Tag Archives: census

The S&N Story – twenty years of genealogy supplies

18 Mar

As well as providing news of their latest offerings and Who Do You Think You Are? Live, the latest S&N Genealogy email newsletter provides a link to an interesting article marking their 20th anniversary.

Twenty years ago family history was very different to what it is today. The idea of genealogy data being available anywhere other than archives was almost unthinkable. As we know that has all changed and one of the companies that helped make those changes was S&N Genealogy.

It is fascinating to read how the business has grown and evolved, often leading the way in a world that was becoming increasingly digital and internet orientated.

I remember those early days (although not the full twenty years ago) when only the 1881 census (in the form of a transcript from Familysearch) and 1901 census (after it’s initial teething troubles) were available digitally, so to fill in the gap I ordered the 1891 Sussex Census CD set from S&N.

This served me well until the images became available online, indexed as well. I still have the CDs in a drawer somewhere, now superceded by internet access, including S&N’s TheGenealogist website.

Congratulations S&N on your 20th anniversary, it has been an interesting 20 years. I look forward to the next couple of decades.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Updating my 1911 census images

8 Jan

I knew it was something I was going to have to do when the time came, but that hasn’t made it any less time-consuming and it has to be said any less tedious. It would have been nice if those little white rectangles had suddenly disappeared from the images I had downloaded, but that was never going to happen was it?

So this afternoon I have spent several hours updating all those 1911 census images that I had download over the last couple of years. As I write this I haven’t quite finished, probably another thirty images left to download, but so far it has been almost completely unproductive.

About eighty images so far have been saved to my hard drive and so far I have been rewarded with only two entries in that newly unveiled column sixteen. Horace DUNFORD (my 2x great-aunt’s husband) was a cripple from birth apparently and of course I didn’t need to 1911 census to tell me that George Thomas GASSON was a lunatic.

I suppose it is rather uncharitable of my to wish infirmity on my ancestors and relatives, even if they are long since departed, but it would have been nice to find more people with some sort of infirmity, or even one of those “funny” ones that get mentioned in press releases.

I hadn’t realised that I had downloaded quite so many 1911 census images and if I had thought about it I could have waited until the complete image was released, but greed and impatience took over and I had to have those images, now I am paying the price (thankfully in time, not money) having to download them all again when I could be doing other things.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Henry GASSON – more census lessons learnt

26 Jul

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.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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1911 census images on Ancestry.co.uk

24 May

When it comes to the Ancestry.co.uk website you never know quite what you are going to wake up to. This morning I took a look at the website and discovered that they have uploaded images from the 1911 census for England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The images are not indexed yet, or at least the index is not online yet. I am sure we will hear more about this when the news is officially released by Ancestry but for now you will need to have an idea where you should be looking, possibly using their previously released Census Summary Books.

According to their source information page: “They can be browsed by county, civil parish, sub-registration district, and enumeration district.”

I am certain a lot of people have been eagerly awaiting this release and even if you haven’t it will be good to have another alternative index available when it does go live. Unfortunately we still have to wait until next year to view the contents of the infirmity column.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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The 2011 census – what will future generations make of me?

28 Mar

Having done my duty and filled in the 2011 census form last night I got to wondering what future genealogists and family historians would make of our answers to the 2011 census.

It was a useful reminder that we probably shouldn’t try to read too much in the answers that our ancestors left. We scrutinise the census returns for any little clue to the lives of our ancestors, but they were just doing the same as me last night, filling in a form for some government statisticians, struggling to remember details that I couldn’t be bothered to get up and check and hoping that I hadn’t mis-read any of the questions.

Still I couldn’t help but imagine future generations studying my answers intently, trying to piece together my life from those few questions and answers and wondering what sort of picture they will come up with.

Will the fact that I decided to fill in the paper form and not the online version be seen as evidence that I didn’t have a computer or access to internet?

Will they wonder how I managed to take the train to work when I didn’t live near a railway station? Will the figure out that I took a bus to the station? Will they be studying contemporary timetables trying to work out which trains I must have caught? Will they be searching digital archives for photos of the trains that I might have travelled on?

What will they make of the fact that we have gas central heating? Will they ponder on the significance of that fact? Will the Society of Genealogists publish a book in 2111 entitled “My Ancestor had Central Heating” describing the different type of central heating and the significance to your ancestors.

Will they be attending lectures entitled “Black or Blue? What the colour of ink your ancestor used to fill in the 2011 census can tell you about their lives” or “Pen and Paper: Why your ancestor didn’t do it online”?

Although it is fun to wonder what future generations will make of my answers in the 2011 census it is also serves as a warning not to read too much in the answers given by earlier generations. Was that visitor just staying the night or had they been living there for years? Were they welcomed with open arms or tolerated because they had nowhere else to stay? In most case we will probably never know.

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