I have a private tree that I try to keep accurate; I try to use the public member tree hints only as a guide, and then I look for official sources or printed material like genealogy books to confirm what I find.
But I got really excited when I saw my ancestor Major Ralph Hart (b. 1680, d. 30 July 1749) on a number of public trees as a great, great grandson to Eustace Hart who married Mary de Vere. The trees list the connection this way:
Maj. Ralph Hart < John Hart (m. Mary Hunt) < John Hart (m. Mary Shoemaker) < John Hart (m. Elizabeth Peche) < (Sir) Eustace Hart
Now, the reason I got excited is that Mary de Vere is the daughter of John de Vere, who was the 16th Earl of Oxford, and there are a whole line of Earls before him tracing back to 1086 and possibly earlier, one who was instrumental in the forming of the Magna Carta, and the first in line being listed in the Domesday Book.
Believe me, I would LOVE to be somehow connected to the Earls of Oxford (see Wikipedia) and have a tree that goes back as far as 1000 AD, but I really doubt that Major Ralph Hart was descended from them and have been trying to find proof in the connection from sources other than other family trees. I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO FIND THAT PROOF. Plus, the dates simply don't work out. Mary de Vere was still married to her first husband when the first John Hart was born, and I suspect Mary and Eustace didn't have any children together; he was in his 70s when he married her, if the dates are any indication.
I have seen one source (via Google) say that Eustace Hart adopted John Hart. I have seen another source (again via Google) list Eustace Hart's issue. But everywhere else, it appears Eustace did not have any children with Mary de Vere.
My point is I've become really frustrated in my search -- more and more trees are taking in what I believe is erroneous information, which makes it harder for me to find the real sources that will help me find Ralph's true ancestors or either confirm or deny his connection to the De Vere family.
Can anyone help me out and point me in the right direction?