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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree July 2018 > There’s something about Mary…

There’s something about Mary…

Researching your female line can be a real challenge, especially as maiden names can be forgotten over time. FT reader Jilly Innes was stuck fast after struggling to identify her ancestor Mary Fuller’s birth name. Fellow reader Charlotte Soares took up the cause after her problem was published in our Q&A pages, and shares her tips for tracking down the elusive maiden names of women in your family trees

Remember the schooldays’ logic: all cats have four legs, this animal has four legs therefore it must be a cat. But no, it’s a dog or an elephant! The same sort of jumping to conclusions often happens in genealogy when it comes to linking families, but it is fraught with dangers. Whole wrong lines get added to trees on genealogy sites because they weren’t checked rigorously. It takes time to verify and it’s much quicker to just merge someone else’s research, but who wants the wrong family attached?

In my own family my grandmother’s maiden name was Colson. She had a brother and therefore my mother had an Uncle Colson and Colson cousins. There were books on our shelves that had belonged to Granny with her maiden name inside them. Because my mother talked about Grandpa and Granny Colson, we knew this was a family name, but my children and their children wouldn’t realise the connection. Those books could easily be thrown out, not knowing they were a link to a family that belonged to us. This name leads to all sorts of genealogy: wills mentioning grandchildren, nieces and nephews, census entries, and all the other data needed to form the family tree and the chance to find living relatives.

Case study

So starting with the known facts above, how can we find Mary Fuller’s mystery maiden name?

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About Family Tree

Join us as we celebrate the mothers, grandmothers, aunts and more on your family tree. It's vital to research the female ancestors, otherwise you're only learning half of your family history. This issue we have plenty to help and inspire your research into women's history and so gain a fuller understanding of your family members and their lives in times gone by.