Saturday, April 25, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- What Is Your Birth Surname Henry Number?

It's Saturday Night - 

time for more Genealogy Fun! 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible music here) is to:

1)  Do you know what a "Henry Number" is?  It is a descendant numbering system from a specific person.  The Wikipedia article for Genealogical Numbering Systems describes it as:

"The Henry System is a descending system created by Reginald Buchanan Henry for a genealogy of the families of the presidents of the United States that he wrote in 1935.[3] It can be organized either by generation or not. The system begins with 1. The oldest child becomes 11, the next child is 12, and so on. The oldest child of 11 is 111, the next 112, and so on. The system allows one to derive an ancestor's relationship based on their number. For example, 621 is the first child of 62, who is the second child of 6, who is the sixth child of his parents.  In the Henry System, when there are more than nine children, X is used for the 10th child, A is used for the 11th child, B is used for the 12th child, and so on. In the Modified Henry System, when there are more than nine children, numbers greater than nine are placed in parentheses."

2)  Go to your first known ancestor with your birth surname in your software program and calculate your Henry Number from that person.  Show each generation of your line of ancestors with your birth surname with their Henry numbers.

3)  How did you calculate the Henry numbers?  What do these numbers tell you?

4)  Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a Facebook post.

Here's mine:

2)  My first known ancestor with my birth surname of Seaver is Robert Seaver (1608-1683).  Here is my Seaver line with their Henry numbers.

1                       Robert Seaver (1608-1683)
11                     Shubael Seaver (1640-1730)*
112                   Joseph Seaver (1672-1754)*
1121                 Robert Seaver (1702-1752)*
11214                Norman Seaver (1734-1787)*
112142              Benjamin Seaver (1757-1816)*
1121424            Benjamin Seaver (1791-1825)*
11214243          Isaac Seaver (1823-1901)*
112142431        Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922)*
1121424311      Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942)*
11214243115    Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983)*
112142431151  Randall Jeffrey Seaver (1943-living)*

*  Denotes a son who was the eldest son that married and had children.

3)  I created a Descendants Narrative Report (1,811 pages!) in RootsMagic 7 using Robert Seaver as the starting ancestor, requested 12 generations, picked the Henry Number option, and then the program traced all of Robert Seaver's descendants through the report.  I was on page 63.  

Amazingly, each one of these males were the eldest son that survived and had children.  For instance, Joseph Seaver (1672-1754) had an older brother, Robert Seaver (1670-1672) who did not survive childhood, so Joseph was the eldest surviving son with children.  Norman Seaver (1734-1787) had two older brothers who did not marry or survive childhood, so Norman was the eldest surviving son who had children.  My father had an older brother who died before my father was born, and three sisters, so he was the 5th child, but the first son that had children.  What this means is that if Robert Seaver (1608-1683) had been a King, then I would be the current King, assuming succession through only the eldest male with children (not the current system in most royal lines).

In order to have an accurate Henry Number report, a researcher needs to have a complete list of children in each ancestral family, and know their birth order.  I think I have done that in my own Seaver line.  

There are five persons in my Seaver line that were the first-born child, and two more that were the second-born child.

4)  I did!


Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

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Francesco's Amityville said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for it.

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

I'm not sure I like this method of keeping track. Glad RootsMagic could do it for me.

Liz said...

I agree with those before me. It was very interesting, but I'm not sure I like the method.

Thanks for showing me something new, Randy!

Here's mine:

Lois Willis said...

Here's mine:

Lacie Madison said...

I would be totally lost if I did this manually. My post.

Janice M. Sellers said...

I didn't have a problem doing this manually. I can see some utility to the method.

Linda Stufflebean said...

Interesting activity. My surname line isn't very long, but I wouldn't want to do this by hand and I have to wonder how many errors are in those old books where the author used the Henry system.

Chad said...

I got started back in the dinosaur era when paper genealogical forms were still the norm. Back then, a blank ancestral chart form might list four generations, starting with yourself and going back to your great-grandparents. There would then be sixteen blanks to record the form numbers of lines continuing further back (two for the parents of each of the great-grandparents).

At that time, I was a computer-science major in college and so I decided to use hexadecimal chart numbering. The original chart, the one showing myself in the first generation space, I decided to call the NULL chart (I used an empty-set symbol)
So the continuation charts for my fifth-generation ancestors used the numbers 0 through F, with my father's paterna ancestral line as Chart #0 and the chart for my mother's direct maternal line as chart #F.

So after each four generations going backwards, a new ancestral chart was needed. Tracing my direct surname line, my 2nd great-grandfather was person #1 on Chart #0. (Remember, I was person #1 on the NULL chart.) So my sixth great grandfather on my paternal line was person #1 on Chart #00.

So this system permitted me to give a unique number to each of my ancestors, with the number being meaningful. Opening my paper records to a random spot, I descend from John, Lord of Hastings (d. 26 June 1170) and he is person #4 on Chart #5615B3C. So he is ancestor 4-5615B3C.

This of course assumes that I was accurate in my research -- and back when I started "research" was just mostly copying assertions made by others. I don't know for sure if I descend from John, Lord of Hastings, and I probably never will know for sure, since I have a lot more important research to do on ancestors that are closer in time to me.

Once computers came around, I abandoned my system. It did not accomodate descent from an ancestor in more than one way. But I still kept the handwritten ancestral charts just because I spent so much time on them. So thanks, Randy, for prompting me to stroll down Memory Lane.