GeneaBloggers

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Bullying and Elitism



There have been a few recent articles and posts about bullying and elitism in genealogy that are worth reading. Do these issues exist in genealogy? Yes, of course they do! There are more than enough people participating in this field that such a claim can be made on probabilistic grounds alone. We are human, and human interaction often suffers as a result of personal goals or dislikes.


While neither of these issues can be justified, it's worth considering the mindset behind them. What would cause one genealogist to personally berate another, as opposed to criticising their data or methods, and why would some genealogists look down on others? Occasionally, the issue is less blatant, and may take the form of the cold shoulder. I'm personally aware of people who deliberately ignore others because of what they say, or how they say it, rather than indulging in discussion on their viewpoint. 

A large part of the explanation can be linked back to the schism in genealogy: the one that we all know about but don’t like to talk of. There are researchers who want to be very rigorous, produce journal-quality write-ups, and would like their work to be appreciated by their peers. There are other researchers who indulge out of personal interest, and who mainly wish to share data with their family. While the reality may be slightly more of a greyscale, let’s call these extremes the academic and the hobbyist. Note that these must be viewed as different goals rather than different levels of expertise.

I’m including professionals in my academic category because of their approach to quality and rigour. I know that some people fear those with BCG certification, and hence letters after their name, even when they don’t mean to be imposing or overbearing. Consider, though, that such people have worked to achieve that certification — just as anyone studying for a qualification will have worked — and they should be admired for it. It indicates a commitment to acquiring personal skills and knowledge — not divinity. Many of us would like to think that we could attain that certification, if we had the time and the money, but would it be relevant to the hobbyist sharing with their family? Even the hobbyist is in a position to recognise the advantages of consistency and quality in genealogical research, and there are many books to help teach themselves if they don’t feel that a qualification is appropriate, such as those of Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas W. Jones.

One of the most common points of criticism between these genealogical factions is sources. Public family trees most often have no source citations, and the academics allegedly don’t like that because it means the associated conclusions are unsubstantiated and of little use to them. Well, it runs much deeper than this. The perception that public trees are inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and of poor quality, means that this side of genealogy is frowned upon by academics generally, not just genealogical ones. It will probably never be accepted as a form of historical research while this can be demonstrated, but do source citations help?

As I’ve said in a previous post, source citations are better than nothing at all, but they don’t guarantee accuracy. Providing a direct link to a census page or BMD record does not make the data correct, and it may even be insufficient without some narrative explanation in complex cases. In effect, we should not confuse good-intent with accuracy. Providing citations in a public tree shows good intent, and it will certainly help the associated author if-and-when they find a problem in their own data. Education is therefore a crucial factor for newbies who are just starting out.

Unfortunately, public trees are plagued by certain other issues. Because of the nature of the tools that are made available, it is too tempting to copy-and-paste data from other trees into your own. This is bad because there is an assumption that the other tree is accurate, it provides no attribution to the original author (if that they were), and there is no association allowing the source of conclusions to be followed. The overall result is that inaccuracies propagate like mad until you find multiple trees that all show the same error, and there’s then no indication of where it all started. I know through experience that attempting to tell another researcher that their data is incorrect because so-and-so is bound to elicit a variety of responses. Maybe they do see the logic and thank you for it. Maybe they get angry because it’s their family, or because everyone else agrees with (read as “copied”) the data. Quite often, though, you get no response at all, and this maybe because the author has become a leaf on their own tree, or because they’ve abandoned that tree after toying with it for a short while. We all know the end result of this, and it’s hardly surprising that genealogists get very frustrated with the current state of things. I admit to being one of the frustrated, and I have voiced strong opinions about the state of public trees, but it would be pointless and plain wrong to criticise specific individuals. I understand that the reasons are neither simple nor imbued with malicious intent.

There are other serious frustrations in genealogy at the moment, in addition to those of accuracy and sources citations. Some people are just fed-up with people stealing their data. This is an emotive word but it’s used regularly in this context. There are legal aspects to this issue, too, such as mere “facts” (i.e. discrete data) not being subject to any type of copyright or ownership. If you put names, dates, places, and so on, into your public tree then there’s nothing illegal about someone copying them, and bloggers like James Tanner regularly write about this. Where there is a strong case for some sort of authorial protection is when the tree is replaced with a more academic or creative work, such as when it contains complex proof arguments or narrative content. It’s rare to find this sort of content in public genealogical data, partly because there’s no structure to accommodate it, and partly because there’s no authorial protection. By that, I mean no mechanism by which attribution is automatic and where the data is linked rather than duplicated.

I used to have an online public tree that I published as “cousin bait”, but it was recently taken down because it was no longer attracting any contacts. I believe this is because people are now more concerned with data that has source citations, and so are confusing that aspect with some guarantee of accuracy. Anyone who reads my blog will know that I also post articles that summarise particular lines of genealogical research, or even micro-history, including my reasoning and my findings. I try to do this in a way that is easy and enjoyable to read, rather than as professional-style research reports, because I also want my extended family to enjoy them. This probably works better than a bare online tree as I can include much more detail and structure, including proper reference-note citations (not just electronic bookmarks). It also means that I can publish information that was not available in public records, with implicit attribution to me on the date of publication, and present justified conclusions that may differ from those of others.

These two approaches (tree vs. blog) are poles apart, though, but it doesn’t have to be like that. It is conceivable that a structured narrative contribution could be uploaded to a public site, and automatically associated with the relevant leaves on a public tree by virtue of mark-up that identifies the individuals and their relationships. From an end-user’s perspective, the appearance would be that of a public tree that links to many private narrative contributions, and which would therefore support authorial ownership and automatic attribution. The tree itself could be dynamically formed from the uploaded contributions (explained a little better in What to Share, and How — Part II), and so could accommodate differences of opinion without getting into edit wars. Of course, an essential ingredient would be some sort of personal preferences about whose contributions to include or hide in your private view, and maybe the ubiquitous ‘Like’ button, but a fundamental advantage is that all private contributions would be there and there would be no need to duplicate any of them.

In this article, I have mentioned education as being a factor in reducing the genealogical schism, and so reducing the temptation to bully or become snobs, but it cannot all be blamed on the hobbyist’s education. I have also mentioned other frustrations that affect both hobbyist and academic alike, and the main cause of those is probably the scope of the software models used for collaboration. The answer is not in single-truth unified trees, and it’s not in user-owned trees either. The software industry really needs to take a different tack on collaboration and save genealogy from implosion. I am not using that word simply to be sensationalist; I genuinely believe that a core part of genealogy is a demonstrable disaster. I would like to suggest that FHISO be involved in discussions of collaborative models as the inability to share data accurately and fully is another one of those serious frustrations, and also  because they are fast becoming aware that we need considerably more than the mere sharing of conclusions; whether source citations are present or not. Letting things slide further by doing nothing at all is compounding the damage already done.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Source Mining



It’s time to look at how we work with our sources, and the impact that this has on citations. I expect many people to say that we all work differently, but do we? If we fall into a small number of distinct cases then a computer representation of our research, as opposed to merely our conclusions, is an achievable goal.


Whether we like it or not, and irrespective of how we conduct our research, there are different scopes within genealogy. Some researchers are content with establishing their lineage or pedigree; some would like to look at the history of their family; some have a much more general interest in history, including the backdrop to their family’s lives, and the micro-history of places, groups, and other subjects.

It’s difficult to break these into hard categories as it is really a greyscale dependent upon our personal goals and interests. However, it is much easier to categorise the fruits of our research. The consensus seems to be that this is either conclusions or evidence-and-conclusions, with citation of sources being the differentiating factor, but this is certainly an oversimplification, and maybe even a misuse of those same terms.

Family Trees

Let’s start by analysing the most simplistic of scope: that of a plain family tree or pedigree. This would consist of an assemblage of so-called “facts”: the names, dates, and places corresponding to the family’s vital events, and their lineage-based relationships. Without any sources then these “facts” are merely unsubstantiated claims, but what would source citations add to them? As I recently commented on one of James Tanner’s posts (Why not a ranking and review system for online family tree databases), it doesn’t necessarily make the data any more accurate. I have seen many online trees that cite census entries, or vital events, and yet are entirely wrong; often with clearly impossible implications. Conversely, the absence of source citations may mean that the tree was posted as "cousin bait" rather than being a complete genealogy. At best, we might deduce that the inclusion of citations means (a) that the data wasn’t simply copied from another tree, and (b) that some effort was made to include that source information. However, the ease with which online trees can add electronic citations — more accurately described as electronic bookmarks (see Citations for Online Trees) — weakens that latter deduction. Also, those electronic citations are usually constrained to online data hosted by the same provider, and so would not be a general mechanism.

A deeper issue is that these family-tree citations — whether electronic or in traditional reference-note form — only work because the underlying data is a mere assemblage of “facts”. A simple list of sources might constitute a proof summary, but that assumes that the evidence from those sources is direct and non-conflicting for each claim. Dealing with the more complex cases is often referred to as Inferential Genealogy, but the representation of these cases, such as my establishing the parentage of Sarah Hunt in the latter part of My Ancestor Changed Their Surname, cannot suffice with a plain citation, or even with a group of plain citations. If there isn’t a direct relationship between a “fact” and its source then you need a proof argument, and that may require a little more than just narrative. Although you would write such a proof argument using narrative, it may need to make correlated references to multiple subjects, such as people, and to multiple sources of information. If the online tree allowed you to upload this narrative as plain text then it would have to be associated with a specific person, or family, and the essential structure and relevance to other subjects would be lost as a result.

On the surface of it, this appears to be saying that it’s not enough to say where your information came from, and that you must also indicate how it relates to your claims. The issue is more subtle, though, for any computer representation — including online trees — since the structure and position of that proof argument is crucially important. Returning to the case of Sarah Hunt’s parentage, an associated proof argument would be as relevant to both of her parents as to herself, and it may include non-familial persons in the general case, so where do you attach it? Also, simply identifying a Frances Hunt as her mother because such-and-such wouldn’t be enough if there were multiple people with that name in the same tree.

Ideally, we need something in between our conclusions and the underlying sources; something that not only provides a link but a structured pathway explaining how and why. This is even an issue for trees that want to cite sources that do not quite agree on someone’s date of birth. Obviously a person should not have multiple birth events recorded, but it must be possible to trace any selected date, or date-range, back to some correlation of those source differences. As explained in Hierarchical Sources, when fellow researchers examine your data, it is the combination of your proof argument and its sources that they should be interested in, rather than just your subjective conclusions. They would want the option to form different or modified conclusions, and so that full story is a fundamental issue for any type of data sharing.

Historical Research

Moving away from the simplistic scope of a family tree, and along that greyscale to the more historical pursuits, reveals something quite profound: a change of emphasis and a different approach. Since such researchers are no longer looking for discrete “facts” to add to their existing tree then they’re much more interested in anything and everything from a given source. This change of emphasis results in the source being the main focus — not the tree — and so the citation of that source is formed much earlier, and is rarely an afterthought. Having selected a relevant source, such as a diary, will, military record, letters, or an old book, then there’s typically an assimilation process of deconstruction and interpretation — which is what I refer to by the title of this article: source mining.

If I were to describe this source-mining process as locating the subject references[1] in the source, identifying their documented properties (e.g. person’s age, person’s occupation, place type), identifying their documented relationships (including person-to-person, person-to-place, place-to-place, etc), and then incorporating that information into your main historical data — a process that would require correlation with other analysed sources, and resolution of conflicts or other differences — then how many people would identify with that approach? Or, putting it another way, how many people’s approach would be substantially different?

My contention is that this general approach is more common during historical research. The converse is where you are asking a specific question, or making a specific claim, and might be described as a goal-directed approach. In the aforementioned case of family trees then such goals would include finding data for a vital event, identifying a marriage partner, or finding offspring of a couple; the tree effectively sets those goals. Rather than suggesting that a goal-directed approach doesn’t exist, I’m suggesting that it depends on the scope of the research, and that it becomes less common as the research scope broadens. I believe historical researchers may still have specific interests, such as a particular person, family, village, or event, but would be more reliant on the serendipity of each source than answering specific questions.

If this contention is true then it has implications for the digital representation of our research, and for the support of any standard of research. With no animus intended, let me select GEDCOM-X as an example. This data model made an admirable attempt at supporting a research process, but this was primarily a goal-directed process. The page at GEDCOM X and the Genealogical Research Process describes the first phase as: “Question Asking: The research process begins with a focused research question”. Irrespective of whether the model can find a way of representing the source-mining approach, its initial design was based on a more restricted concept of research.

Am I suggesting that the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is not applicable to source mining? Well, that is a really good question. It is true that discussions of the GPS nearly always present it in the context of goal-directed research, such as establishing the truth or falsity of some claim, but its core principles would still apply to the incorporation of the mined data into your other data. Assessment of information based on the nature and provenance of its source, resolution of conflicts, etc., would be just as relevant.

STEMMA

I am currently working towards a representation of mined data that I will hope will provide a crucially missing piece in the STEMMA data model. Back in STEMMA V3.0, I introduced the concept of a References element in which the details of the subject references were assembled into prototype subject entities describing persons, places, groups, etc., and their relationships to each other, using the information from a given source. Since this was dealing with the documented properties and relationships, and it allowed me to analyse them and to correlate them with other sources, then it was a good starting point for source mining — except that it was in entirely the wrong place! It was part of the Event entity, but that embraced conclusions and so was too high on the structured pathway mentioned above. Source mining is largely a bottom-up approach, and the References element was designed to facilitate the digestion and extraction of source information in a manner from which inferences and conclusions could be built. For instance a documented name may not have been someone’s registered name, a documented age may have been estimated, a relationship of “cousin” could have meant a lot of different things, and to say that one place was “within” another wouldn’t necessary identify either of them — some analysis and correlation is required. From this perspective, those prototype entities were fairly similar to Personae, except that I had generalised the concept to include other subject types, and I had endeavoured to keep their shared context. A strong criticism I have of the accepted persona concept is that it extracts names, and other details, from different sources and treats them all equally, and in isolation from their original context, including the background context of the source information, the nature of the source itself, and the documented relationships between subjects (not just persons) in the same source.

This work is still in its early stages, but it will involve moving those Reference elements into some new entity that bridges between my sources and my conclusions. Part of the problem is that information must be associated with its relevant context, which generally equates to a where, when, and by-whom (or as much of it as can be deduced), but any single source may have multiple contexts. An obvious case would be a diary, but other cases may involve information making reference to prior events. You then have the context of the body information and the context of the reported or recollected events within that body.

The following schematic diagram illustrates the current direction of this work; noting that it’s still subject to revision. The source material would describe local material (where you may have an original or an image copy) or remote material (such as a cited work or document), or both when they’re related. The new entity would identify the different contexts within the source and assemble prototype subject entities, together with their documented properties and relationships. I say documented because these would not be conclusions at this point. Hence, if the relationship between a particular person reference and a place reference was that of “present at” then I wouldn’t assume that it was their residence. Those subject references would be connected to appropriate points in any transcriptions of the material, thus providing a connection all the way from a conclusion entity (or associated datum), through the correlation between different sources, through the analysis of the different contexts within a given source, and finally to an actual textual reference.



A source sentence that I’d used as a simplistic example on a FHISO mailing list at Entity Relationships went as follows:

"In 1963, John Smith, of 10 Front St, brother of Simon Smith of Woodstown, married Ann Jones".

The obvious context is the year 1963. It has three person references (John Smith, Simon Smith, and Ann Jones) and two place references (10 Front St and Woodstown); none of which have been specifically identified at this stage. There are relationships indicated between the person references (brother-of, and married) but also relationships between the persons and places (expressed here as “of”).

What this representation does not deal with is the concept of multi-tier personae, and the equivalent for non-person subject types. They would be relevant to the ‘correlation’ item in the diagram but I’m unconvinced that a formal entity representation is any better than a narrative explanation. 

Conclusion

I’m suggesting that research is primarily sourced-based, working upwards from the information we find in each source, and that the converse case, where we have a specific question, is less frequent; except for family trees where the acquisition of details for vital events constitutes such questions. Consequences of this are that the source details (including its assessment as well as its citation) are a secondary consideration, and also that other information from the same source may be ignored. The sharing of research information, as opposed to just conclusions, must take account of this bottom-up approach, but there are currently no comprehensive mechanisms for this level of sharing. GEDCOM only shares conclusions, and those attempts that have been made to share research have become mired in the goal-directed notion. Whilst there may be a lot of variety in how readers approach their own source-based research, the digital representation would try to encapsulate the core elements in a manner that could be built upon to support correlation with other sources and the generation of conclusions.



[1] This is STEMMA terminology for references to subjects in a source, i.e. person references, place references, group references, etc. The distinction between subject references and subject entities (in the digital representation) was proposed as a clean break from the more contentious evidence person and conclusion person on the FHISO mailing list at: The Preferred Vocabulary. This suggestion sank without a trace as it was attached to some unrelated post, but it also needs rethinking as there are three distinct representations rather than just two.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Dove and Rainbow



The Dove and Rainbow was a public house (PH) that’s now long-gone from the centre of Nottingham, England. Imagine my surprise when I found that my ancestor once owned it, and that its location was just beside the bus-stop I used to use. This post is as much about that pub as it is about my ancestor.

George Proctor was born in Nottingham in 1847 to James Procter [sic: the surname spelling changed during George’s generation] and Melicent Kirk (later “Millicent”).[1] In the 1851 census, he was living with his parents at 2 Cambridge Street, Nottingham.[2] In the 1861 census, he was living with his parents at 133 Peas Hill Road, and was a “Confectioner’s Assistant”.[3] In the 1871 census, though, he’d moved to 2 Manchester Street, Liverpool, and was a confectioner lodging with the family of a George Elston, another confectioner from Hull, in Yorkshire.[4] Manchester Street used to link Dale Street and Victoria Street, although it barely exists today due to inner-city redevelopment.

It’s unknown why George moved to Liverpool, but his younger brother, Thomas, also moved to Lancashire some years later. Thomas was a confectioner, too, and after marrying Louisa Freeman in 1870, in Nottingham, they moved to 2 Spring Terrace, Crumpsall, Manchester, sometime before 1881. Although these addresses are both in Lancashire, they are a good 35 miles apart. Whereas Thomas married in Nottingham, and then moved to Manchester — where he and his wife both remained — George had returned to Nottingham during 1871–72, and then married Mary Jane Bradley (b. 1845 in Newark) on 20 Jun 1872 at Nottingham St. Mary.[5]

It wasn’t until I found an 1876 reference to George Proctor being associated with the Dove & Rainbow in a city directory[6] that I even suspected he’d changed his occupation from confectionery, but was he the pub owner or merely a resident landlord?

The only surviving image of the pub (and a partial one at that) that I was able to find was on the Picture the Past Web site which hosts a photographic history of the East Midlands. You can just make out part of the pub to the left of the picture.

Dove & Rainbow PH, 18 Upper Parliament St, Nottingham, c1890s.
Figure 1 - Dove & Rainbow PH, 18 Upper Parliament St, Nottingham, c1890s.[7]

In order to put that location in a modern-day context, the figure below is a “live” Google Street View from 2012 of the same frontage. There’s no mistaking the windows either side of the stepped roof. That small bit of history is now sandwiched between two modern red-brick buildings, but it’s nice to know that some part of the original was retained.


Figure 2 - Equivalent frontage from 2012.


That section of Upper Parliament Street is currently full of different bus-stops. Interestingly, though, back in the 19th Century the pub was a regularly pick-up point for carriers (i.e. horse-drawn wagons or carts) to villages north of Nottingham, including Arnold, Blidworth, Calverton, Hucknall, and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

The Dove & Rainbow was finally closed on 1 Jan 1910[8], but its original opening is harder to determine. The earliest newspaper reference I could find was from 1849, and recorded that “Samuel Shaw, of the Dove & Rainbow, Parliament Street, was convicted, on his own confession, in the mitigated penalty of 20s., for having his house open during hours on a Sunday, forbidden by statute”.[9] However, it was mentioned as early as 1815 in a city directory[10], and was probably much older than that. During 1950, the local Nottingham Evening Post mentioned the pub in a number of exchanges with the public in a regular historical series entitled “On The Square”.[11] Each piece was quite brief but the paper received letters from people who actually remembered the pub; first-hand primary information. There was some debate about its true location as two editions of a “History of Nottingham” (1853 and 1861; author not given) located it at 121 Upper Parliament Street, rather than no. 18, but it was finally agreed that this was an error.

Prior to George Proctor moving in, the pub was run by a James and Lucy Franks. James died 17 Apr 1875, aged 71, after contracting Erysipela — an infection of the skin and lymphatic system.[12] They had already lost their eldest son, William, aged 42, on 23 Sep 1871[13], and the pub went to auction. On 28 Sep 1875, George bought the Dove & Rainbow at the Exchange and Mart; one of several properties under the will of Robert Knight, gentleman deceased. It was described as occupying 178 sq. yds., and having tenants “in the yard” (identified later as Dove Yard) let at £65 15s per annum net. George bought all this for £2,650, which was a considerable sum.[14]  At the time of writing, that would be the equivalent of paying about £167,000, or US$ 255,000.[15]

Upper Parliament Street had almost 20 of these small yards, and several of them took the name of a nearby inn and were private property with no shops. In order to understand where Dove Yard was, we need to look at an historical map of that location: Dove & Rainbow PH and New Yard (1875 layer).[16] Running horizontally is Upper Parliament Street, and New Yard (now Trinity Walk) meets this on its north side. In between there and the junction with Milton Street, to the right, can be seen three small alleyways (or “twitchels”) that gave access to enclosed housing. The first is to the left of the Dove & Rainbow PH, with a further two above the “B.M:142.3” label. These can be identified from a city directory as, respectively, Dove Yard, Stone Court, and Stanley’s Passage.[17]

So where did George get that amount of money? How much was his and how much was borrowed? What did he do between his marriage, in June 1872, and buying the Dove & Rainbow in September 1875? Some answers were eventually found in the county Yorkshire, north of Nottinghamshire.

On the 5 May 1870, Jacob Newbould, the Innkeeper of the Royal Oak Inn, Kirkgate, Bradford, was adjudicated a bankrupt. In March 1872, the County Court, Bradford, declared a final dividend of 1p in the pound to be paid to creditors by Henry Ibbotson, Trustee.[18] This Royal Oak should not be confused with the Royal Oak Inn, also with an address of Kirkgate but in Leeds, some 15 miles east, and which was coincidentally being advertised at the same time as available for let with immediate possession.[19] George Proctor must have picked the Bradford pub up as a real bargain, but in April 1873 they had been robbed by Emma Humphries, a domestic servant who had been dismissed a few weeks earlier. She was convicted of stealing items from the wife of George Proctor, including a gold locket, a gold guard, a jet guard (actually the property of a barmaid), and some clothing, resulting in a sentence of two months with hard labour.[20]

By March 1874, George had decided to leave this property and it was being advertised for sale, eventually being auctioned through the services of J. Buckley Sharp.[21] By August 1874, he was granted a drinks license at the Beamsley Hotel, Heaton Road, Bradford.[22] In May 1876, a short while after buying the Dove & Rainbow, George was assaulted at the Beamsley Hotel by a John Mitchell. The man was drunk and causing a disturbance, but on being ejected he started to kick George several times, breaking his watch. He was fined 20s with 14s costs, or a month in prison in default.[23] The Beamsley Hotel was eventually transferred to a Samuel Bakes.[24] A reasonable guess would be that George was making money on each property transaction.

I couldn’t find any historical images of these two Bradford properties, but their exact addresses can be found in the city directories as follows:[25]

The Royal Oak [Inn], 69 Kirkgate, Bradford.
The Beamsley Hotel, 116 Heaton Road, Manningham, Bradford.

This was substantiated by the Bradford Local Studies department, which located a “George Procter” in the 1875 Whites directory covering Bradford. He was given in the street section as being at 116 Heaton Road, under Victor Road, as a victualler. He was also listed in the surname section where his address was given as Beamsley Hotel, 116 Heaton Road. They also found him in the Burgess rolls of 1872–1875 where he was listed in the East Ward of Bradford 1872–74 in a property at 69 Kirkgate, but by 1875 there was a James Connell listed at that address.

George died just a few years after taking over the Dove & Rainbow, on 5 Apr 1879. The probate Calendar initially gave administration of his will to his wife, Mary Jane, on 30 Apr 1879, but a second entry, on 23 Jul 1879, gave administration to a shoemaker from Beeston named Alfred Cooke. It did not indicate who Alfred was but the reason was given as Mary Jane failing to handle the administration. Furthermore, the first entry indicated an estate under £300, and the second entry under £100; both of which were unexpectedly low.[26] George’s will was written on 19 Jun 1875, and bequeathed his share in the pony harness and cart belonging to his brother-in-law, Robert Henry Bradley, to the said brother-in-law. However, Robert had already died in c1876, aged just 27.[27] All of George’s real-estate, and the residue and remainder of his personal estate and possessions, were left to his wife.[28]

Mary Jane died the same year, on 21 Jun 1879 — this obviously being the cause of her failure to administer her husband’s will — and administration was given to the same Alfred Cooke, now identified as “cousin German” (i.e. her first cousin).[29] The grant of administration indicated that Mary Jane had no surviving parent, brother/sister, uncle/aunt, or nephew/niece — thus explaining why Alfred was selected as next-of-kin — and also that she died intestate. Her estate was still classified as under £100.[30]

Mary Jane was only 34 years old, and an inquest was held into her death at the Dove & Rainbow itself. Witnesses testified that she had been ill for about 8 weeks — presumably since the death of George — and that she had been drinking heavily. She had been treated both for a fit and for the delirium tremens. She was freely drinking whiskey and brandy, and driven more to it by the pressures of her business affairs. Elizabeth Turner, wife of a John Turner living in Dove Yard (see below), testified that she had known her for about a year and a half, and having helped nurse her husband before his death she had the opportunity to notice her intemperate habits during the last year. After some discussion, the jury returned a verdict of death from excessive drinking.[31] I was slightly surprised that the inquest was held in the same pub, but it seemed that several inquests were held there. Clearly, the pub was a centre of many activities.
           
The pub was auctioned by Messrs. Grundy and Morris in October 1879. The advertised details are interesting because, as well as being a brewhouse,  it included stabling, outbuildings, two cottages to the rear (occupied by a John Woolley and John Turner), excellent cellarage, five bedrooms, and front & back club-rooms; for some years supporting “lucrative business” being carried out on the premises.[32]

A tragic tale, but one that had to be told! It could have all been so different had they not been so wounded by fate.



[1] “England & Wales, Free BMD Index: 1837-1983", database, FreeBMD (http://freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl : accessed 7 Feb 2015), birth entry for George Proctor; citing Nottingham, 1847, Jun [Q2], vol. XV:560.
[2] "1851 England, Wales & Scotland Census", database, FindMyPast (www.findmypast.org.uk : accessed 7 Feb 2015), household of James Procter (age 40); citing HO 107/2132, folio 245, page 40; The National Archives of the UK (TNA).
[3] "1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census", database, FindMyPast (www.findmypast.org.uk : accessed 7 Feb 2015), household of James Procter (age 49); citing RG 9/2460, folio 43, page 27; TNA.
[4] "1871 England, Wales & Scotland Census", database, FindMyPast (www.findmypast.org.uk : accessed 7 Feb 2015), household of George Elston (age 50); citing RG 10/3774, folio 12, page 16; TNA.
[5] "England & Wales, Free BMD Index: 1837-1983", database, FreeBMD (http://freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl : accessed 7 Feb 2015), marriage entry for George Proctor and Mary Jane Bradley; citing Nottingham, 1872, Jun [Q2], vol. 7b:392.
[6] Post Office Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1876, p.797 (printed), online PDF, University of Leicester, compiler, Historical Directories (http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16445coll4/id/112451/rec/17 : accessed 8 Feb 2015), entry for no. 18 on the north side of Upper Parliament Street.
[7] Dove and Rainbow PH and Beever's Cycle Shop, Upper Parliament Street, Nottingham (c1890s). Picture by A. P. Knighton. Displayed by permission of picturethepast.org.uk. Image Ref: DCHQ500555.
[8] "Nottingham Public Houses Closed", Nottingham Evening Post (1 Jan 1910): p.4, col.6.
[9] "Tuesday -- Before the Mayor and T.Marriott Esq.: Convictions of Licensed Victuallers", Nottinghamshire Guardian (15 Feb 1849): p.3, col.6.
[10] Nottingham Directory, 1815, Sutton and Son, p.51 (printed), online PDF, University of Leicester, compiler, Historical Directories (http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16445coll4/id/112446/rec/3 : accessed 8 Feb 2015).
[11] "On The Square", Nottingham Evening Post (19 Dec 1949): p.4. Also (29 Dec 1949): p.4, (3 Jan 1950): p.4, (5 Jan 1950): p.4, (6 Jan 1950): p.4, (13 Jan 1950): p.4, (18 Jan 1950): p.4,
[12] "Births, Marriages and Deaths", Nottinghamshire Guardian (23 Apr 1875): p.8.
[13] "Births, Marriages and Deaths", Nottinghamshire Guardian (29 Sep 1871): p.8.
[14] "Property Sale", Nottinghamshire Guardian (1 Oct 1875): p.5 ,col.3.
[15] Conversion performed using http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/ukcompare/relativevalue.php, and selecting the “real price” of a “commodity” to guide it.
[16] "Nottinghamshire Insight Mapping", Nottingham City Council, GIS tool (http://info.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/insightmapping/?l=0.21&xmin=457189&xmax=457380&ymin=340054&ymax=340156 : accessed 8 Feb 2015); Ordnance Survey Licence number 100019317. Initial click required to accept T&Cs. Select 'Historicalfrom the toolbar where it normally says 'Road Map'. Select the 1875 layer.
[17] History, Gazetteer & Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1885, p.348 (printed), online PDF, University of Leicester, compiler, Historical Directories (http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16445coll4/id/278609/rec/20 : accessed 8 Feb 2015), entries on the north side of Upper Parliament Street, following from the Milton Street junction.
[18] London Gazette (8 Mar 1872): p.1396 (printed).
[19] "Hotels, Public Houses, &c", Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer (15 Mar 1873): p.3, col.5
[20] "Robbery from a Public House", Bradford Observer (16 Apr 1873): p.3, col.1. "A Dishonest Domestic", Leeds Times (19 Apr 1873): p.3, col.5.
[21] “Valuable Freehold Property in Kirkgate”, Bradford Observer (9 Mar 1874): p.1, col.4. Also (26 Mar): p.2, col.3, and (30 Mar): p.1, col.3.
[22] “Bradford Brewster Sessions”, Bradford Observer (27 Aug 1874): p.8, col.1.
[23] “Dunk and Wild in a Public House”, Leeds Times (13 May 1876): p.3, col.6.
[24] “The Conservatives and Their Friends”, Leeds Times (23 Feb 1878): p.3, col.6.
[25] Post Office Bradford Directory, 1879-80, online PDF, University of Leicester, compiler, Historical Directories (http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16445coll4/id/64209/rec/30 : accessed 9 Feb 2015), entries for Royal Oak (p.425, printed) occupied by James Connell, and Beamsley Hotel (p.422, printed), occupied by Frederick Farnell.
[26] "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966", digital images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 9 Feb 2015); citing "George Proctor", died 1879, Nottinghamshire; Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.
[27] “England & Wales, Free BMD Index: 1837-1983", database, FreeBMD (http://freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl : accessed 9 Feb 2015), death entry for Robert Henry Bradley; citing Nottingham, 1876, Mar [Q1], vol. 7b:201.
[28] "Find a will" (beta), gov.uk (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#Wills : purchased 1 Jan 2015, PDF downloaded 19 Jan 2015).
[29] "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966", digital images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 9 Feb 2015); citing "Mary Jane Proctor", died 1879, Nottinghamshire.
[30] "Find a will" (beta), gov.uk (https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#Wills : purchased 1 Jan 2015, PDF downloaded 19 Jan 2015).
[31] “Death From Excessive Drinking in Nottingham”, Nottinghamshire Guardian (27 Jun 1879): p.5, col.4.
[32] "Sale by Auction: Messrs. Grundy and Morris", Nottinghamshire Guardian (10 Oct 1879): p.1, col.4. Also (17 Oct 1879): p.1, col.4.