The Quaker Corner

Use Caution Re: Saying ""A & B were m."AT" the XYZ MM""

-----Original Message-----

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 1:32 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: [Q-R] Caution Re: Saying ""A & B were m."AT" the XYZ MM""


For years, I have noticed that many Quaker researchers state that A & B were married "at" this or that MM and have been a bit bothered by that phrasing. That was usually not the case. True, the marriages were reported to the MM but, very often, actually took place at a local meeting house or, at the home of the bride's parents.

For example, in Hinshaw's Vol. III, under the Westbury MM Whitsons, you will find (p. 466) "Thomas s Thomas & Martha; m 3 Mo (May) 9, 1716 Deborah Feake --" As a consequence, a number of researchers have stated that this marriage took place "at" the Westbury MM. Well, I've seen a copy of the original Westbury MM minutes and they state "the Matinecock meeting reports --(the Whitson/Feake marriage) "

Rather than saying a marriage took place "at" the XYZ MM, let us consider saying that the XYZ MM recorded that the marriage had taken place. (And, let us not forget that the date on which the MM recorded the marriage was usually later than the actual date of the event.)

Cheers, Jim (James L. Kuethe)

-----Original Message-----

From: Stewart Baldwin [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 8:49 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: [Q-R] Caution Re: Saying ""A & B were m."AT" the XYZ MM""

To the above comments, I would add that this applies also to births and deaths. In fact, while it may often be the case that a marriage took place at the Monthly Meeting House, this would happen for a birth or death only under very unusual circumstances, so that it would almost always be incorrect to state that an individual was born "at" a Monthly Meeting. In many cases, the place of birth is not given in births recorded in Monthly Meeting records, in which case one should be careful to state that the birth was recorded at the Monthly Meeting, not that it took place there. In fact, births recorded many years after the fact often appear in the MM records, far distant from where the person was actually born. (Most experienced researchers in Quaker genealogy will be able to give examples of individuals whose birth was recorded at more than one Monthly Meeting, and not alwayswith the same date.) Also, even if the residence of the parents is given in the record, it does not automatically follow that the birthtook place there, and stating that it did is jumping to conclusions on too little evidence.

Actually, this problem is not just a feature of Quaker genealogy, but of genealogy in general. It is disconcerting how often one sees an alleged place of birth or death in which the person supplying the information is unable to supply one tiny shred of evidence that the event took place at that location. Too many people are willing to simply guess a place of birth based on the fact that some member of the family lived there at one time. Part of the problem is that many genealogy programs are inflexible, and make it difficult to enter correct information in the "place" field in cases that are less than certain.

Regarding the dates of Quaker marriages, marriage dates recorded in books of marriage certificates will generally be the correct date of marriage (allowing for the occasional human error). Marriages recorded in the minutes of the Monthly Meeting will very rarely givethe exact date of marriage, but will often narrow it down as occurring between two dates (the date of second intention and the date the marriage is reported). However, you will often find careless genealogists giving one of these dates as the date of marriage. I use something like "married between (date of second int.) and (date marriage reported in minutes)" on such occasions. Often, only the date of second intention is given, without any report in the minutes that the marriage took place. I generally use something like "married soon after (date of 2nd int.)" in this case. Marriages out of unity or contrary to discipline will generally be reported after the fact (usually soon after, but sometimes after significant time had elapsed, especially in cases where the individual lived at a distance from the meeting place).

Stewart Baldwin

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