Sloppy Genealogy: Susan Hyne Seaward

If you browse around this site, you might come upon a page for Susan Hyne Petherbridge. On that page I state that Susan Hyne Petherbridge married William Henry Mugford, a paymaster in the Royal Navy, on November 10, 1852.

However, if you were to browse around on or you might be lead to believe that William Henry Mugford married one Susan Hyne Seaward on August 12, 1848.

In fact, if you google “Susan Hyne Petherbridge”, as of this writing, the only results that appear are from this site.

So which Susan did William Henry Mugford the paymaster marry? Why do so many seem to believe that is was Susan Hyne Seaward? The answers to those questions are, respectively, Susan Hyne Petherbridge and making the mistake of relying solely on indexes.

The marriage index for the district of Stoke Damerel for July, August & September of 1848 lists in volume 9, page 534 a total of nine people, or four couples (and an extra groom?), but doesn’t clarify who married who.

Since later censuses show a Susan Hyne Mugford as the wife of William Henry Mugford, folks seem to have assumed that Susan Seaward married William Mugford.

Having actually ordered (and received) a copy of William Mugford’s marriage certificate from volume 9, page 534 I can tell you that he actually married Mary Howard and that the specific William Mugford in question was a farmer (wrong wife, and wrong William).

I’m not sure which of the other four gentlemen Susan Seaward actually married.

Having also ordered the marriage certificate of one William Henry Mugford, from the Plymouth district for October, November & December 1852, volume 5b, page 438, I can also tell you that he married Susan Hyne Petherbridge and was in fact a paymaster in the Royal Navy.

So, don’t assume that because you’ve found a entry in an index for a person with your ancestors name that it is in fact your ancestor. Nor should you assume that one of the several possible spouses listed is the correct one based solely on the first name. Sometimes you need to view the actual document listed in the index to verify.

And be wary of other people’s family trees. Not all the information contained has necessarily been properly vetted. Use other’s work as a reference, but always confirm with original sources.