I have a love/hate relationship with Robert S. Canney's, The Early Marriages of Strafford County, New Hampshire 1630-1850 (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1991, in two volumes) with supplement (1997) and supplement #2 (2000). I met Mr. Canney once in the 1990s and I told him you couldn't do Strafford County genealogy without his books, and I still believe that to be true. I, in fact, first used his work when it was just notebooks in the Dover Public Library before it was published in 1991. So this work and I go back a long way.
There is a difference between being necessary for research and being, in my mind, excellent for research. These books collect marriage information for anyone in Strafford County. That's great and I refer to it constantly. However, you cannot tell by an entry where the marriage information comes from. Is a vital record? a church record? from a town history? genealogy? You don't know. And that's a big problem, because there's some incorrect records in that book. I can only speak to the Pinkhams and Yeatons with authority, but, as they say, mistakes were made. Certainly I can now spot those records that come from less authoritative sources like Landmarks of Ancient Dover as opposed to Dover Vital Records, but it takes some more research on my part to find the real record that Canney is listing.
Which brings us to my current hate item. I am trying to write up my ancestor Samuel4 (William3-2) Wallis. Samuel lived at Greenland and then moved to Barrington. In Canney's book, listed twice on II:554 and 556 we find "Samuel Wallis married February 7, 1755 at Barrington, Sidney Tilley, daughter of Samuel." The variant listing is under Samuel Wallace and includes "by Rev. John Adams" who was the minister at Durham, N.H. at the time. Samuel4 certainly married Phebe Libby at Greenland on 23 June 1737 (Greenland VRs, p. 47) so this could be a second marriage. Here's the problems:
- I can find no record of this marriage. It's not in the Barrington Town Records or Vital Records, both of which start a decade later than 1755. It's not in the Durham Genealogical Records reprinted in the New Hampshire Genealogical Record Volume 1.
- There ain't no way a girl was called Sidney in 18th century America. Just no way.
- There is no Tilley family in Strafford County. If you look at Canney's own female index, Sidney is the only one listed.
- The marriage records of Rev. John Adams of Durham don't exist anymore. Because we know he was the minister there, most genealogists and historians take liberties and say that anyone married in or around Durham was married by him. I'll agree that that is the likely case, but it infers a listing and that listing doesn't exist. Only the records of his predecessor the Rev. Hugh Adams exist.
Now there was a Cilley family and a Willey family in the area. And possibly Sidney/Sydney is a mistranscription for Cynthia or some other name. However, for now, this is a non-record in my eyes and a red herring. I hate red herrings.