In an effort to fill one of the small gaps in my family tree I have been trying to find out where and when my 4x great-grandfather Henry GASSON died and where he was subsequently buried. Henry GASSON holds a special place in my heart because it was he and his wife and children who brought my particular GASSON line over the border from Surrey into Sussex sometime around 1830.
What limited work I had done previously had left Henry in Slaugham, Sussex in 1851 and I had been unable to find him in the 1861 census. There was only one death registration in the GRO indexes between 1851 and 1861 (in Horsham Registration District in Q1 1860), so it seemed quite likely that this was my Henry, but I never pursued it further at the time.
Picking up from where I left off several years ago I decided that I needed to find a bit more evidence before I invested my hard-earned money in a copy of the death certificate for the 1860 death registration. It didn’t take long (with the help of the SFHG Data Archive) to find a burial at Horsham, Sussex in February 1860 for a two-year old Henry, clearly this wasn’t my 4x great-grandfather.
So back to the drawing board, but armed with this information it seemed likely that Henry should be somewhere in the 1861 census, waiting to be discovered. I headed back to Ancestry, Findmypast and The Genealogist and still no sign of my Henry. There was a Henry of the right age in Rye, Sussex but that was too far of a leap geographically. There was a Henry in Slaugham, Sussex but he was too young.
Then remembered my experience with FreeCen several months ago, and how it had come to my rescue. I was lost for words when once again FreeCen delivered the goods and came up with my Henry GASSON. He was the correct age and living in Slaugham, how could I and the three big names in online genealogy have missed him?
Now I knew where Henry was it was easy to find him on Ancestry, Findmypast and The Genealogist. The biggest surprise to me was that the transcribers for all three sites had made the same mistake, they had all recorded his age as 26 years and not 76 years. I know the numbers are not particularly clear (the vertical check mark on the left doesn’t help) but there is no horizontal stroke across the both of the 7 that would have made it a 2. Although I would have to admit that the top horizontal stroke looks a little rounded, but that doesn’t really make it into the number 2.
I shouldn’t really have been surprised that FreeCen had the correct age, after all I have had success before, but what really did surprise me was that all the other three sites had interpreted it the same. I know I would have found Henry eventually on any of the three main sites if I had persevered and dug a little deeper beyond the index entries, but to be honest I wouldn’t have expected such a large error on Henry’s age, perhaps a few years but not fifty years.
My next step would almost certainly have found him because I was going to progress to tracing all his children in the 1861 census. Henry is lodging with one of his married daughters, but the fact she was married might have slowed things down, plus Henry and his wife did have fourteen children so it might have taken me a while to get around to tracing the right child.
I would have been much simpler for me to have searched FreeCen at the start, something that I must remember in the future.