Sunday, October 8, 2006

Pursuing One-Name Studies

Have you pursued a One-Name Study of your own surname or a surname in your ancestry?

I have pursued several studies for the descendants of a certain person, but not for a general "all-surname" study. For example, my own one-name studies are on my web page at, including:

1) Descendants of Robert Seaver (1608-1683, immigrated to Roxbury MA in 1634) - they are in four files - Descendants of Shubael Seaver, Caleb Seaver, Joshua Seaver and Nathaniel Seaver, respectively. They contain info into the ninth generation from the immigrant, Robert Seaver.

2) Descendants of Martin Carringer (1758-1835, settled in Mercer County PA in 1796)

3) Descendants of Peter Dill (????-1692, settled in Chelmsford MA) - this is primarily a Cape Cod family.

4) Descendants of Andreas Able (????-1751, settled in Hunterdon County NJ)

5) Descendants of Jeremiah McKnew (1640-1700, settled in Price Georges County MD)

I have pursued several more - Richman in Wiltshire, Vaux in America, etc., but ran out of space on my free web site.

In the case of my Seaver surname, the published records (an NEHGR journal article in 1872 and a self-published book in 1924) do not cover the late 19th or early 20th century families, unless someone provided them to the 1924 book author.

Using vital records, military records, probate records, land records, census records and other data has allowed me to define these families well into the 20th century in some cases. I am by no means done with defining most of these families, but putting the research I have on the web helps others in their search, and ultimately helps me expand my database when others contact me.

Fortunately, Google and some other search engines pick up the names in these reports. I often Google a specific couple - say "Norman Seaver" and "Sarah Read" - to see if someone else has posted information about them.

Each week, I receive one or two queries from other researchers requesting information about people in my published web pages. I usually respond with a genealogy report (generated by Family Tree Maker) for their specific ancestor, but I usually do not include my notes. I ask my correspondents to double check the accuracy of my data with their data, and I also ask for information about their family line if I don't have names, dates, places or spousal names for their line.

In England, the Guild of One-Name Studies provides a collection agency for about 7,000 studies, concentrating on English families.

In America, there are a number of family associations for specific surnames, and some magazines have lists of them. Many "Descendants of ..." books have been written by individuals and family associations. Some family associations have active web sites - for instance, the Kemp Family Association.

Using online mailing lists and message boards, you can find information about specific surnames and search them to see if someone else has posted about your specific families. For instance, the Seaver surname message board at Rootsweb/Ancestry is at has 324 messages and the message board at Genforum is at has 354 messages. You can click on those links and then substitute your surname for the last portion of the URL. When you are on a message board, you can search for specific names and/or locations using the Search box provided.

Rootsweb has mailing list archives for all of the surname mailing lists at and has a search engine for the lists at Just put your surname in the Search box to find the right list.

The challenge of one-name studies is to capture all of the information you can and evaluate the data thoroughly to define family units and relationships. This can often be done with secondary information and derivative sources, but in the end each relationship needs to be proven by primary information in original sources, if they exist.

Have you done a one-name study? If so, have you put it on the web for others to find?

No comments: