Friday, January 23, 2015

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 27 - Census

Shauna has chosen Census Records for Week 27, and I must confess I do love England's wealth of census records, and have often railed against their loss in Australia.
In her blog Shauna says "I am sure all of us have benefited from being able to search the digitised copies of the UK census for ourselves. We can simply look up the indexed records in Ancestry or Findmypast and go straight to the correct image. But and there is always a but, not everything is straightforward or we don’t have instant access to subscription databases."  She adds that "Poor handwriting and indexing errors are an issue although we can search on given names and perhaps discover the surname that way."

I have spent quite a bit of time searching various branches of my family, and it is always fascinating to follow a family or individual through several censuses - children are born, grow up and leave home, a spouse might die and the survivor remarry, the family might move, and so on.  I also have a few gaps in the census records for my family - where were they on census night??  Hiding?  Abroad?  Or is the handwriting so illegible or the name so misspelt that thus far I simply can't track them down?

One family I have followed through the census is my Hines branch of the family tree.  In the 1841 census (right) parents James and Susan are alive and children John, Samuel, Albert and Hannah are listed with them.  Eldest daughter Susannah is not home on census night and so not listed here.

By the time of the next census in 1851, circumstances have changed for the family.  Both parents have died, and the five siblings have been split up.  The two eldest children, Susannah and John, now aged 18 and 16, are living with their maternal grandparents and are listed below as house servant and farm servant respectively.

Middle child Samuel, age 14, has been found a home with relatives, and is listed as a lodger in the house of James Prentice.  His maternal grandmother Susannah's maiden name was Prentice (she is the Susannah Woollard listed above, who took in the two eldest children), and James Prentice is her nephew.

The two youngest children, Albert, now age 12 and Hannah, age 10, have been less fortunate.  Apparently there were no relatives willing and able to take these youngest children, and they are listed in the census as paupers in the Cosford Union Workhouse.

Once again, thanks to Shauna for her 52 week challenge - she really makes me go back to my research and have a think.  The read Shauna's full blog on Census Records, please click here.

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