Illegitimacy In My Family Tree

Ann gave birth to the illegitimate son of a married man…oops #1.

The second “oops” is for the second word in the entry, after “James.” Many online trees give James the middle name of Spurious or Spanions. If you look carefully at the handwriting, the word does look like “Spanions.” This is NOT his middle name. Scouring the pages before and after this one, you’ll see the word “Spurious” several times. By an old definition, it meant “illegitimate.”

I cannot find evidence that Ann ever married William Harrison and I have no idea if he was ever a part of James’ life. There is a marriage record for Ann Astle and William Dorman in 1795. Public online trees provide death dates and places for Ann and William (both of them) without any record proving it. They also assume William Harrison and William Dorman are the same person. This tangled case of identities will be a fun one to figure out.

Genealogy tip: Don’t believe everything you see in online trees. Do the research. Double-check other people’s work.

If you need a fresh set of eyes on your family tree or need help building it, let me know.

1 Derbyshire Church of England Parish Registers (Chellaston), unpaginated, baptism of James Astle, 5 August 1780; digital image, “Derbyshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812,” Ancestry ( accessed 25 Jan 2023).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: