Rule #1 for genealogy in the early 21st century has to be “don’t trust information from trees you find online: verify first”. That said, I’ve actually had some quite good results from following back some online trees, and cross-checking for possible alternative candidates for some of the people. I was even able to trace one line from my in-laws’ tree back into the mid-1500s, to Leonard Kighley and Margaret Man of Rylstone.
But some of the trees I find on line that appear to connect to other parts of my in-laws’ tree go back all the way to the 1400s. For example, there are several public trees on Ancestry.com that go back to a Thomas Crudgington born 1425 in Shropshire, and may connect to the Mary Crudgington who married Richard Millichap in Stoke St Milborough, Shropshire, in 1732.
There were no consistent parish records back that far in England. So unless someone has gotten very lucky with wills or some sort of contemporary family history, I’m unsure where they get the information from initially. The information might be wrong, but it is surely not entirely made up? Assuming I can get step by step back from the 1700s to the beginning of extant parish records, how would I go about sourcing information about the earlier people?