My partner has an ancestor, Peggy Crossley, probably born around 1750, who married Henry Rawlinson in Burnley, Lancaster (source) in October 1767.

I have two candidate baptismal records that seem plausible, though neither of them have any link to the James Crosley who witnessed the marriage.

  • daughter of John Crosley baptised 14 Oct 1750 in Heptonstall, Yorkshire, about 13 miles from Burnley
  • daughter of Abram and Ann Crossley, baptised 23 Sep 1750 in Rochdale, Lancashire, about 16 miles from Burnley.

I have no particular reason to favour one or the other possibility, and this far back there aren't many other records to go on.

Does anyone have any suggestions for approaches to take to help work out which is the right one? If it helps, I'm pretty sure the other one married a William Howorth, also in Burnley.

  • The strategies for eliminating one of a pair of candidate ancestors are almost exactly the same as those for answering How can I establish (and describe) my confidence that the child and adult are the same person?.
    – Fortiter
    May 2, 2013 at 11:51
  • 2
    That was my question, so I'm alert to the similarities, but that was more about wanting to find a way to summarize how sure one is about a particular conclusion. This is about strategies to gather information when there is no reason to favor one conclusion over another. I'm also interested in how to manage that information, but perhaps I didn't make that clear enough. Please understand that although I'm using specific actual example cases, I am hoping that we can construct nice canonical answers of use to future visitors.
    – Verbeia
    May 4, 2013 at 0:14
  • Some of this discussion may be relevant mixcloud.com/malcolm-noble/…
    – Malcolm
    Jun 18, 2017 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


The strategy I would adopt is to thoroughly research both individuals for whom you have baptisms forward in time -- look for deaths, marriages (not necessarily in that order), sibling baptisms -- anything that lets you build up a picture of each individual which may or may not be consistent with the facts you know about your person of interest.

Look also for wills of the parents of the individuals -- you might be lucky and find a smoking gun as I did (the will of the father of an Ann John that explicitly named her husband and residence, which confirmed without a doubt that she was my ancestor).

Another possible source of information that will help is the record of banns of the marriage of Peggy Crossley and Henry Rawlingson (as published in both their home parishes). It's not unknown for the parish incumbent to helpfully record additional information when recording the banns, so worth checking even if you have the marriage entry from the PRs.

  • I don't know how I missed it before but the daughter of Abraham and Ann died as an infant. So I might well have managed to narrow it down.
    – Verbeia
    Jul 17, 2013 at 13:22
  • @Verbeia, I love it when a plan comes together :)
    – user104
    Jul 17, 2013 at 13:29

You need first of all to make sure you've got data from all the parish churches and chapels in the area. https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Lancashire will help you with a list of all parishes and all the chapels in those parishes. Plus data about what's a/v from those places. By no means all registers will be online.

Then you need to have a look at those sources such as "Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks" on http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/ You may have some reason to discount her but LanOPC has this in Burnley itself:

Baptism: 1 May 1748 St Peter, Burnley, Lancashire, England

Pegy Crossley - Daughter of Thomas Crossley Abode: Burnley

Register: Baptisms 1726 - 1756, Page 54 
Source: LDS Film 1517690

(Note spelling!)


I also suggest checking burials as many times an individual has tombstone notations or is buried in a plot with or near other family members.

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