Sunday, March 5, 2017

Transcription Errors: Case Study

Edward Prall's birth is frequently recorded as 23 March 1754 in Hunterdon Co., NJ. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and many soldiers born during the 1750s served in the Continental Army or militia. Therefore, the year of birth does not stand out until other factors are examined.

[1] Edward wrote his mother's will in 1760.
[2] Edward operated a merchant-trading business with Richard Reading during the 1760s.
[3] Brother James [b. c1729] married in 1757, as did brother Cornelius [b. 1734]. Siblings Elizabeth, Benjamin and Jemima were born c1738, c1740 and c1743 respectively.
[4] His father, Aaron was born in 1698 and mother Mary was born in 1699/1700.
[5] Edward was active with various Committees in Harford Co., MD in the 1770s.
[6] Mary Prall named her eldest son and her three youngest [Elizabeth, Benjamin and Jemima] in her will.

Checking off the list above:
[1] Could a 6 year old write his mother's will? Iffy, at best.
[2] A 6 year old in the trading business? Probably not.
[3] Could 5 siblings born between 1729 and 1743 have a brother born in 1754? Yes.
[4] Aaron would have been 56 and Mary 54 when little Edward was born. I don't think so!
[5] A teenager appointed to crucial committees? Again, iffy.
[6] Although Eliazabeth had reached 21 by 1760, the other two were about 19 and 16. Surely, Mary would have named her 6 year old!

Certain numbers can be read incorrectly under the right circumstances. Poor handwriting, a slip of the quill and careless carving on a headstone are examples of this. [1,7 / 3, 6, 8, 9 ] Extenuating circumstances suggest Edward was a victim of a transcription error at some point - a 5 should have been a 3. Thus Edward was born 23 March 1734.

He would have been 26 when his mother died and he went into business, the 3rd born to Aaron and Mary and he would have been approaching 30 as a committee member in Maryland.

Edward would have been about 32 when the war broke out, rather than 22.

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