Tag Archives: census

Top Ten 1921 Census Tips

The dust is beginning to settle on the 1921 Census release, and I’ve had chance to familiarise myself with Findmypast’s online search, Here are some tips to help you get the best out of it.


1. Draw up your wish list and set your budget.
I’m not entering into the debate over the cost of viewing the 1921 Census online, or the tie-in with Findmypast as sole provider for the immediate future. Only to say it is standard for these major record releases, and company’s have to recoup the massive digitisation costs involved. Filming, transcribing and indexing something on this scale does not come cheap. And there is opportunity to access the 1921 Census for free – at The National Archives (Kew), Manchester Central Library, and The National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth). But then you need to factor in transport costs, and possibly an overnight stay. Family history, like many other hobbies and interests, does cost.

What I will say is before you even start searching is draw up a wish list of those people you are most interested in, prioritise them, set your maximum budget and stick to it. Otherwise it is all too easy to get carried away.

I compiled my immediate wish list, for direct line ancestors alive in 1921, and stuck to it. It amounted to eight images. Any other records, including ones relating to my one-name study (there are 527 people named Aveyard in this census), and my Batley St Mary’s one-place study will have to wait until I can get to Manchester Central Library for free access, or until it all becomes part of the Findmypast subscription.


2. Play around with searches to familiarise yourself with the system.
The second piece of advice I would give is don’t dive straight in. Play around with searches to get used to how the system works. That way you are going to get the best, and most accurate, results – and crucially minimise the risk of purchasing the wrong record.


3. Be aware of transcription errors.
This release appears to be littered with them across the entire range of possible searches, and this will affect results. Try to keep an open mind when searching. Be flexible with searches, and alert to possible transcriptions errors.

For example, for one of my ancestors the Christian name Martin was incorrectly transcribed as Morton, perhaps signalling the transcriber as a fan of the Morton Farrier Genetic Genealogist book series! I did not automatically discount the entry. Based on other information I was able to identify it as a likely error and took the plunge. But it could, depending on the error scale, result in a negative search. And the pay-per-view angle may rule out speculative purchases.

There is a transcription error reporting mechanism if you purchase the transcript – as I said I’ve not done this, preferring to spend my money on the original image. If you have not purchased the transcript you can still report the error, but the method is via email to Findmypast, at transcriptsupport@findmypast.com. The link giving more details about this is here.


4. Make use of the Advance Search facilities.
When you conduct a search you are given some basic information to enable you to determine if the result is the one for your family. For example, when searching for my great grandad Patrick Cassidy in Batley, the following clues are given.

Findmypast image

The hint says the record includes Patrick, John, Mary and two others. My problem with this was no John is linked to my great grandad’s family. And who are the two others? Can I confirm these names? Was this the correct family?

There is a simple way you can drill down this information to a more complete, granular level. Go to the Advanced Search. Leave the ‘Who’ boxes blank, and go down to the ‘Parish’ box and put in ‘Batley,’ and in other ‘Other Household Member” box type ‘Patrick Cassidy’. The results confirm the full names, birth year and birthplace of the other four members of the household, including Anne Cassidy, Mary Cassidy and Nelly Cassidy, plus Durham-born John Nixon. All this gave me confidence that I would be purchasing the correct record.

This is one example of an Advanced Search which worked well in this instance, though it may prove more challenging for common names. And some found Registration District worked better than Parish.

However, do not be put off. There are lots of other filters and options too. It is a case of playing with them to find the ones which help narrow the results suited to particular circumstances. And you can find lots of information simply through the free Advanced Search – and this may be sufficient to construct plans and spreadsheets for example for a one-place or one-name study.

One other thing to be aware of when searching on age is this census has a change. It gives it in years and months, with those under one month noted as such, rather than only years. This may affect searches, though it is always good practice to broaden age searches to give years +/- either side, as accuracy and ages in the census do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

And, in a similar vein, do always keep at the back of your mind transcription errors and (in)accuracy of information provided by ancestors, which can skew results. Which leads onto Tip 5.


5. Be aware people may not be where expected, or tell the truth with the information they give.
There’s always the possibility that people may not be with their family on census night. The timing of this census, 19 June, instead of early spring has added complications. People may have been on holiday.

There is also the issue of seasonal workers. My County Mayo-born grandpa, who by the mid-1920s was in Batley, looks to be over on a farm in Cheshire with two of his brothers in this census, working as a farm labourer. They are appropriately living in Irish Man’s Cottage! The men in this family did have a tendency to come over to England in the summer for seasonal farm labouring work, and this appears to be borne out in the 1921 Census. It may also be the case for others normally resident in Ireland but who came over to England seasonally to undertake work on farms. It is worth checking to see if they do feature.

And, as ever, be alert for those half-truths and downright misleading lies which always creep in and can affect your search.

Again it is a case of keeping an open mind – though the pay per view element of this release may curtail the ability to undertake speculative downloads. This is a luxury which may best be reserved for the free access locations at The National Archives (Kew), Manchester Central Library, and The National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth). But you can undertake the prepatory work from home using the free basic searches, short of any image purchase.


6. View the image, not the transcript.
Linked to 3 (above), I would advise the image purchase option is always preferable to buying a transcript, even if it costs slightly more. The transcript may contain multiple errors which, unless you view the image, you will be oblivious to. Whereas if you view the image you can see exactly what the entry should say. And it may include details not referred to in the transcript. And there is always that added frisson of excitement of seeing the actual handwriting and signature of those completing the form.


7. Make sure you click on the Extra Materials.
Your purchase covers more documents than the original image. Don’t focus on this image at the expense of the ‘Extra Materials.’

‘Extra Materials’ available through purchasing the image – Findmypast

In these you will find the cover, which contains the RG15 Series Reference for the original household image, and Piece Number. Though I must admit my preferred method for obtaining the document reference is by downloading and saving the image (see 9, below), simply because the cover may be difficult to read and downloading/saving provides more accuracy by hopefully cutting out any enumerator error. Also be aware it is not a full reference number.

The ‘Front’ document contains that all-important address which is missing from the original household image. For more details about addresses see 8, below.

There are also maps which, besides pinpointing the area linked to the household, also have some useful background information – for example, population numbers, or details of any boundary changes.

The final files in these ‘Extra Materials’ are Plans of the Division. There may be more than one of these. The plans contain Enumeration District information, including boundaries and contents, basically the route the enumerator took. So, for example, for one set of my Hill ancestors, the Enumeration District where they lived comprised of:

Commencing at 1 Richmond Street taking all houses on left hand side to top odd nos. thence all houses in Vera Street, Crescent Street, Back Crescent Street all yards and Back Upton Street and down the left hand side of Upton Street to bottom even nos.

This is all vital information to pinpointing where the Hill family lived. This is particularly important if it is an area is unfamiliar to you, or if the streets have long-since gone. It will enable you to easily identify the area in old OS maps.

Note, once you have purchased an image it, along with the extra materials, are available to you each time you log on to Findmypast. So, if you missed them in your first eager foray into the census, you have not lost the opportunity.


8. The address is not missing when viewing the image.
Whilst it may not be immediately obvious, contrary to what some on social media believe, the address is there. There are two ways of accessing it. The ‘Extra Materials’ document suite includes one entitled ‘Front.’ This has the schedule which includes the address.

The same document can be accessed by clicking on the arrow to the right of the completed household schedule. Do be careful when using this method that you do not click too far as this will take you to the next household schedule and the option to buy it.

Clicking this arrow should take you to the address image – Findmypast

9. Download the images to save, including that all-important document reference.
Always save the document images to ensure you always have access to them. The best way of doing this, and getting the clearest image, is by using the ‘download record’ facility. When saving this way the RG15 document reference and piece number is included in the file title. It is not the full reference number, but it is a start.

You can also get the document reference from the cover, which is in the extra materials.

It is good practice to note the document reference, and including it as part of the file title is ideal.


10. Take note of the employment information.
The single most exciting information section in this census from my point of view is that on employment. Not only is there the occupation title, but for those working for an employer the name of that employer is provided, along with the place of work. This is fertile ground for further research to expand your knowledge of not only what your ancestor’s occupation was, but also where they worked, and investigation as to what business records survive – including any relating to employees.

For example, my husband’s 14-year-old grandma is described as a pottery paintress at Keeling and Co. Ltd, Dalehall, Staffs. I can now find out more about this pottery works.

My nana was a 16-year-old cloth weaver at J., T. & J. Taylor’s woollen manufacturers. West Yorkshire Archive Services has some company records which may be worth checking.

A whole series of my male ancestors worked in the coal mining industry. This census was taken during the coal miners’ strike. My ancestors do give their coal mining employment details, with the ominous words “Out of Work”. The names of their employers, and the specific coal mines, means I can now look at local papers to find out about the effect of industrial action generally locally, as well as how it affected specific coal mines. For me these include confirmation that my great grandfather did indeed work at Soothill Wood Colliery, Batley.


For my previous 1921 Census post, which looks at its background, includes some tips, has things to look out for, discusses why it is so important, & explains why I’m looking forward to it, click here.

Why Family Historians are Excited About the 1921 Census Release

Forget the New Year countdown and the return of Big Ben’s bongs this year. Instead, like many other family historians, I’m counting the days down to 6 January 2022, the day which marks 1921 census release day. Its family clues and secrets have been hidden for over 100 years. But this is the day when they will finally be revealed.

But why are family and local historians so excited? What is its background? Why is it so important for family and local history? How can you access it?

I’ll try to answer those questions in this post.


Background:
This was the census conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Great War, the Spanish flu pandemic and the introduction of voting rights for some women. It was a time of turmoil, upheaval and change.

The census was eventually taken on 19 June 1921, delayed for two months from its originally planned date of 24 April 1921, because of the state of emergency declared as a result of the coal miners’ strike.

Although care was taken to avoid holidays in the big industrial towns of the north, do be aware of the possibility the delay to the summer months may mean your family could be away from their expected residence.


What Information Will the Census Contain?

This census had the usual familiar mix of questions, but with some crucial omissions and additions from the 1911 Census. Questions included:

  • Name and Surname;
  • Relationship to the Head of Household;
  • Age – in years and (in a difference to previous censuses) completed months, with those under one month noted as such;
  • Sex;
  • Marriage or Orphanhood – For those 15 and over this means single, married, widowed or if the marriage has been dissolved. For children under under 15 this includes details about which parents are living/dead;
  • Birthplace and Nationality;
  • Personal Occupation (including attending school), Employment and Place of Work;
  • Married Men, Widowers and Widows also complete details about the number and ages of all living children and step children under 16 years of age, whether residing in the household or elsewhere.

The enumerator who collected the form was also responsible for recording the number of “living rooms” at the premises. And, for the first time, individuals in a household could also make separate confidential returns.

I’m disappointed that the so-called fertility question is missing from this census, with no information given about the number of completed years of marriage and the total number of children born within it, split between still living and dead. There question around blindness, deafness and dumbness has also gone.

But there are some big compensating questions. For example the changes to the questions around work will add a new family history component. This was introduced to find out about the travelling involved to get to a place of employment. The question around dissolved marriages is an interesting commentary about the recognition of increased availability of divorce. I am interested to see if any of my family is amongst the 16,682 people who declared themselves divorced on the returns. And, in light of the aftermath of the Great War and influenza pandemic, the recording of information for under 15s about whether both parents were alive or if either or both parents had died is a sad snapshot on the fragility of life.

If you want to familiarise yourself with the 1921 Census household form for England in advance of 6 January, you can download a copy here, courtesy of the ONS (Office for National Statistics) website.1


Why the Excitement with this Census Release?
All new major record releases are exciting. But for many the 1921 Census will be particularly special. From the poignant moment of seeing family members in a census for the first or last time, to finding out the impact the War had on family and community structures; to discovering the employment and possibly employers of their ancestors in this period of industrial strife, to where they were – and who they were with – on census night. Then there’s societal changes at the start of the Roaring Twenties, like the increase of divorce, and changes in the work of women from previous censuses. And not forgetting the inevitable disentangling of truth from mistakes and pure fiction in the entries of our ancestors – no, they were not always honest on official documents!

On the more humorous side, will there be any quirky, or protest, entries this time? And what will be the most unusual or unexpected occupation or name?

All this information, even these errors, half-truths and lies, will shed new light on the lives and characters of our ancestors – the type of information we family historians are constantly seeking.

Crucially, it is an excitement not to be repeated for another 30 years, because the next census release will not be until 2051, with the 1951 Census.

For many, this will be the last chance to experience the anticipation and thrill surrounding a census release. The highs of finding that missing piece of the family history puzzle, to simply finding out a little more about the lives of your ancestors. To the lows of will the site crash with the volume of hits?


My Census Plans
I have spent the Christmas period drawing up my family history census wish list.

I’m looking forward to the release on a personal family history level to find if my grandpa had made the move from Ireland to England at this point. If so, where was he living? And was he with family who had already made the move?

I also want to discover what various direct line ancestors and their families were doing. In particular, only three months before this census, my great grandfather died aged only 42. I want to see if there is any evidence of impact on his family. For example, were they still in the same home? Was the family still all together? Did my great grandmother have an occupation listed?

Also, being from a long line of coal mining ancestors, I want to see how many were still involved in the industry, especially given the census backdrop of a coal miners’ strike.

I have a wider interest in this census too, for my St Mary’s Batley One-Place Study. This focuses on the parish particularly in World War One, looking at not only those who served and died, but those who returned home, and the parish as a whole. I’m interested in seeing the impact both the war and the flu pandemic had on the parish population and family structures, with a particular interest in those families who had suffered war casualties. I’m also interested in any further Irish migration to the parish between 1911 and 1921. And I want to build up a bigger picture about employment in the parish. Batley was a significant textile town with the industry employing both men and women. The other major industry for the area was coal. Given this was the period of the coal miners’ strike, I want to see what impact this had on the census employment returns for the parishioners. Also, for returning military, was there a difference between their 1911 and 1921 employment? This, though, because of the scale, may be a longer-term plan based on a visit to one of the free access sites.


How Can I View the 1921 Census?
Now for the all-important administrative details about census access.

1. Who does this Census release cover?
• This release covers 38 million people in England and Wales. Technically the full scope of it is England & Wales, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Armed Forces at sea or overseas (including in the nascent Irish Free State).
2. When can you access it?
• The launch date is 00.01 GMT on 6 January 2022.
3. Where can you access it?
• Online it will be available via commercial genealogy dataset provider Findmypast. They won the National Archives digitisation contract and have exclusivity for the 1921 census for up to three years. This will be the only online provider access during this period.
• In-person access of the digital images is available at The National Archives, Kew. The census will also be available via Findmypast at the Manchester Central Library, and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
• If you are still unsure, professional genealogists (including me) are undertaking census lookups. This may prove more efficient, accurate, cost-effective and ultimately less stressful.
4. How much does it cost?
• You will be able to search the indexes on Findmypast for free. But a pay-per-view system will operate to actually view the transcripts and images. It costs £2.50 for every record transcript, and £3.50 for every original record image.
• If you are a 12-month Pro subscriber there is a 10% discount.
• Whether a transcription or image, purchasing the record of one individual will allow you to view the entire household’s census return in that purchased format. Unless that person was in an institution.
5. Can you access the 1921 Census for free?
• Yes. It will be available to view digitally at The National Archives at Kew. It is also available to view free via Findmypast at Manchester Central Library and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
6. Which countries does the release cover?
• The release applies to England and Wales.
• Indexed images of the 1921 Scottish Census will be released on http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk and in the Scotlands People Centre, Edinburgh, in the latter half of 2022.
• The 1921 Census was not taken in Ireland due to the Irish War of Independence. Censuses in Ireland and Northern Ireland were conducted in 1926.

In addition, Findmypast has some useful information too https://www.findmypast.co.uk/1921-census

Update:
If you’re planning on going to Manchester Central Library to access the 1921 Census, the image below (posted on the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society Facebook page) gives some important information. It’s essential pre-visit planning reading.


I’ll end this post with some snippets from Yorkshire to get you in the census mood.


The Sheffield Independent and Sheffield Daily Telegraph newspapers for 21 June 1921, reported on the case of three census wanderers. On census night, Sheffield police were tasked with searching highways and by-ways to round up those living outside. The three men, brought before the magistrates on 20 June and charged with lodging out, or wandering abroad without visible means of subsistence, included George H Jerram, of no fixed abode. He was found at 12.30am asleep in one of the Tinsley Park coke ovens with only 5d in his possession. He could not afford any lodgings.

Jerram remarked that “he was lodging out in France from August, 1914, to April, 1920,” and since coming out of the Army had only worked five weeks.”2

The Chairman discharged him, giving him the opportunity to fill out his census form.

I wonder if he will appear?


The Yorkshire Post of 21 June 1921 had a reporter going round an industrial quarter of Leeds with a census enumerator. Someone asked: “We have not put the dog on the paper. Will that be all right?

I wonder if pets will feature though, something I wrote about in an earlier census piece. Please click here if you want to read this, and the other quirky entries which have appeared in previous censuses.


However, a dismal story of unemployment and overcrowding also emerged in this Yorkshire Post piece.

  • For example, an Irish woman and her brother (both single), their brother, sister-in-law, and seven children aged 3 to 19, living in four rooms, Three of the adults were out of work;
  • A coal-hawker and a son assisting him, both out of work, two errand boy sons out of work, and five children attending school, with only one son (aged 20) working;
  • An out-of-work boot riveter, his wife and six children, ranging from 23 years old downwards, living in three rooms.

Occupants were described as being terribly afraid they would be turned out of their squalid dwellings because of overcrowding. Authority could, and did, strike fear.

In Grimsby, forms revealed in one instance five families living in four rooms; in another seven families were in one house, with a further house consisting of eight families.


The Hull Daily Mail of 21 June 1921 reported on a census conundrum regarding a baby born after midnight but before 1am (British Summer Time), the equivalent of 11pm and midnight Greenwich mean time. Was the baby born too late for the census? No definite pronouncement was made, but the assumption was the system in operation at the time, British Summer Time, would govern such questions.

I wonder if anyone does have an example of a child recorded in this census who should technically not be?


And in an example of a potential missing entry, a correspondent’s letter appeared in the Halifax Daily Courier and Guardian of 25 June 1921. Essentially, a son completed the household form for his father (the head), himself, his sister, and his sister’s three children (two grandsons and a grand daughter of the household head). They all slept in the house on census night. However, when the enumerator collected the form, he said the grandchildren should not be recorded and crossed them out. The correspondent was concerned they would not now be counted.

Again, some of us may therefore have difficulty in finding people we know should be there. It may simply be down to a mis-transcription, or not adopting the correct research strategies. But it could also really be down to an omission, or deliberate dissembling to disguise identity. This is an example where a professional researcher may be able to help.


So get ready for 6 January, and the big day in the family history world. I hope you find what you’re looking for.


Footnotes:
1. For Wales and Monmouthshire, there was an extra question for each person (over three years) on whether they spoke English and Welsh, English only or Welsh only; and for Scotland (when that is released) watch out for the extra questions about whether each person (over three years) spoke Gaelic only and also whether they were entitled to benefits under the National Insurance (Health) Acts;
2. Sheffield Independent, 21 June 1921;

“Alas Too Idle Yet Writing a Book” – Census Gems

If you think reading the census is dull, think again. It can reveal some unexpected gems. I thought I’d share a few I’ve viewed over the years – ones I’ve found, and some located by others. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

As March is designated Women’s History Month I’m starting out with some 1911 census entries. The suffrage movement advocated boycotting this census. Some women deliberately absented themselves on census night, 2 April. Other census forms have information and notations which indicate they are clearly linked to people actively involved, or sympathising, with the suffrage movement.

Suffragist, and a founder member of the Women’s Freedom League, Dr Octavia Lewin of 25 Wimpole Street, Marylebone wrote ‘No vote. No census. I absolutely refuse to give any information’. She does then go on to list her impressive array of qualifications, ending with ‘assistant physician, London Homeopathic Hospital’. That, though, was the limit of the household information she supplied, with the Registrar annotating the form to the effect that the rest of information was estimated. [1]

Over in Ingatestone, Essex, Dorothea Rock, of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), was similarly forthright with her protest. She wrote:

I, Dorothea Rock, in the absence of the male occupier, refuse to fill up this Census paper as, in the eyes of the Law, women do not count, neither shall they be counted. [2]

Louisa Garrett Anderson, daughter of Elizabeth, a qualified surgeon and another prominent WSPU member, withheld any household information for her Harley Street home. Yet again the details, including for four anonymous people, were estimated. [3]

Other ‘No vote. No census’ protestors included Dorothy Bowker (WSPU). Lodging at Marylebone she wrote across her return:

I am Dumb politically. Blind to the census. Deaf to enumerators. Being classed with criminals lunatics and paupers I prefer to give no further particulars. [4]

The enumerator and registrar added further comments to the effect that Dorothy had returned temporarily to her lodgings to remove her luggage, then left.

Also in Marylebone, the occupational entry for Georgiana Alexandra Mott, a pioneer of education for women, simply read ‘Desires a parliamentary Vote’ [5]. This sentiment was shared by another Marylebone resident, Ann Halliburton, who wrote ‘I desire the vote’. [6]

Haworth Shop Window – Photo by Jane Roberts

But the protest extended beyond Marylebone. The occupation given by 41-year-old married woman Ada Twells of South Kyme, Lincolnshire was ‘At present agitating for votes for Women’ [7]. The occupation of fish merchants’ wife Clara Annie Braithwaite of Cleethorpes was ‘Suffragette’ [8]. Clara Callander, 60, living at Wavertree went one further. Besides the occupation of suffragette, she gave her employer as UWSPU and under the infirmity column she put ‘disability to vote’ [9]. In similar vein Christine S Bremner, a visitor at the Morgan-Browne household in Wimbledon, refused to giver her age or birthplace, but gave her occupation as ‘Suffragette’ and infirmity ‘unenfranchised’ [10].

Another suffragette with an infirmity was 23-year-old Marion Louise Kitchin, daughter of Doncaster-born veterinary surgeon James Edward Kitchin. The family lived at Woodford Green in 1911, and this is a information-packed return. His wife Elizabeth’s occupation is ‘Lady’. His 16-year-old son, William Norman, is a ‘gentleman at large’. Marion is a suffragette ‘looking for a job’, with ‘absent mindedness’ recorded as her infirmity. Sister Kathleen is afflicted with ‘unpunctuality’. Son Geoffrey was ‘argumentative’, I guess that’s teenagers for you. But not quite the infirmity information being sought! [11]

Then there’s the Folkestone household of Mrs Smart. She, and three anonymous occupants, were listed as suffragettes. There’s a supplementary note that Mrs Smart ‘refused to fill up a schedule and the others refused information for the reason that they state women have no vote’ [12].

Other indications of suffrage sympathies included the use of slave as an occupation. Examples here include 52-year-old widow Lucy Gilbert of Bermondsey [13]. Variations on this theme included ‘Domestic Slave’, which was used amongst others by 48-year-old married woman Elizabeth Bond of Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire [14]. ‘Family Slave’ also pops up, including Eleanor Snowden (35), a married woman from Harewood near Leeds [15].

As seen from the above, women campaigning for the vote deliberately withheld their names. But the censuses are full of unknown men and women, occasionally with extra information such as Italian man, German woman. One example which Jane Hough found in the 1901 census at Little Weldon, Northamptonshire, listed Poacher 1, 2 and 3, with an indication that the particulars could not be ascertained [16].

My favourite personal find though is from the 1871 census at Kirthwaite, Dent, where included in the Thompson household is a man ‘supposed out of work’ on the tramp. If you have a 40-year-old Stockport-born ancestor you can’t trace in this census, could it be this individual, described as ‘a man with a big nose’? [17].

Man With a Big Nose – Source Pixabay

Occupations provide a rich seam of hilarity to mine. How about William Neale in Shottesbrook, Berkshire whose occupation, as described in 1881, was ‘None (to idle)’ [18]? And perhaps an indication in 1851 Barnstone, Nottinghamshire, of the esteem in which Mary Carlisle held her daughter-in-law Maria: ‘too idle for anything’ [19]. Skip forward to 1881, where George Huyton, a visitor to Parr, St Helens, was described as ‘too lazy to work’ [20].

But the prize for idleness must surely go to Matilda Sharpe, ‘81 tomorrow’. The sister of the head of a household in Islington, in 1911 she completed the form signing herself off as ‘Deputy Head’. Something many an under-valued author can appreciate, she described her occupation as ‘Alas too Idle yet writing a Book’. Then she duly put her creative skills to good use, ensuring an enduring written legacy. She described the Rev. Rose as having his ‘Heart in his Work. Alas Over-Worked’. His wife, Mrs Rose, was a ‘lovely Self Devoting Wife’. Caroline Chipperfield earned high praise as a ‘Cook – & a very Nice One’. Whilst Alice Percy had similar plaudits, being a ‘House Maid – all we could Wish’ [21].

In particular, some of the census entries relating to children are priceless. As you read them you can sympathise with the mixed emotions of desperation, frustration, love and humour felt by their parents.

The 1851 census entry for Edith, under two months, the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Higgin in Liverpoool read ‘(Occupation) Suckling & Sleeping’ [22].

In the same census, over in Bradford, Hannah, the four-month-old daughter of Robert and Hannah Kennedy was ‘constantly crying at home’ [23].

Another early example appeared in the 1881 census when West Derby (near Liverpool) barrister George Zavier Segar described his wife’s occupation as ‘Looking after me and the Family’. His three-year-old daughter Mary G was occupied ‘Eating Sleeping Talking’; whilst her one-year-old brother Robert S included the additional string to his bow of ‘getting into mischief’ [24].

Across in Chadderton, in the same census, James Lever’s infirmity was being ‘without money’. Perhaps his two-year-old daughter Mary’s occupation caused this financial hardship, because her occupation is described as ‘crying for halfpennys’ [25].

Whilst in 1881 Atherstone, Adelaide Forbes, two-year-old daughter of Stuart Forbes was ‘Eating, Drinking, Sleeping etc’. He recognised his wife Isabel’s role of ‘Keeping House & nursing children’. And sister-in-law Grace Churchill was worthily described as ‘Feeding the Hungry & Clothing the Naked’ [26].

Crying Child – Darwin: The expression of the emotions in man and animals – Wellcome Library. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) – https://wellcomecollection.org/works/wqfqzcmg

There are scores of 1911 census examples featuring children. I’ve listed some of these below:

  • Elsie Irene Axtell, age nine months, the daughter of Archibald and Ada Axtell from Bristol was described as ‘Eating Drinking Sleeping’ [27].
  • Florence Brown, nine months, of Limehouse, London, daughter of Frederick and Florence was occupied ‘Crying’, with the indication that she undertook this job ‘at home’. The family also included ‘Perfect’ for all members in the Infirmity column [28].
  • The youngest two members of the Herrington family in West Rounton, North Yorkshire, had occupations befitting their ages. Alfred, three, was occupied ‘Crying Eating & Sleeping’; and sister Mary, under one month, worked at ‘Crying Sucking & Sleeping’ [29].
  • Across in Scarborough, Robert and Elizabeth Knaggs wrote of their three-year-old daughter, Marjorie, ‘Play mostly Crying occasionally’ [30].
  • Edna Lee, age three, living with her grandparents and parents in Bradford was described as ‘Eating Drinking Playing’ with ‘Sleeping’ added later in brackets [31]. Was this by an enumerator with a sense of humour?
  • The occupation of Stanley William Pawley, one-year-old son of William and Flora Pawley of Fakenham was occupied ‘Crying & Breaking Feeding Bottles’ [32].
  • Harold Urquhart Roberts, age one, living at Farnborough was ‘Eating Drinking & Shouting’ in the ‘Baby’ industry or service [33].
  • In Willesden, Gerald Stollery, three, was engaged in ‘mostly destroying toys’, whereas sister Eileen, one, had the sole job of ‘crying’ [34].

It is, however, sobering to consider not all these children survived to adulthood. But they live on, and stand out, through their wonderful census descriptions.

I’ll end the example of children in the censuses section with an 1871 entry. This is yet another classic, on a par with idle book-writer Matilda Sharpe who inspired this post. This one is for the Parsons family living in Basford, Nottinghamshire. Susannah Parsons, wife of William, was described as ‘Her husband’s devoted nurse’; granddaughter Florence, nine, whose condition was ‘Tall & thin’ rather than single was ‘a student of rudimentary accomplish[men]t’. Sussannnah H, eight, was ‘a still younger student of above’; grandson William, one, ‘very fat’, had his rank, profession or occupation column proudly annotated ‘His rank is most upright for he can walk and is very independent’; six-year-old granddaughter Emily G, ‘very thin’, was engaged in ‘innocent mischief’; and not forgetting Caroline Jones, a ‘most excellent serv[an]t as nurse’ [35].

The elderly could also have unusual occupational annotations. Samantha Willis highlighted a 1911 entry from Hastings linked to her family. Household head Arthur Edward Callis, ‘Waiter. Boots. Chamber Maid. God knows what’ wrote of his 90-year-old mother-in-law Jane Sargent ‘Does nothing sleeps’ [36]. Maybe this is simply an accurate reflection of the impact of advanced years, or ill health, rather than any form of sarcasm.

And do watch out for other unsolicited snippets of information. For example in Bognor in 1911 George Henry Harrington, 37, has no work. The explanation is given: ‘Had neurasthenia several years now. Because very deaf at 34…’ [37].

There’s also a 26-year-old unmarried naval officer, Thomas Wallace Young, a visitor in 1911 Harting, Sussex. The dashing image is, well, dashed when his afflictions are listed: bald and toothless [38].

And John Underwood of Hastings wasn’t wrong in describing his affliction as ‘bad temper’ in 1911. He was sufficiently annoyed to identify all his family’s individual afflictions starting with his wife, occupied in cooking and washing, but the possessor of a ‘long tongue’. His children were quarrelsome, stubborn, greedy, vain and noisy [39].

Finally Britain is often labelled a nation of animal lovers. We often think of our pets as family members. And thankfully some census entries supporting this have sneaked through too.

In 1911 Heanor, church worker Frances Catherine Stone, 46, listed her two other household members: Timothy the Cat, age seven; and Jack the Dog, eight [40].

A dog smoking a pipe, with ‘Pears’ inscribed on his collar. Chromolithograph after E. Landseer (1907) – Wellcome Library – https://wellcomecollection.org/works/acw6wkuv

Meanwhile, in Doncaster that year, the Cooke household hosted a rather unusual boarder. Single, age one, his name was Jim the Cat. And naturally enough his occupation was ‘mouse catcher’ [41].

Cheshire Cat, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865-1866) drawn by John Tenniel (1820-1914) – Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain image

And the 1911 census Rigby household in Birkenhead have a tom cat named Tobit C[r]ackitt. His age is obscured (the enumerator is unamused by the family’s sense of humour), but you can still read that he’s married with 16 children, all living. He works as a ‘Mouse Catcher Soloist Thief’. Nationality is ‘Cheshire Cat’ and he does sadly have an infirmity: He is speechless. William Rigby, the household head, perhaps thinks too much information is being sought and writes:

All the Above Mentioned Have Breakfast Dinner Tea & Supper. Eat Standard Bread Drink Sterilized milk. Sleep with the Windows open. Wash our feet once a week. “Etc” God Save the King. R.S.V.P. Rest in Peace [42].

The enumerator has crossed this piece of insubordination out too.

But I’ll leave journalist James Ange Little with the last word though. It could well be that he too was getting a dig in at the perceived intrusiveness of the census questions, but his final entry is pure census gold. He wrote:

Incidentally, we have an Airedale Terrier. I do not know whether particulars are required, but in case you want them here they are….

He then went on to give details for Keighley-born Roger, age five. Information generally about his marriage were unknown, other than his children probably numbered something over 100. He worked as a watchdog on his own account. The industry/service was ‘looking after house’ and this was undertaken ‘at home & outside’ [43].

As you can see from the above, most examples are from the 1911 census simply because of the survival of the original householder schedules, as opposed to the sanitised enumerator books from the earlier censuses. But, as I’ve identified, there are stray examples which slipped through from earlier censuses too.

If you can add to the list of quirky England and Wales census examples do feel free to add a comment, or email me. If you could provide the census reference too, that would be appreciated. I’ll update this post to reflect any received.

Update 1 – 10 March 2020: After Siblings and Niblings informed me in the comments section about a relationship status of paramour in the 1911 census, I investigated further. And yes, there are lots of other examples. One I located in 1891 Stepney had a household head, Arthur Newstead, a 24-year-old widower. The household also included Charlotte Linch (married) whose relationship status was ‘paramour’. Not only that, there was a five-year-old girl, ‘paramour’s child’; a baby whose relationship was ‘putative daughter’ and a 27-year-old man whose connection to the head was ‘paramour’s brother’ [44].

And I am still seeking out the quirky. One particularly astonishing one is from Chesterfield in 1851. Thomas Cooke, a 61-year-old married man is the head of the household. Also listed is his wife, Jane, age 44. There are four other members. These comprise Harriett Cooke, 30-year-old unmarried niece, described in the occupation column as ‘concubine of her uncle!’ But that’s not all. There are three children ranging from six years old to two months and in the occupation column they are described thus:

Son of do. [concubine]……………)
Dau[ghte]r of do. [concubine]..) by her uncle!!!
Son of do. [concubine]……………) [45]

And yes, the exclamation marks were inserted by a shocked enumerator. Perhaps it equated to an exclamation for Harriett and each of her three children?

References:

  • [1] 1911 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG14/525
  • [2] Ibid, Reference RG14/10034
  • [3] Ibid, Reference RG14/518
  • [4] Ibid, Reference RG14/548
  • [5] Ibid, Reference RG14/551
  • [6] Ibid
  • [7] Ibid, Reference RG14/19604
  • [8] Ibid, Reference RG14/19987
  • [9] Ibid, Reference RG14/22674
  • [10] Ibid, Reference RG14/3463
  • [11] Ibid, Reference RG14/9755
  • [12] Ibid, Reference RG14/4634
  • [13] Ibid, Reference RG14/1898
  • [14] Ibid, Reference RG14/9081
  • [15] Ibid, Reference RG14/25953
  • [16] 1901 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG13/1450/115/26
  • [17] 1871 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG10/4250/47/5
  • [18] 1881 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG11/1315/65/7
  • [19] 1851 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference HO107/2139/28516
  • [20] 1881 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG11/3738/75/51
  • [21] 1911 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG14/984
  • [22] 1851 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference HO107/2182/323/26
  • [23] Ibid, Reference HO107/2307/72/18
  • [24] 1881 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG11/3713/113/4
  • [25] Ibid, Reference RG11/4085/52/14
  • [26] Ibid, Reference RG11/3058/78/19
  • [27] 1911 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG14/14919
  • [28] Ibid, Reference RG14/1555
  • [29] Ibid, Reference RG14/29357
  • [30] Ibid, Reference RG14/28955
  • [31] Ibid, Reference RG14/26788
  • [32] Ibid, Reference RG14/11555
  • [33] Ibid, Reference RG14/6251
  • [34] Ibid, Reference RG14/7004
  • [35] 1871 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG10/3488/14/22
  • [36] 1911 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG14/4748
  • [37] Ibid, Reference RG14/5376
  • [38] Ibid, Reference RG14/5440
  • [39] Ibid, Reference RG14/4741
  • [40] Ibid, Reference RG14/20398
  • [41] Ibid, Reference RG14/28198
  • [42] Ibid, Reference RG14/21991
  • [43] Ibid, Reference RG14/2457
  • [44] 1891 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference RG12/292/153/27
  • [45] 1851 Census of England and Wales, TNA Reference, TNA Reference HO107/2147/273/16

From Gildersome to Gorton (Other Locations Available): An Analysis of the Aveyard Families in the 1851 Census

It might not be everyone’s idea of a pleasant way to while away the hours, but I’ve had tremendous fun analysing the various Aveyard families in the 1851 census of England and Wales. I will eventually get onto constructing family trees as I link more building blocks of information. But for now I concentrated on focusing on the Aveyards as a group looking at their ages, birth and address locations, occupations and even Christian names.

I’ve loved playing with various chart formats to depict the information. Perhaps I really do need to get out more! However I hope those with Aveyard ancestry connections will enjoy seeing the bigger picture and working out where their particular branch fits. And at the outset I should caution this is a work in progress – I do envisage revisions to the data as I grow more familiar with the Aveyards!

I undertook 1851 census surname searches using both Ancestry and Findmypast, genealogical dataset provides, to try to minimise any omissions through transcription errors. This is a big risk if relying on one genealogical data provider. These searches included both the Aveyard surname and an infrequently used alternative spelling of Haveyard. For ease I will use Aveyard generally, unless I’m specifically referring to an individual who uses the Haveyard spelling.

I then checked the image, again to minimise any transcription errors. If the image proved problematical with Findmypast I checked the Ancestry image and vice versa.

Going through each entry personally in this way also gave me a far better ‘feel‘ for the Aveyard families. Yes, it’s time consuming. But I think it’s worth it.

In total there were 211 occurrences of the Aveyard surname, split between 105 males and 105 females. One entry, for a Gorton (Lancashire) Aveyard, was so badly damaged it was impossible to determine age, relationship or gender. Therefore any analysis of these specific factors (unless indicated) is based on an overall Aveyard total of 210.

The youngest Aveyard, Ellen (of Gildersome), was newborn. The eldest one, Benjamin (born in Gorton and living in Mancester), was 75.  There were only six Aveyards in their 70’s, so less than three per cent. The average age, based on the 210 entries with legible ages, was 24.72.

The marital status of the Aveyards is depicted in Chart 1, below.

Chart 1:

45 Aveyards were heads of the household. The precise split of relationship to the head of household of the 211 Aveyards is given in Chart 2, below.

Chart 2:

I next looked at Christian names. William (17 occurrences), George (16) and Thomas/Tom (11) were the top three male names. For females bearing the Aveyard name, including those by virtue of marriage, Mary (16) and Sarah (13) were those in double digits. The full breakdown of male names is in Chart 3, and females in Chart 4.

Chart 3:

Chart 4:

Next I looked at birth and address counties and, within these counties, the precise address and birth location. For part of this piece of analysis I excluded married and widowed females, on the basis these were highly unlikely to be born as an Aveyard. The results were startling. There is an overwhelming northern England geographical concentration of Aveyards, with Yorkshire being the main location.

Chart 5 shows the birth county of all Aveyard surname bearers – it shows 83.41 per cent of all Aveyards in the 1851 census were Yorkshire-born; 10.90 per cent were born in Lancashire; and 3.31 were Cheshire-born. Five others were born in either Durham, Lincolnshire or Middlesex.

Chart 5:

Chart 6 (below) excludes married and widowed females (and the unknown gender entry). This leaves 169 male or unmarried female Aveyards. Removing this cohort further narrows down the counties to only four. The Yorkshire concentration increases, with 86.39 per cent born in this county. Of the others 10.05 per cent are Lancashire-born, 2.36 Cheshire and 1.18 per cent Middlesex

Chart 6:

When looking at the address counties of the Aveyards we are down to the triumvirate of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire as depicted in Charts 7 and 8.

Chart 7:

Chart 8:

My final couple of charts relating to birth and address locations of Aveyards once more excludes married and widowed females and the one Aveyard of unknown gender, so again is based on 169 people.

Chart 9 focusing on birthplace shows 15.38 per cent are born in Gildersome and 18.34 per cent in West Ardsley, both in Yorkshire. West Ardsley also covers Lee Fair and Woodchurch, so including the two who give these birthplace locations increases the West Ardsley percentage to 19.52. One gives a birthplace of Ardsley. As this could equally be East Ardsley I have not included it in the West Ardsley calculations.

Chart 9:

Many of the other Yorkshire birthplaces are within close proximity to West Ardsley. The closest 22 are depicted in the map below, with West Ardsley at (1).

Map of Yorkshire Birthplaces near to West Ardsley

KEY: 1 = West Ardsley; 2 = Gildersome; 3 = Wakefield; 4 = Alverthorpe; 5 = East Ardsley; 6 = Liversedge; 7 = Gomersal; 8 = Leeds; 9 = Belle Isle (Bellisle); 10 = Hunslet; 11 = Adwalton; 12 = Birstall; 13 = Dewsbury; 14 = Holbeck; 15 = Littletown; 16 = Morley; 17 = Rothwell; 18 = Crofton; 19 = Drighlington; 20 = Kirkstall; 21 = Middleton (Leeds); 22 = Soothill; 23 = Stanley.

As the crow flies looking at points north, south, east and west to West Ardsley: Kirkstall is 11.42 miles; Crofton is 11.59 miles; Liversedge is 8.81; and to Rothwell is 7.72 miles.

In Lancashire Gorton is the most popular birthplace, with 11 Aveyards (6.5 per cent) giving this as their birth location. It is the fourth most popular behind Yorkshire’s West Ardsley, Gildersome and Wakefield.

Chart 10 depicts addresses. 49 (28.99 per cent) have a Gildersome address. In comparison only five live in West Ardsley, showing a migration away from what was their largest birth location.

Chart 10:

The corresponding map showing the closet locations to top address spot Gildersome (1) are depicted on the map below.

Map of Yorkshire Settlement Places Closest to Gildersome

KEY: 1 = Gildersome; 2 = Batley; 3 = Stanley cum Wrenthorpe; 4 = Liversedge; 5 = Middleton (Leeds); 6 = Birstall; 7 = Gomersal; 8 = West Ardsley; 9 = Alverthorpe with Thornes; 10 = Hunslet; 11 = Leeds; 12 = Adwalton; 13 = Wakefield; 14 = Beeston; 15 = Morley; 16 = Soothill.

My final piece of analysis depicted in the bar charts at Charts 11 to 13 looks at occupations of males and females aged eight and upwards, and all children up to and including 16 years of age.

The stand-out occupation of the male Aveyards is coal miner with 21 giving this as an occupation. A further 11 had coal-related occupations, including one engine tenter working in a colliery. In other words 38.55 per cent of all male Aveyards age eight and upwards were employed in the coal industry. All of these boys and men lived in Yorkshire, 19 of them in Gildersome. There were only 24 males age eight and upwards in a Gildersome. Over in Lancashire the nine Aveyards in this age bracket had no real common occupational grouping: two errand boys, a hatter, a retired hatter plus a leather cutter, french polisher, herald knitter, mechanic and annuitant. In Cheshire there was a hat maker and mechanic. All three of those with a hat making link were Gorton-born.

Chart 11:

Looking at females in the age eight and above category 42, equivalent to 51.85 per cent, had no occupation listed. Of the others many had domestic and service work and over 18.5 per cent had a cloth manufacturing role.

Chart 12:

The final chart (Chart 13) looks at eight to 16-year-olds. Of the 86 in this age group:

  • 35 had no details given:
  • 21 were at school;
  • a further three were described as splitting their time between mill and school. These were the only eight and nine-year-olds described as having a job;
  • in addition to these three split-timers, a further eight were in the cloth industry; and
  • seven (including two ten-year-olds0 worked in the coal mining industry.

Chart 13:

So where do my direct-line Aveyards fit in? In 1851 my 4x Great Grandparents George and Hannah Aveyard were alive as were my 3x Great Grandparents Peter and Caroline Aveyard (married in 1846). Caroline was born in Gildersome, the others in West Ardsley. George (71) was a labourer and Peter (25) a coal miner. I do know from other records George had been a coal miner When younger. Neither wife had a listed occupation. George and Hannah (63) lived in Gildersome and Peter and Caroline in Adwalton. Note as married women neither Hannah (63) or Caroline (24) appear in the birthplace or settlement place tables. Based on this I’d say they were typical of the Aveyards as a whole.

I did wonder about publishing this post as I may subsequently identify some Aveyards overlooked in my first sweep of the 1851 census. For instance I have a feeling at least one Yorkshire branch of the family may have used the name Halfyard in the census. This may add around 20+ more names. I reckon there are five in Lancashire and around seven in Cheshire. All this needs verifying. Also the ages given may subsequently prove incorrect when I eventually start cross-matching with civil registration and parish register information. In the end I decided to go for it. I can always update this research if I do discover other Aveyards. And as for the age details, I will for the purposes of census analysis stick with what they gave. So, as I said earlier, view this as a work in progress and watch this space for further updates.

Sources:

Shropshire, Staffordshire, Shrouds and Shoes – Part 1

This is, I hope, going to be an on-going record of my progress in researching a family tree from scratch. This recurring section of my blog will record my research highs, lows, successes and failures, brick walls and hopefully their demolition. I have no set timetable to complete this, so there may be gaps of several weeks between updates. But finally I aim to piece together the history of my husband’s family and write some individual stories. Part 1 describes the preliminary phase of my research.

This particular project is inspired by my mother-in-law. A few weeks ago she announced she had a family bible, complete with a record of a couple’s marriage and the births and deaths of their children.  There was also a series of non-conformist quarterly meeting cards. She was unclear exactly how they connected to her and  so she loaned me the impressively weighty Victorian tome to see if I could discover more.  Within days she added to this treasure, with the discovery of a totally unrelated bundle of documents containing assorted certificates, an apprentice indenture, baptism and burial documentation, and a will linking to various branches of her maternal and paternal line along with some others connected to my now deceased father-in-law’s family.

19th century family bible

19th century family bible

So a wealth of documents to get me started,  far more than other families I have researched.  I feel a bit like a kid in a sweet-shop – so many choices. But I am focussing on one branch at a time rather than adopting a scattergun approach. And I am being disciplined in recording my information sources, as well as any searches (both succesful and unsuccesful), far more so than when I started our researching my family tree. Hopefully this will save time as I progress.

With this in mind my first line of research is my mother-in-law’s paternal line, starting with her father William John Haynes. The reason for starting here is that his is the most complete set of documents in the parcel of papers, with his birth, marriage and death certificates along with various other papers chronicling the key stages of his life. The bible does not relate to this branch of the family.

William Haynes’ birth certificate states that he was born on 27 February 1904 at Elford Hill, Eccleshall, Staffordshire. He was the son of master wheelwright, Joseph Thomas Haynes and his wife Maria (neé Yates).   By the time of William’s marriage to Ada Eardley on 15 September 1929, William’s father was described as  a funeral undertaker. This information was a catalyst for a rather unusual memory for my mother-in-law. She recalled staying at her grandfather’s house and sleeping in a bedroom full of shrouds! According to GRO indexes he died in 1958, in his early 90’s.

A preliminary search revealed that J Haynes undertakers still exists at Eccleshall, with the website providing a brief resumé of the buisness.[1] So in my later research I intend exploring the life and business of Joseph Thomas Haynes.

However, based on the information provided by my mother-in-law, my first week or so’s research has centred around the 1841-1911 census returns and the odd foray into parish records. Using this combination of online sources I have constucted a basic skeleton of a family tree.  This is reproduced below.

Haynes Family Tree

Haynes Family Tree

The census search has proved fairly routine. No real difficulties tracking back to 1841. I used both the Ancestry and FindMyPast UK sites to do this. The only minor hurdle was finding William’s great grandfather, James Haynes, in the 1851 census. Although he was there in the 1841 census and then from 1861-1871, there was no trace of him in 1851. At this point I consulted on-line parish registers available for Shropshire on FindMyPast. Through the censuses I had located seven possible children[2] for James Haynes and his wife Ann. I then identified their baptisms in the Parish Registers for the parishes of Edgmond, Longford and Church Aston in Shopshire. This provided the breakthrough. The youngest children bore the surname “Haynes Parker” or “Parker Haynes”.  Only the youngest child George was born post-GRO registration. His baptism in 1838  is under the name Haynes-Parker, his GRO registration surname is Parker with Haynes being listed as a middle name.[3]  Eldest child, John, was baptised on 10 January 1824 at Edgmond Parish Church with the surname Parker and no mention of Haynes.  From this information it was now easy to locate James in the 1851 census – recorded under the name Parker not Haynes.

It also proved a breakthrough in locating James’ marriage. At the time of the 1851 census James’ mother-in-law Ann Hamlet resided with the James and Ann. The Parish Register of Stoke on Tern, Shropshire has a marriage on 31 March 1823 between James Parker and Ann Hamlet.  The Shropshire Parish Registers also provide a possible baptism for James in June 1797 at Lilleshall[4], illegitimate son of Ann Parker.

So if possible I would like to find out a little more about the reason behind this transistion of surname from Parker to Haynes, which took place during the late 1820’s to the early 1860s.

James’ son Joseph (1834) is the grandfather of William  Haynes. Born in around 1834 the Shropshire Parish Registers show that he was married by licence at Aston in Edgmond on 10 February 1859.  His bride was Mary Webb, daughter of William.  My husband says there is a family story that they are somehow connected to Captain Matthew Webb, the first recorded person to swim the English Channel. As yet, even despite this now shared surname, I have found no evidence to support the anecdote. My husband’s Webb Ancestry from the 1800’s appears to be Staffordshire based, with pre-1800s possibly Shropshire. A preliminary look at Captain Webb shows he was born in Shropshire in 1848. But it is something else to explore.

Of more immediate interest is an occupational connection between William Webb and the Haynes male line. They were all wheelwrights. By the turn of the 19th century the Haynes family  were diversifiying  adding building, joinery, carpentry and undertaking to their trade skill set.  In the late 1860’s they moved from Shropshire to Stone, Staffordshire to ply their trade and appear to have been extremely succesful at it. I had a quick look at the image archive on the Staffordshire Past-Track website[5] and was amazed to find images of  Haynes and Sons, Wheelwrights. This contains photographs of family events as well as ones of their business, including images of portable bandstands (one produced below)[6] manufactured by the family firm.  So again this is another aspect of the family history I intend exploring.

12 May 1910: Proclamation of the Accession of George V, Stone read from the portable bandstand in Granville Square. The portable band stand seen here was the first of its kind and was manufactured by Haynes and Sons, wheelwrights, of Station Road, Stone, and was purchased by Stone Urban District Council. See Copyright footnote at  [6]

12 May 1910: Proclamation of the Accession of George V, Stone read from the portable bandstand in Granville Square. The portable band stand seen here was the first of its kind and was manufactured by Haynes and Sons, wheelwrights, of Station Road, Stone, and was purchased by Stone Urban District Council. See Copyright footnote at [6]

Finally I quickly looked at the family details of William’s mother Maria (neé Yates). Her father John was a shoemaker, born in around 1830 in Stone, Staffordshire. John’s wife Ann and all his children were engaged in this trade. I traced John back to the 1841 census, living in the household of bricklayer James Thornhill and Ann. Other household members included George Yates (14) and Joseph Yates (7). From GRO indexes it appears that James Thornhill married Ann in 1838.[7]  So this is a certificate I would like to obtain to see if Ann’s name was Yates and to find out her background to see how this fits in with John.

I think the most satisfying aspect of researching my mother-in-law’s tree is her sheer delight at each new discovery. Of late she has struggled with memory issues, but this research is rekindling long forgotten episodes in her life.  It is an absolute joy for all concerned when some new find triggers the recollection of something buried deep in the recesses of her mind; or, because she knows I am working on her tree, she suddenly recalls some other fact or story. For example she thought her family routes were in Staffordshire, but when I identified a significant Shropshire connection she recalled her parents visiting family in that county. So this process is proving fascinating for me and an interest for her.

My next steps will be to try to flesh out the tree further with online parish records and the ordering of BMD certificates (oh, for that certificate price reduction, but sadly this research cannot wait!). Then to try to fill in the details of the individuals, their occupations and the times and areas in which they lived. I will return to this portion of my blog later in the summer.

Sources:   

[1] http://www.robertnicholls.co.uk/our-history/7.html

[2] I say possible because of the omission of family relationship details on the 1841 census.

[3] GRO Ref: Q3 1838 PARKER  George Haynes Newport  Vol 18 Pg 124

[4] The 1851 and 1861 censuses record his birthplace as Lilleshall, 1871 Woodcote,

[5] Staffordshire Past-Track website:  http://www.staffspasttrack.og.uk/

[6] With thanks to Staffordshire Past-Track and Mr David Haynes for allowing me to use this image. Copyright is retained by David Haynes who has kindly made his collection available to Staffordshire Past-Track for non-commercial private study & educational use. Additional information about permitted uses of content and commercial enquiries is available via the Copyright statement Copyright Statement on Staffordshire Past-Track. Re-distribution of resources in any form is only permitted subject to strict adherence to the guidelines in the full Terms and Conditions statement.

[7] GRO Ref: Q3 1838 Stoke on Trent Vol 17 Page 147

A Census “In-Betweener” – The Story of Thomas Gavan

This tale focuses on a very brief six month period following the birth of a teenager’s child which, but for the opportunity to see the original parish registers, may have been overlooked. When I did my research into this family the registers of St Mary of the Angels RC church, Batley were held by the parish. No copy existed in any archives although I understand that they may now be stored in those of the Leeds Diocese.

Bridget Gavan was the daughter of William and Bridget Gavan (nee Knavesey[1]).  The Gavan’s were originally from County Mayo, Ireland but arrived in England at around the time of the Great Famine. They are recorded at separate addresses in Blackwell Street, Kidderminster in the 1851 census and married in the town’s Roman Catholic Chapel on 25 January 1852.

The couple moved to Batley, West Yorkshire in around the spring of 1860.  Although I cannot be sure the precise impetus behind this move, it was probably a combination of work availability and County Mayo friendship networks. By early 1855 Kidderminster was suffering a decline in employment. Billing’s 1855 Worcestershire Directory and Gazetteer described trade in the town as in a depressed state with shop closures.

In contrast Batley was booming. Its shoddy industry had stimulated the town’s rapid growth. Mill jobs were available for men and women; and the development of the town with its associated infrastructure, housing and public building works generated employment for many including stone mason’s labourers, the craft William was engaged in. There was also a significant and growing Irish population, predominantly from the County Mayo area, the region from which the Gavan’s hailed. This included the Fitzpatrick’s, a family it appears William lodged with back in Kidderminster in 1851.

Bridget was born in Batley in 1869, the eighth of the Gavan’s nine children. As yet I have not traced her birth certificate. However in the early days of General Registration, a proportion of births simply slipped the net. In the period 1837-1875 in some areas of England it is estimated that up to 15 per cent of births were unregistered[2]. It appears that Bridget’s may possibly be one of these. However the parish register helpfully records she was baptised at St Mary’s on 23 May 1869 and the entry also indicates a date of birth of 2 May 1869. So the parish register proved invaluable even during the period of civil registration. Especially so given that in later years Bridget displayed some judicious flexibility with her age when she married a younger man.

However it is in 1889 that the parish register proves worth the genealogical equivalent of its weight in gold.  Without it I possibly may not have traced the birth of 19 year old unmarried Bridget’s first child.  Her marital status combined with the spelling of the infant’s surname as “Gaven” in the GRO indexes and the fact that the child died before the 1891 census all would have conspired to present a type of brick wall, albeit one of which I was unaware existed.

Amidst the 138 baptisms that took place in the parish in 1889 there is an entry for the baptism of a Thomas Gavan, son of Bridget, on 21 April 1889. From this I was able to locate the birth certificate which showed the child was born on 6 April 1889 at New Street, Batley. This may have been at her sister Mary’s house as she lived in this area at roughly this time.   Bridget’s mother died in 1884. Thereafter, despite her father still being alive, Bridget apparently lodged with various family members.

There is no indication as to who Thomas’ father was in either the baptismal entry or on the birth certificate.

Sadly Thomas did not survive long. He died on 22 October 1889 age six months. The death certificate records that his passing was the subject of an inquest. This took place the day following his demise at “The Bath Hotel” in Batley.

Accounts of this inquest exist in the town’s two local newspapers at the time, “The Batley News and Yorkshire Woollen District Advertiser” and “The Batley Reporter and Guardian”.  Additionally West Yorkshire Archives hold HM Coroner, Wakefield records for the period. These records have been digitised on Ancestry.co.uk and they contain the Coroner, Thomas Taylor’s, notes on Thomas Gavan’s inquest. These notes include witness statements from Bridget, her sister Margaret Hannan, a neighbour Esther Elwood and Emma Hallas who laid out Thomas’ body. Yet again the spelling of the family name changes depending on which source is used – Gaven in the inquest notes, Gavan in the “Batley News” and Gowan in the “Batley Reporter”. Nevertheless from these records the events leading up to his death can be reconstructed.

Bridget was employed as a feeder of a carding machine at a woollen mill, an occupation also termed as a scribbler feeder. Described as the largest machine in the woollen industry, the carding engine comprised a series of large and small cylinders. These were covered in closely set wire spikes. The blended wool passed through the machine, enabling the revolving cylinders to reduce the entangled mass of fibres into a filmy web. Each set of carding engines consisted of up to four machines, the first of which was called the scribbler and it was in this process which Bridget earned her living.  Her job would be to spread a certain weight of wool onto each marked section of a continuous apron.  Once the wool had passed through the cylinders of the scribbler it would be disentangled. It was then drawn off in continuous threads or “slivers.”

Bridget began this work when Thomas was two weeks old, leaving him in the care of her married sister. Though she had three surviving older sisters the implication is this was Margaret Hannan, with whom Bridget moved in about two months before Thomas’ death.  Margaret and her coal mining husband, John, lived at 2 Bank Foot, Batley. This was the house in which Thomas died.

Bank Foot, Batley

Bank Foot, Batley

So began Bridget’s routine for the next six months: going to work in the mill early in the morning and returning home at mealtimes to feed her baby. The inquest revealed that she used a combination of breast milk, boiled milk and bread.

When Thomas was about four months old she also started giving him something she referred to in the inquest as “Infants Preservative”.  This was very probably “Atkinson and Barker’s Royal Infants’ Preservative”, a popular Victorian product for babies. Adverts played on the royal connection stating it was supplied to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Promoted to be herbal, natural, narcotic-free, indeed the best and safest health tonic aimed at treating all manner of infant disorders ranging from teething and bowel problems to whooping cough and measles, what the adverts failed to mention was this medicine also in fact contained laudanum, an opiate.

Working mothers such as Bridget would believe they were doing the best for their children, giving them a good start to life warding off childhood illnesses and helping them flourish at a time of high infant mortality. At the same time the product may have had the seemingly added bonus of naturally calming the child whilst the mother worked long hours. And after all it was, according to the advertising, used by Royalty!

Interestingly it also claimed to give instant relief for convulsions which may also have been another factor in Bridget’s choice of product. For, on a Saturday afternoon about a month prior to his death, Thomas suffered a fit.  The Doctor was called and the child revived after being put into a bath of warm water. Despite suffering another fit about a week later he, in Bridget’s words, “continued lively”.

A few days before his death, Thomas was described as having a slight cough which affected his breathing. However by the Sunday and Monday he had seemingly recovered and there appeared to be no cause for concern.

On the morning of Tuesday 22 October Bridget arose and set off to work at 5.55am leaving Thomas in bed. However arriving at the mill “two or three minutes after the proper time” her employers sent her home. Back at the house she waited until 7am to wake Thomas and then brought him downstairs to feed him breast milk. There appeared to be no problem until 7.45am when she tried to take off his nightdress in order to wash him.  At this point he coughed and then suffered another convulsion.

Margaret now took charge, looking after Thomas whilst Bridget was sent to fetch a neighbour, Esther Elwood, and the doctor.  Within 10 minutes of Mrs Elwood’s arrival Thomas died very quietly in his cradle.  It was 8am. Bridget had not made it back in time. Although the Coroner’s notes make no reference to the arrival of the doctor the newspapers state that Dr Lauder turned up at about 8.30am but would not give a certificate, hence the inquest.

Thomas’ body was described as “very well nourished and free from any sign of disease and injury” by Emma Hallas, who undressed and washed him after his death.

The inquest returned a verdict of death from natural causes. Thomas’ death certificate records the cause of death as “probably pneumonia; convulsions 10 minutes”.

Bridget had taken insurance out with the Royal Liver Friendly Society for Thomas’ life within a short time of his birth. However even with this insurance, providing it was actually paid out, Bridget was still unable to afford a burial plot for her son. He was buried in a common grave in Batley Cemetery on 24 October. The burial register has yet another variation of the surname – this time Gavin.

By the time of the 1891 census Bridget was no longer with Margaret and John. Instead she was lodging with her sister Mary and family who now resided East Street in Batley. She was still employed as a scribbler feeder. She did not marry until 1897.

Without the parish register I may never have known about the inter-census birth and death of her first child, Thomas.

Bridget Gavan is my great grandmother.

Sources:

[1] There are multiple variants of the surname Knavesey, but this is the one used on the marriage certificate

[2]Ancestral Trails” – Mark Herber