Latta Family Origins




The purpose of the site is to share information that might be valuable to genealogical researchers whose quest includes anyone with the name Latta or Latto.     The first step in sharing is that I am providing information that I have collected but in turn I hope all who use this site will be able to add information or correct errors that will inevitably have occurred.    All genealogy involves some (one hopes intelligent) guesswork.     A given individual called William Latta gets married and one tries to identify a birth that could be the same person.   If one had unlimited access to original birth, marriage and death certificates, a lot of the pieces (but not all) might fit.    But access to such records costs money so sometimes one guesses based on age and place.    Unusual names are of course easier to trace.    But as will be obvious from this site, a small number of first names dominated until the twentieth century.     Of all the male Lattas recorded prior to 1900, a stunning 86% had first names of Alexander, Andrew, David, George, James, John, Robert, Thomas and William.    These nine names are therefore particularly difficult to trace and to make connections.   A given Robert getting married might have three or four corresponding births that could be the correct one.   In such cases, I have tried to err on the side of caution and not guess too freely even when someone else might consider the link to be obvious.   

Let me provide one simple illustration from my own great-great grandfather.    I know his name was Thomas Latta.    From census records in 1851 and 1861, I know that he was born in Kilmarnock about 1810.     There is indeed an IGI entry for Kilmarnock in 1808.    Thus the situation might seem clear.  Thomas married in 1833 to Catherine McBlane.    But there is also a marriage in Kilmarnock in 1828 of a Thomas Latta to Janet Morton.    Is this a different Thomas or is it the one born in 1808 (no obvious alternative birth offers itself)?    And if it is the one born in 1808 did he marry twice within five years?    Perhaps if his first wife died in childbirth, a not uncommon occurrence at the time.     So there is a nagging doubt about the 1808 birth, particularly because a significant percentage of births at that time never made it into the parish records or did not get recorded in the IGI even if they did.      Then one has to look at other facts.    Scottish naming conventions were quite traditional although certainly were not always followed.     The convention was to name the first male child after the paternal grandfather and the second female child after the paternal grandmother.    In this case, Thomas named his first son, Robert and his second daughter, Isabella.     The Thomas born in 1808 had parents named Robert and Isobel.       That helped convince me that I was not being unreasonable to assume that Thomas Latta born 1808 in Kilmarnock was my great-great grandfather.     But even now, there is no way I can be entirely sure.


Since most of the records that I am listing are publicly available, I wrestled with the issue of privacy for those currently alive, knowing that some genealogy sites restrict such information.      However, anyone can see the entry for my own birth in the English records.     So should there be any concern for privacy in producing just the information that was registered and indexed?

Ultimately I decided to publish birth information up to 80 years ago, the marriage information up to 60 years ago and the death information up to 10 years ago.     Since I have records later than all these dates, if any researcher looking at their own family needs information later than these dates, I am happy to provide it via e-mail but will not publish it on the site. 

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