Hasping! #OnePlaceStudies #Sticklepath

Hasping. Such a strange word hasp. Lovers of DIY and pirate kings know the slotted hinged metal plate that secures a door or chest lid, is called a hasp. Fitted over a metal loop and secured by a pin or padlock, that is a hasp. A picture is much easier to understand – sorry no treasure chest to hand!

Hasp above the latch, ready for a pin or padlock to secure the shed door

In “Family History Nuts and Bolts” (and hasps!) Andrew Todd describes hasping as a sophisticated family reconstitution tool (chapter 7). Basically it is securing the facts. Ensuring that this Mary Smith is the right one in the right place and time and is actually the mother of this particular John. I find prisoners and court cases particularly difficult to hasp – perhaps appropriate given the metaphor of lock up! Whilst I might get a thrill from having a petty criminal in my family or feel ashamed and not want this to be someone in my family, there are often few details to help us feel secure in the correct identification. Locking the criminal out of your tree, secure in the knowledge this can’t be your Harold Shipman is equally important – as is recording the evidence and negative findings so you don’t repeat the process next time.

Arguably for One-Place studies involving many families it is difficult to provide the many layers of proof we might like. At least two original sources for each fact is just not always possible in a reasonable time frame.

We might start with a memorial, a gravestone which, if we are lucky, names a wife and child. This may lead us to census information and we can often follow a family over decades through the census. The same names ages and relationships help confirm this is the same family. There are always those outliers though – the teenager who goes off to be a domestic servant in another household. Then there are those cousins who have almost exactly the same names and are similar ages, to confuse us. Hasping allows us to confirm the people are correct despite a move for example. There are many techniques and tools described in genealogy text books and family history blogs to ensure your research is valid. Today I am just thinking about one softer tool, that which comes from sharing your findings with others, perhaps enabling another person to check your findings, not in a formal way, but another opinion nevertheless.

Some feedback is positive, but when others have different findings it is initially disappointing – It is always heartening when someone looking into the same family pays a compliment, suggesting they agree with your findings. The occasional knock-back, for example, leaving me red-faced when I bumped off Adelaide Finch in a place she never visited and deprived her family of many happy years was a welcome wake up call to double my efforts to hasp and correct my findings. A very good learning point too. Do not assume the only death for the name coming up on a search is necessarily the person you are looking at, even if the age is about right. Sharing your research is also a motivator for getting it right!

So how do you share findings? Many advise only sharing some of your findings to draw relatives in – cousin bait. Certainly something to think about, as we might learn something useful from each other. Websites to share your findings might include the Findagrave website, Family search, Wikitree (free genealogy website with an emphasis on sources), Lost Cousins, the common commercial sites – how many might you add information to? How can you find other opportunities to share your findings? The answer is within our grasp….

The One-Place Studies conference on 20th November 2021. This year we will learn about the first steps to studying a place; sources to consider from family and local history and social history perspectives: not only researching a bunch of individuals, families and landmarks, but making connections to form a bigger picture. Our fourth and final talk is all about publishing and publicising your research – easy if you know how! This talk promises those answers – ways to promote and share your research with the world, both online and offline. Plus plenty of friendly discussion.

There is still time to join in time to ‘come’ to the online conference if you are interested in learning ways to investigate the place your ancestors lived, are a seasoned One-Placer or are considering starting a One-Place study. Membership of the Society is just £10 and some people (eg #GenZ) are entitled to free membership! Membership entitles you to attend the conference for free, tap into the support of this friendly group and a range of stimulating monthly webinars and discussions. See you there!

Ref: Todd, Andrew The Nuts and Bolts Series:1. Family History Nuts and Bolts Problem Solving through family reconstitution techniques. 3rd edition August 2015 First published by Allen & Todd 1998


My #OnePlaceStudy (OPS) research this week has involved an outlier, someone buried in Sticklepath but who I suspect never lived here, though her mother did, and her mother’s family were one of the key Sticklepath families during the 19th century. She is also an outlier in terms of her death being barely 50 years ago, generally a boundary I have set myself for the OPS (focus on 1770-1970).

Artist Katharine Jowett

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