British Research Tips
When using British census records, if the person or family of interest is listed at the very top or very bottom of the page do not forget to look at the previous/next page of the census where you may find more family members.
In addition, when you select a British census year on Ancestry, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you can access geographically, first by county then by village. So if you cannot find someone in a given year try looking at the place they lived ten years before/after, and you may get lucky. This access also gives you the enumeration district description which can help to locate the place where someone lived.
Under â€œVillagesâ€ you will find some â€œpseudo villagesâ€ (e.g., extra parochial–â€œisolated residences outside of any parishâ€), lighthouses, Royal Navy, and vessels. If the main census shows a wife but no head of household, maybe he was at sea.
Lastly, when using the BMD Partial Index (links below) do not forget the quarter indicates only that the record was entered into the Register for that quarter. The actual event may have taken place one or two quarters earlier. I have even found one where it appears to have been registered before the event! Presumably there was a backlog and a card was placed in the wrong pile!
Alan W. Wright
- England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index: 1837-1983–FreeÂ
- England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1983–Free
- England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1983–FreeÂ
Searching the Old-Fashioned Way
In Michael Neillâ€™s article, Finding James in 1870, he says,
â€œAnd if all else fails: search the census manually–page by page– in the area where your relative lived. In some areas this may be time consuming, but those of us who began our ancestral searches in the days before indexes are probably familiar with this approach. Once in a while we need to return to it. Manual scanning gives us an idea of the neighborhood and may help us to find relatives disguised as neighbors.
Boy does he have that right! I knew that my Spurgeon (Spurgin) family lived in Union Township, Clark Co., Indiana in 1870. I had found them on previous census tables, and they had several marriages with another branch of my family, the Branhams. No matter how I set the search, they would not come up! Somehow none of them seem to be living there and yet I knew they had not moved.
I figured I had a couple of choices. I could look up some of their neighbors from the 1850 and 1860 census. (Since they were all farmers hopefully they still worked the same land.) Or, I could look at the alphabetical list of everyone in Union Township, Clark County for all of them–neighbors and family.
Success! Archibald Spurgeon was read by the translator of the handwriting for the electronic index as Surgeme and Branan for Branham. When I then pulled up the copy of the document I could understand how the indexer could come up with that spelling if they were not used to reading this sort of cursive script.
Lesson learned–just because they don’t come up on the electronic search doesn’t mean there were not there! Sometimes you just have to do it the old-fashioned way!
Rancho Murieta, CA
Where Am I?
Recently my father passed away. Last night my siblings and I were going through photos (Dad had kept) that mother cataloged before she passed several years ago. In an envelope marked “places lived,â€ there is a house with no identification. I’m not ever sure if she lived there or some ancestor.
I’d like to suggest that you make an area of the Weekly Journal where people can send in a photo of a place in history and ask your readers if anyone can identify it. I’d love to know where this place is.
Editorâ€™s Note: Done. If you have a photo of a location that youâ€™re not sure of, send it in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Iâ€™ll periodically post them on the blog. Maybe someone familiar with or from the area can help identify the background!
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