One thing that really annoys me is when I find references to the town of Horsham being in the county of Surrey, it’s not, it is in Sussex. I should know I have spent most of my working life there, and it is the closest town to where I live.
I saw another example this week, the December 2009 issue of the Family Tree Magazine (the UK one) has an interesting article on sources available for researching postal ancestors. It includes a photo of postmen trying out a new type of cycle, known as the pentacycle or Hen and Chickens. The British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA) have the same image in their Moving the Mail: Horses to Horsepower online exhibition.
The BPMA have got their facts right and have put Horsham in the correct county, but Family Tree Magazine has moved Horsham into the neighbouring county of Surrey. Family Tree Magazine are not alone, because I have seen many examples of Horsham, Surrey.
Out of curiosity I asked some of my work colleagues about the subject, they too had noticed it in the past, but were obviously not as concerned as I was.
I would love to find out where this all started, who first thought Horsham was in Surrey not Sussex. I suspect people might be confusing Horsham, Sussex with Hersham, Surrey. Although they are about thirty miles apart geographically, they are only one letter different in spelling.
Interestingly when I search on just birthplace in the 1901 English census on Ancestry.co.uk, it gives me 322 results for Horsham, Surrey compared to 11,159 for Horsham, Sussex. Hersham, Sussex comes up with 269 results and Hersham, Surrey comes up with 2,227. Clearly many of these are probably transcription errors, but it could still cause confusion if you are not sure which county you should be looking in for your ancestor’s birth, especially when the error is repeated elsewhere off the census.
Are there any place name confusions or mistakes that get you angry or annoyed? Have you come across any in your research? Let me know in the comments.