Alan: I think your friend’s assessment is a little harsh but the warning is certainly fair and appreciated.I have made many similar pronouncements regarding sources in the last year.Last month, I disparaged Burke’s Peerage as a reference even though I know the vast majority of the work is correct.I have always argued that we must always provide sources for info and we also need to evaluate our sources.An evaluation, such as your friend gave, does not mean that we cannot use Blakeway but that we should be careful in how we use his information
Blakeway I have not seen enough of his writing to fully evaluate; however, it is one of the most commonly referenced sources when discussing Shropshire history.I do note that both Eyton and Morris point out errors in Blakeway.It is good to get feed back from your friend.
Eyton is a monumental work based on his reading apparently of every ancient manuscript of Shropshire.If he has a failing, it is that he felt free to speculate when the information wasn’t clear.This is fine.The problem is that such speculation (Matilda may have been the wife of Sir Soandso) becomes fact when placed in a gedcom and posted to the web (Matilda m. Sir Soandso).I appreciate that Eyton almost always gives his reasoning behind what he gives as fact and as speculation.This allows us to use our own brains to agree or disagree.
Morris does an even better job when it comes to references.His statements are backed up in footnotes.He gives pages transcripts of the original Eyton documents that he found and often gives both the original Latin of a document as well as his translation.
I know of no so source that is error free so we must depend on our own evaluation of the information.I think very highly Eyton’s and Morris’ research (at least they read the original documents) and the manuscripts they produced, despite any errors (which are, I feel, are relatively few).
I am curious to know your friend meant by “lack of imagination”.I am also curious to know what an Oxford professional genealogist charges – perhaps the Eaton Family Association might have some work for him.