Explanation of Spencer Numbers

Any suggestions for improvements on this explanation would be appreciated. I had real trouble with this and feel it still goes in circles.

This Rowley data collection started first from the collection of material collected and published by Ernst Spencer of New York. To differentiate between the many individuals with the same name and to keep track of who had which child, Ernie established a number scheme we call the Spencer Numbers. (He is a little modest on this issue, but we find it useful to use this term. If anyone objects enough, we can change it to the ROWLEY number.) 


Each SPENCER number is composed of three parts: the branch hyphen the generation number dot a sequence number. This might be 12-3.005 which would be branch 12, generation 3, and the fifth identified individual of the 3rd generation. 

In combination, this is associated with a specific individual. One and only one person in our database and on our web site will have that number. This is not to say that a Rowley may have only one Spencer number. They will have only one Spencer number at a time, but that number may change if the branches change or if the individual is found to belong to a different family. We will make every attempt to record any time this happens. 

Branch Number 

A branch number will be assigned to each family descendancy for which there is a separate origin. This means that our goal is to assign a branch number to each immigrant and follow the immigrant's descendents as a separate branch. 

In practice, we find that we sometimes cannot identify the immigrant ancestor (at least at this time), so we will assign them their own branch number. When we find that we can combine two branches, usually one into another, then one branch number will be retired (to be reassigned later) or both will be retired and a totally new branch number will be assigned. So an index of branch and numbers will be posted and may change periodically. 

In some instances, a numbering system already exists in a published genealogy, such as that of Branch 2. If the system is expandable, then a new system isn't needed. Branch 1, on the other hand, isn't so fortunate. So an expansion of the branch system is used. This is explained below. 

In general, numbers are assigned based on wanting to trace those with the surname Rowlee (and its variants). Thus, in general, only the males who lived to maturity are assigned numbers. The exception to this is when a child used the mother's Rowley name. Then the mother (e.g., Rowlee daughter) would be assigned a number and the child would be tracked from there. 

Generation Number 

The generation number, usually, identifies how removed the individual is from the immigrant with the first generation being the immigrant. So the second generation, even if they immigrated with their father, are still considered generation 2. 

As usual there are exceptions. With Branch 10 (Joab Rowley of Louisiana), we found that Joab had immigrated with his father. But since there were no other children and Joab's descendents had already been numbered, we simply continued with Joab as generation 1 and gave his father a zero (0). This shows that our method is not set in stone, but rather is intended to be a practical method of keeping track of individuals in an ever expanding avalanche of data.

Sequence Number 

The sequence number is a unique number that in combination with the branch and generation numbers should identify one and only one individual. These numbers are not directly sequential. Just because you see a 6-4.017 and a 6-4.026, that doesn't mean there are necessarily any between. 

We also have not attempted to assign the numbers by order of birth. This often occurs, but is not intentional. And no attempt will be made to re-number if we find that the order of birth is different than what we thought when we numbered them. 

Ernie used these numbers to make some sense of the Branch 1 descendancy. 

Branch One Additions 

Since Henry Rowley arrived before 1634 and since the family was prolific in producing sons, many of the Rowleys in North America can trace back to Henry. In fact, we have documented 15 generations. 

We also have to deal with individuals where clear connections from one generation to another are not known. We handle this by having spaces with assigned numbers in excess of what is probably needed so we can 'slip' these people in as we find out where they fit. 

So to make some sense of relationships and keep track, the provisional numbering scheme, as Ernie called it, has two echelons for branch one. The first echelon contains generations 1 through 7 and the second echelon, generations 8 through 15. 

1st Echelon 

We made some assumptions about the numbers of sons in order to group the offspring. Each of Henry's male descendents of generations 3 through 7 is assumed (e.g. allowed) 6 sons. That is, each father of generations 2 through 6 have been assigned 6 numbered spaces for male offspring. 

In most cases, not all of the six numbers were used. In a few cases, a number had to be 'borrowed' from a neighboring set of six. The number of spaces set up for each generation is: 

1st 1   5th 216
2nd 1   6th 1296
3rd 6   7th 7776
4th 36      

2nd Echelon 

The second grouping of Henry's descendents hinges on each male of the 7th generation as the starting point. Again, there are pre-numbered spaces set up for each 7th generation male. The 8th generation has six slots. Each 8th generation male had four 9th generation slots. Continuing, there are three 10th generation, three 11th generation, three 12th generation, etc. Putting it in a different way, each 7th generation male has slots for his male descendents as follows: 

8th 6   12th 648
9th 24   13th 1944
10th 72   14th 5832
11th 216   15th 17496

The manner of displaying the 2nd echelon number is to take the 7th generation identification number, add a slash (/) at the end and follow that with the proper identification number of the descendent. For example, a male of generation 11 might show like this: 1-7.0339/11.191. 

One thing to keep in mind is that all 1st echelon identification numbers are unique while all 2nd echelon numbers exist for every 7th generation male who reaches maturity. The 2nd echelon numbers are only unique when used in conjunction with the 7th generation identification number. 

Why do we bother assigning numbers in these blocks? Because we would like to be able to look at a number and 'estimate' by doing simple arithmetic as to which previous generation is the father. Thus, the men with numbers 1-7.0649 through 1-7.0652 are sons of 1-6.0109 and grandsons of 1-5.019 


If you aren't concerned about the details of the discussion above, just think of this all as simply one way to tell these people apart. When you see a record in the census saying that this census record refers to 'this Rowley', you can then go to the correct branch chart and see where he connects to the immigrant or you can do a search by that number and find all records on this site that are known to associate with that person.

Last Modified 02/05/17