How To Estimate And Record The Dates And Ages In Your Family Tree

When building a family tree, dates and ages are among the key elements that you’ll want to include for every individual you add to the tree. But very often, these are elusive elements and you may end up with figures that are far from accurate.


So, is it okay to use these estimated figures for a family tree?


Usually, yes, estimates of dates and ages are not only acceptable but also necessary at times to go further with your family research.


But there is a certain way to estimate and record them that makes them acceptable. So, when you’re researching family history, make sure to follow these simple guidelines.


Estimate The Dates As Precisely As Possible

It can feel very convenient to simply write that an ancestor died in a certain year without specifying the exact date or month, but it makes your research look weak.


Instead, take a closer look. If a certain ancestor—let’s call him Benjamin—made his will on 14 June 1867, and the probate process started on 5th September 1867, then it would be safe to say, that Benjamin’s death date lies somewhere between June and September in 1867.


This kind of close estimation makes your research more accurate and will cause less confusion for someone else using your family tree as a resource for their family research.


Use A Few Simple Tricks To Guesstimate Ages

Over the years, family historians have established some basic rules of thumb for estimating ages when there’s very little information available. These are based on historical context, common practices at the time, and of course also common sense. They may not work for every region or situation, but they seem to work for most.


  • It can be assumed that a couple got married a year before the birth of their first child;
  • Women can be assumed alive at least until after the birth of their youngest child, while men could’ve died any time in the 9 months before the birth of their youngest known child;
  • Siblings were typically born 2 years apart;
  • It’s okay to assume that a person is at least 21 years old if they are named as guardians, or are on the voter roll, or are named witnesses in a legal document;
  • Men paying poll tax must be at least 21 years of age;
  • Property owners would also have to be above 21;
  • If a person isn’t mentioned in the tax rolls after a certain period, they’re either dead or above 50 years of age;
  • Males serving in the military are at least 16 years old;
  • Children choosing their own guardians could be between the age of 14 to 21 years.

Dates and ages often form the basis of your genealogical research, so you ideally want them to be recorded as accurately as possible. If you’re struggling with this, it’s best to reach out for our traditional genealogy services at DavisDNA And Family Research. Our professional genealogists can help you estimate and record dates and ages properly.


Get in touch with us to learn more.