Guilty of ….?

8 March 2016

Guilty? Tracing back into our ancestral histories, we often uncover untold stories. Perhaps stories our family members (or the families we are researching) might not have wished to see the light of day all these decades/centuries later. Tracing back into the past, we have to expect the unexpected. Pandora’s Box is a mystery…. are you prepared to find out what’s in the box?

The present day is interesting enough. Social media has much to answer for…. the recent trial of a Sunderland footballer has hit the media in grand style and, in the wake of the conviction, members of the footballing community and other people considered to be ‘in the public eye’ have decided to air their views on the situation. Why do people do this….? A judge and/or jury have made their own judgement/s. Their own assessment of the scenario presented to them in court. No amount of media attention will change their minds after they have been shown ‘hard evidence’. What do ‘celebrities’ hope to achieve by presenting their views in the public arena? Oh yes, I know. More attention on them…. but why?

It used to be “innocent until proven guilty” in years gone by. Now, I think it is trial by media and ‘guilty until proven innocent’. If you are guilty, you cover your tracks and have an alibi. But how do you prove yourself innocent? You don’t know that you need to keep ridiculously detailed records to explain yourself at any stage, if you are not guilty of any misdemeanour!!

Researching back in time, we may often wish that our ancestors left more detailed records i.e. left better tracks, so that tracing them was a little easier. However, if it was easy, would genealogy be such a popular pastime/hobby/obsession? I sincerely doubt it. The period we are researching in (generally) is before the internet had been invented/conceived. Back ‘in the day’, if someone committed a crime, it may have been reported in a newspaper. If it went to court, further records may exist. However, small scale issues may not have been recorded anywhere (more’s the pity).

Guilty? Innocent? What are we (as genealogists) looking for? If your descendants choose to look for you in 200 years time, what would you want them to see? What tracks do you want to leave? A point worth considering now more than ever….

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