Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

Weekly genealogy Prompt#15 – Close Only Counts in Horseshoes … and Sometimes Genealogy

How do you know when close counts in Genealogy? In a perfect world, everybody would have legible handwriting, perfect spelling and photographic memories. I have ran across many a transcription error in censuses and vital records while researching. When I run across an error, I submit a correction, where possible, so others will find the information easier.
But what happens if it’s not a transcription error, but an error in the primary document? One example I recently ran across researching my Libby relations, one record I found had my ancestor’s surname as Sibley on the original record. On this record, I thought it was the wrong person until I read further. Here is the marriage record for Benjamin Libby.


The proven facts are:

Benjamin Libby was born in Cornwall, England on September 24, 1843.
Benjamin’s parents were Isaac Libby and Grace George.
Benjamin Libby’s wife, Hanna Duck Libby died Jan. 13, 1884, leaving him with eight children 13 and under.
Benjamin Libby’s wife in the 1891 census is Jane.
Mary Jane Hannah was born in Quebec.

Comparing the facts with what is on the marriage record:

The age of the groom is correct.
The country of birth is correct.
The father’s first name is correct.
The mother’s first and maiden name are correct.
The fact that the groom was a widower was correct.
The location was correct.

To be sure that it was the right record I checked any records for the Sibley surname.
According to the censuses, there were no Sibleys in Essex County in the 1871,1881,1891,1901 or 1911.
There were no records anywhere for Isaac or Benjamin Sibley, not even this marriage record when I searched under “Sibley”.

So, my conclusion is this:
Benjamin Sibley and Benjamin Libby are the same person
Isaac Sibley is Isaac Libby
Mary Jane Hannah is Jane Libby. She probably would have went by Jane, which is common when the first name is Marie or Mary. Jane was born in Quebec of Irish-born parents, according to the 1891 census.

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Filed under: Genealogy, Weekly Prompts/09,

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