I posted a related question here so it might be helpful to read it:

England 1700s - how to decide between two good record matches?

Thomas Fowler

B: unknown England

Marriage: 1766 Stillingfleet to Jane Hare, Yorkshire and he was living in Thorganby at the time

Research Question: When and where was Thomas Fowler born?


As we are in the 1700s now there are no census records or civil registration records. All that exists are church records for birth, marriage, and burial. Some people might have had a will and there was a probate court in York. That's all there is. Only one institution has the church records because it's a small village and there was only one church there.

The keeping of parish records date back to 1538 when Cromwell, at the Court of Henry VIII, ordered that every wedding, baptism and burial should be recorded.

Available sources: church records held at the Borthwick Institute for Archives

I asked the archivist and he said that there are no known gaps in the records and no known missing or destroyed records. "We hold the original records for the parish at the Borthwick Institute. Registers 1-9 (covering christenings, marriages and burials during the period 1653-1885) are available to view in the first instance via microfilm at the Institute."

This is from the archivist: https://borthcat.york.ac.uk/downloads/pr-thorg.pdf

It reads like the records cover baptisms from 1653 - 1885.

The FindMyPast website has the images for the records. https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Thorganby,_Yorkshire_Genealogy https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/0d99c682-fc95-30d2-a39c-cddc8490317c

I also found a detailed history of Thorganby but it doesn't mention any 'Fowlers': https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/east/vol3/pp112-120

Also, the British Newspaper archive could be a source but why list it if there are no record matches?

What are some reasons why this would not meet the GPS if there is only one source afterall?

1 Answer 1


There is very rarely only one source.

Have you considered looking for Fowlers in (for example) land tax records, property transaction records, the "parish chest" (church-warden's and constables records/accounts), poor law records, manorial court records, law court records...

To meet the GPS you must expand the range of sources you consult, and use those sources to understand the FAN club of the person you're researching (as explained at https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/a/16352/6485)

The National Archives have a range of records mentioning Thorganby for the period in which you are interested.

If you can get hold of a second-hand copy, Mark D. Herbers Ancestral Trails is an excellent book on the breadth of sources for British family history, and will help you broaden your outlook away from 'only parish records'.

  • RE: FAN principle - How can I know who his neighbours were if there is no census? Mar 19, 2020 at 9:16
  • 1
    @user1261710 It is going to be a long time until all records are digitised and most of them I suspect will never be. Right now, you can't visit TNA but you need to put making a trip (or paying another genealogist to make a trip) on your todo list. Since both your candidate baptisms are back before the 'easy' records, I don't recommend picking one yet. You can also try contacting a relevant family history or local history society to see if they have done any work that helps you.
    – user6485
    Mar 20, 2020 at 6:54
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    @user1261710 In the meantime, I do recommend Ancestral Trails -- it's excellent for understanding what might be available.
    – user6485
    Mar 20, 2020 at 10:48
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    @user1261710 You can demonstrate that you've carried out a "reasonably exhaustive search." Bit if you know that there are records you haven't consulted, that isn't true.
    – user6485
    Mar 21, 2020 at 18:28
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    The GPS includes "analysis and correlation of the collected information" - if that analysis shows that information is missing (eg 5 guys called Fred Bloggs being baptized but 6 being buried) then the logic needs to demonstrate that the missing baptism is irrelevant. Tricky if you don't know its details. I think that's the point - the one source needs to be internally correlated and also the full list of parishes need to be correlated with what can be found in that one source.
    – AdrianB38
    Mar 22, 2020 at 23:58

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