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5:59pm on Sunday, 27th October, 2019:



One of the things that sometimes happens when you do genealogy research is you reach a point where you have a choice between two individuals and you don't know which is the right one.

I have this several times in my family tree. At the moment, I'm looking at some guy who was born in a small village (Hunsingore) in Yorskhire in the 1670s. His name is Richard Whincup. There were two people called Richard Whincup baptised in the village during that period: one has a father called William; one has a father called John. I have no way of knowing which one is the record for the particular Richard Whincup in whom I'm interested.

The genealogy software I use, Family Historian, is very good. It has a few minor issue (the one that bugs me the most is that you can't mark a record as the one you want it to load when you start it up), but on the whole it's excellent. It is, however, missing a feature that would be incredibly useful, but that no other genealogy software I've come across has either: this is an "or" option.

I want to be able to say that the father of Richard Whincup is either William Whincup or John Whincup. This means I can then pursue each option separately, and if I ever do find out which one is the right one I can delete the other one and remove the "or".

This would be exceptionally useful. When I first look for where an individual was born, I almost always find more than one record and it would be great to be able to hold them as separate "or" upward branches while I narrowed it down. It wouldn't be all that hard to implement, either — just change the parent fields to lists of possible-parents fields for each individual's record.

It turns out that John and William Whincup are brothers, so I can pick up the tree again anyway after skipping a generation. It's just annoying that I either have to plump for one of them or leave the father of Richard Whincup as unknown.

All you genealogy software development companies reading this: get to it!

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Copyright © 2019 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).