During the course of genealogical research there often come times when you need to make an educated guess based on associated recorded evidence at hand. I am not referring to making assumptions that certain ancestors are yours when there is absolutely no evidence to suggest a connection.
The following article is an example of both ways of building a family tree. It is always good to have documentary evidence to prove each step of the way back in time showing child to parent, to grandparent, et cetera, but then when you reach the time period when the parish registers were in their infancy and the records are few it is a different matter. But, however, likely a relationship is, it is still best practise to clearly state any guesses or assumptions that you have made if you are going to put the ‘educated guess’ in written form and state what evidence you have used to come to your conclusions.
My ancestry traces back to an Alexander Pye, son of John and Joane Pye, from the parish of Haughton in Staffordshire. The Haughton parish registers give the burial records of John and Joane Pye in 1570 and the baptisms (and burials) of the children of Alexander and his wife Elizabeth and also the baptisms of children to a William and Margery Pye. There is the marriage of an Elizabeth Pye to Richard Albrighton and they had three sons, before Richard Albrighton’s untimely death just seven years after his marriage. His widow, Elizabeth Albrighton then married William Ward and they had a daughter named Joan Ward.
There is a book compiled by the Staffordshire Record Society in 1976 from manuscripts from the early 1530s that lists John and Joane Pye with children? Thomas, Margaret, Agnes, Alexander and Edmund as living in Alstone in the parish of Haughton. Joan and John Pye were listed in the burial register and Alexander appears numerous times in the registers. John and Agnes Pye are also named in the Wills of other Haughton residents. The other children, Thomas, Margaret and Edmund do not appear in the parish registers at all or in any land records or Wills (either having died prior to the commencement of the registers or having moved to another parish).
So now there was the question of whether William Pye and Elizabeth Pye were related to Alexander, perhaps being younger siblings. It was established that William and Elizabeth were definitely siblings. It was stated in the Will of Joan Ward, Elizabeth’s daughter, debts to her “uncle William Pye”. The Will of Richard Albrighton, Elizabeth’s first husband, named his wife, Elizabeth, and Alexander Pye as executors and it was witnessed by William Pye. This highly suggests that Alexander Pye was a sibling to William and Elizabeth. This thinking is what I would call an “educated guess” and could reasonably be inserted into a family history with explanation.
There are a large number of Albrighton family trees on Ancestry.com.uk that claim descent from the parents of Richard Albrighton, first husband of Elizabeth Pye, that have no basis on fact. These are all descendants of U.S. Albrighton families. The “trees” show descent from Ralphe Albrighton, grandson of Richard, however neither the parish registers nor any Wills or Chancery records support the assumption made. A good article listed on the website Rootsweb’s message board titled “Albrighton Family of Haughton Stafordshire and links to Albrittons of U.S.” draws evidence based conclusions from the records that do not support the claims that any great-grandchildren of Richard and Elizabeth Albrighton went to the United States. It would appear that someone has randomly chosen an Albrighton family in England and followed the parish records back a few more generations and topped those records with some highly sceptical ancestry.