Five Wives & A Feather Bed: Using Indirect and Negative Evidence to Resolve Conflicting Claims

Mark A. Wentling, MLS, CG
May 18, 2022
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1m 07s
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About BCG
4m 27s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 48s
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1m 24s
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Key Concepts
3m 28s
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2m 01s
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Conflicting Claims
3m 04s
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38m 47s
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13m 05s
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2m 08s
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Questions / answers
9m 43s

About this webinar

Genealogical scholars make conflicting claims about the number of wives, and the number and mothers of the children, of Joseph Brownell, a Mayflower descendant of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, born at Little Compton, Rhode Island, 16 February 1699, to Thomas Brownell and Esther Taber. These conflicting claims raise significant questions about the makeup of Joseph Brownell’s family. Did he have one, two or five wives? Did he have one, three or eight children? To which wife, or wives, were they born? The presenter will lead participants through reasonably exhaustive research and standards-based evaluation of indirect and negative evidence found in Quaker meeting records, and vital, land and probate records to demonstrate how proof can be constructed to answer these questions. Correlation of this evidence with the timespan of each marriage will then enable his children to be assigned to their correct mothers.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Mark A. Wentling, MLS, CG, owner of Ancestor Introductions, is a full-time, Board-certified genealogist in the Boston-Providence area with more than 25 years of research experience. He is an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven, where
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  1. LR
    Lorraine Rogers
    2 years ago

    This was really interesting and informative. I love case studies and this one was superb.

  2. NS
    Nicole Sparks
    2 years ago

    This was so beautifully researched and clearly explained. I appreciated that even the bits of dissenting information (in the un-sourced genealogical works) were addressed. Not only are these clear examples of negative and indirect evidence, but they’re part of a very interesting and satisfactory research project!

  3. ND
    NetaJane Doris
    2 years ago

    One of the most organized, well documented, understandable case studies I have heard, during my 50 years of research. Well Done!

  4. HS
    Helen Schenkelaars
    2 years ago

    This was superb in every respect! To achieve that level of clarity for people unfamiliar with either the research in that time and place or the family concerned, both in presenting the evidence and analysis, is difficult but was first class here. I know I will rewatch this, thank you.

  5. MB
    Margaret Balcom
    2 years ago

    This was very informative as to using direct and indirect evidence. I love case studies and this has given me insight how to do the footwork. Thank you!

  6. ZD
    Zack Daugherty
    2 years ago

    Love watching case studies such as this.

    Curious if the Joseph Brownell of Canada being attributed as the son of Joseph Brownell of Dartmouth and Leah Lawton not being a certainty given lacked of sourced records for this supposed connection. Is it possible to evaluate this assertion using DNA assuming the Joseph Brownell in Canada had descendants? This would be an extremely difficult undertaking with atDNA – but if patriline descendants of this Joseph in Canada exist in the present day AND ones exist for Joseph Brownell of Darthmouth via his other sons; or even via his father Thomas and/or his brother Thomas; then it maybe possible to support or easily dismiss this connection with a targeted testing research plan.

  7. BF
    Beth Finch McCarthy
    2 years ago

    Excellent presentation! The way Mark presented the evidence in a logical way, whether by family group, record set, or biographical timeline, was clear and digestible for anyone not familiar with the time period. I wish I’d chatted with him before I embarked on my Mayflower client project. Quaker records, he reminds us, are so important but often passed over in Colonial research. Great work!

  8. WB
    Wanda Bower
    2 years ago

    Excellent case study and clearly explained. I’m currently working on distinguishing one to three (or more!) men with the same name who all seem to have married women named Elizabeth. This webinar makes me think that, with enough persistence and sufficient record keeping, I might be able to untangle my own mystery.


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