Tag Archives: 1911 census

Clowning around on the railway

22 Feb

It is not often that I find something in my research that makes me laugh out loud. Sure I find things that make me smile all the time, and occasionally something that makes me chuckle, but very rarely will I actually laugh out loud.

I don’t know quite why I found it so funny. I was searching in the 1911 census on Findmypast.co.uk, whilst investigating my 3x great-uncle Abraham Graham KINGHORN and what happened to his wife and children after his early death in 1886.

I had found his widow Sarah and two children living at 60 Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton, Sussex in 1911. They shared their house with two boarders, and it was the first of these that made me laugh.

His name was Frederick VOYCE and according to the transcription his occupation was apprentice clown. Like I said, I don’t know why that seemed so ridiculous to me. When I thought about it, I assumed that there had to be some clowns and circus entertainers listed in the census, and clowns had to learn their skills like anybody else, so why shouldn’t there be an apprentice clown.

Of course when I looked at the actual image, he wasn’t a clown, I am not sure what he was an apprentice of, the word is hard to make out, but he was working for a railway company, so I think it is safe to say they weren’t training many clowns at the time.

Looking at the occupation code (the three digit number) the enumerator has written on the schedule (512) it appears he was training to work on railway engines either as a driver, stoker or cleaner.

Have you found anything in the census that has made you laugh out loud during your research? Have you come across any clowns in the census?

Missing (but now found) from the 1911 census transcription

12 Feb

The birth certificate of Walter Henry BOXALL encouraged me to investigate what happened to his mother Alice Ruth and her husband Walter William WEST, one source I checked was the 1911 census.

It took me quite a bit of searching to find the couple and their five children. I had almost given up on finding them, even trying a search of the passengers lists to see if they had left the country. I found a death entry in the GRO indexes that seemed to indicate that Alice was still living in Sussex when she died in 1968, and this encouraged me to continue searching.

I tried so many different searches, it didn’t help from my side that I didn’t have a reliable date of birth for Walter William WEST, but it expected to be able to find the couple together in Sussex, somewhere near Chichester.

Eventually I found Walter William WEST, living in Cocking, Sussex, according to the transcription he had six children, but his wife was missing. Curiously there were two sons with the same name (Charles), age (9 years) and place of birth (West Dean, Sussex). I thought that a bit bizarre, but all was revealed when I checked the actual census page.

There was only one Charles on the page, and there was Alice the wife of Walter William. In the transcription Charles had been duplicated and somehow Alice had been missed altogether. I have submitted a correction, in fact six or seven corrections, so that hopefully anyone searching for Alice in future will not have the same problem as me.

Ironically, this particular page was one of the neatest I have seen in my searches, Walter William WEST had the sort of handwriting that I wish all my relations had, clear and legible, not what you would expect from a labourer on the railways.

Generally though I have found that the 1911 census transcription is pretty good, although I do find the odd mistake now and then, but nothing as major as an individual actually missing.

Time never stands stills in genealogy

26 Jan

Whilst going through my files and getting everything up to date I turned my attention to the SUMMERFIELD family. The family connection is through another TROWER, this time it was Martha, who was sister of Mercy and Mary, who I have mentioned many times already.

It didn’t seem that long ago that I last did some research on James and Martha (although I see it was back in May 2008 that I visited Felbridge, Surrey in search of gravestones), but so much more information is available online now in such a short time, that my research has been left behind.

Starting with their marriage, although James was from Rusper, Sussex and Martha was from Henfield, Sussex the marriage took place in London (it looks like Martha must have been working up in London). Previously I only had the GRO BMD index reference for the marriage, but now of course the London Parish Registers are available on Ancestry.co.uk, including the entry for James and Martha.

The 1911 census has added even more information to their stories. In 1911 they were living in Newdigate, Surrey with their two children Sidney Ambrose (born 1894) and Raymond James (born 1907). The census also revealed that there had been another child who had died by the time of the census, so I have added the task of find him/her to my to-do list.

The eldest son Sidney Ambrose was killed during the First World War, although apparently not whilst on active service. Fortunately his service record survived and is now available on Ancestry.co.uk, although as you can see below it didn’t escape unscathed.

Burnt Documents

It is not going to be easy to pick out the details from these scraps of paper, but it is going onto my to-do list. Hopefully I can find out the details surrounding Sidney’s death.

There are still the updated GRO BMD indexes to search on Ancestry.co.uk, hopefully they will enable me to find descendants of the surviving son Raymond James (possibly even living descendants), another item for the to-do list.

I was surprised that so much more needs to be added to my family tree in such a short time, and it worries me what else needs updating. It also makes me think I need to establish some sort of regular review, either once each new database goes online or after a fixed period of time.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 2)

10 Jan

It has been a funny sort of week, although I like most of the people in England have been stuck at home because of the snow I haven’t actually done a lot of genealogy. My main priority is finding another job, that in itself is becoming a full time job, however things are progressing slowly on that front.

  • I made a start on sorting out my photos, but I really need to dedicate an evening just going through all my folders and getting all the photos in the right places.
  • I also made a start on getting one of my photos identified, with the help of the Victorian Wars Forum. I still have more work to do on that, but have made good progress so far. Expect to see some blog posts about that in the coming week.
  • I now have a folder full of 1911 census images that need sorting out. Re-naming the files and entering all the data on Family Historian.
  • I ordered the will and death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN last week, along with another marriage certificate and a birth certificate. The certificates should hopefully arrive this week and need processing, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before the copy of the will arrives.
  • I didn’t get any to-do lists done, but from going through my family tree it does look like I have reached the limit of what I can actually do from home (back beyond the census and civil registration) for most of my ancestors, so I really do need to get some archive visits planned soon.
  • I want to start writing the story of Luther TROWER, Henrietta KING and Charles BRINTON. It is an interesting story which I alluded to briefly before. I think I will try and get it researched and written completely before I actually publish it on this blog. I want to start on that story as soon as possible, so I will try and put together an outline this week.

The 1911 census reveals yet another puzzle

9 Jan

I have been going through my database trying to pick out all the people who I don’t have a 1911 census entry for. I know I should really run a query to do it but that is beside the point, it is good to manually go through the branches of my tree once in a while.

I now have a folder of images that I need to go through and capture all the details and add to the database, then I can run a query and see who I am missing.

One interesting puzzle turned up when I searched for my great-aunt Nellie Caroline MITCHELL. She was born in West Dean, Sussex in 1899. I had previously found most of the family, including my grandfather and great-grandparents in West Dean, but Nellie wasn’t there, and I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Now I have gone back and searched for her I have discovered the eleven year old Nellie as a patient in a home for sick and crippled children at 181 Priory Road, Hastings, Sussex, known as the House of Sacred Compassion.

I know very little about Nellie, I have a marriage for her back at West Dean in 1933 to a Frank CUTLER, so whatever was wrong with Nellie wasn’t fatal, but I have no idea what it was. It appears that she died in the Chichester Registration District in 1977, so she had quite a long life, but there doesn’t appear to have been any children from the marriage.

I can find virtually nothing about the House of Sacred Compassion online, so don’t really know what it was, but I assume it was a religious charity set-up to look after sick children. I suspect a visit to the library in Hastings or the East Sussex Record Office is going to be needed to find out more.

In the meantime I am going to have to question my mother and her brothers and sisters to see if they have any recollections of their aunt Nellie Caroline MITCHELL.

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