Although my main focuses of research are the four branches leading from my grandparents, occasionally it is interesting to look at the other branches too.
Thomas Roberton (1841 - 1898) married Helen McIntosh in 1874. Helen's parents were Lauchlan McIntosh and Henrietta Hardie. This was proven by details from Helen and Thomas' marriage certificate. From further documentation, my father discovered that Henrietta's father was a William Hardie. My father took this information from the 1841 census which states William's birth year as 1801. Further investigation provided his parents, George Hardie and Henrietta Burnett.
Extensive research by David Peters (a descendant of Henrietta B) has proven that Henrietta Burnett's father was a black slave called Ong Tong who was christened by his owner and hence given the surname, Burnett. He married three times and Henrietta was one of several children.
When I contacted David, we found that we had discrepancies when it came to William Hardie's descendants. We both had the same William Hardie. That was definite. I decided to look back at my father's research.
When my father first found William Hardie, he took his date of birth from the 1841 census, 1801. My own investigations have further found 1851 and 1861 census which stated his birth year as 1798. Using these census, a map of the Angus and Perth area in Scotland, and IGI records, I discovered that my father had linked Henrietta Hardie to the wrong William. I also found her mother to be Elisabeth Walker.
Tracing my family back to Ong Tong would have been an interesting find but it appears that as far as I can trace so far, my ancestors were white and from Scotland, Yorkshire and Lancashire.
It just goes to show that the more information you have, the easier it is to patch together the past, and that it is imperative to double check everything.