Researching the Howard family

A couple of posts ago, I found my great-grandmother Ada Howard and her parents in the 1911 census. I thought I’d return to this particular line of my family history and concentrate on tracking it back a bit further.

Ada was seven in the 1911 census, suggesting that she was born in around 1903/1904. The census form also states that my great-grandmother was born in Buntingford, Hertfordshire. By searching the birth indexes at, I found the following entry for an Ada Maria Howard born in Royston in 1903.

Ada Maria Howard's birth record


I gave Royston a quick google and it seems it’s only about eight miles away from Buntingford. It therefore looked likely that this was the record of my great-grandmother’s birth, so I used the reference details provided to order Ada’s birth certificate from the General Register Office.

Ada Maria Howard's birth certificate


The birth certificate tells me that Ada was born on 11th June 1903 in Layston, Buntingford. It informs me that her father, Ernest Howard, was a Chimney Sweeper Master and that her mother’s name was Mercy. Interestingly, Mercy’s maiden name was Howard – perhaps a sign that my great-great-grandparents were cousins?

I’ve updated the Howard side of my family tree with the details I’ve gleaned from both the 1911 census and Ada’s birth certificate. I think I’ll continue tracing this particular branch of my family tree for the time being – I’d love to find out a bit more about Ernest’s occupation and also whether there really was a bit of inter-family marriage in the Howard line.

The Howard branch of my family tree

11 Responses to “Researching the Howard family”

  1. Claire Says:

    My friend is a Howard from the Lancaster area, and unfortunately there’s a complication with researching her family in the 19th century: they mostly didn’t get enumerated or registered. The family were cant-speaking Scottish travelling gypsies whose route was between Lancaster and Durham, and Howard was a common surname among them. I wonder if a master chimney sweep might’ve been from a similar family.

    • Thomas maguire Says:

      I have just noticed your post I know it is three years late but i think I can help as I am a traveller from lancaster and my granny was that Howard family. Tom

      • jackyworrall Says:

        hello tom, i have just read your post. my great great grandmother on my fathers side was a howard from lancaster who married a non traveller. she had a son my great grandfather, thomas white, but died of diptheria when he was only 3 or 4 years old. my father has told me that she is buried in skirton cemetary and that for the funeral my great great g’father had to have a police escort to the church, and then leave. I wonder if you or your elders have any recollection of this? regards, jacky nee white.

      • T maguire Says:

        I jacky I have just seen your post and sorry I haven’t got back before now there are two cemetery’s in skerton ask your dad wich one it is my family are buried in St Luke’s church yard and probably yours is I have a strong feeling you are a distant cousin and I would like to help you more if I can but my parents are now both dead but I will ask my aunt for you if you can give me a few more details tom

      • jackyworrall Says:

        thanks tom, for your reply. Ill ask my dad, he is coming round this week and then get back to you. are you still travelling or based in one place now, would be good to see you some time in the future. its amazing all this history isnt it? hope you are well, once again thanks,

      • T maguire Says:

        I jacky I am just living in lancaster now I bought a house here about ten years ago I am going to give you my email address and then you can send me a email back then I will give you my telephone number it would be nice, to hear from you my email is tommaguire 1967@ drop me a email and I will give you my number by for now tom

    • T maguire Says:

      Claire I have just sent some more details to your friend jacks make sure she reads it I nowe have loads of information fore youse and if you like I will pass you my phone number tom

  2. Amy Says:

    Hmmm, I wonder! I’d love to find travellers in my tree – though I imagine this makes them very difficult to track back through the censuses.

  3. Beginning the Howard hunt « Amy: Finding My Past Says:

    […] A little while ago I discovered that my maternal great-great-grandmother Mercy had the same maiden name as her married name: Howard. This made me wonder whether Mercy Howard may have been related to her husband (my great-great-grandfather) Ernest Howard. I’ve been doing a bit of digging and I’m becoming more and more convinced that they were. […]

  4. T maguire Says:

    I jacky look on google and put in skerton in times past by Jm birtwistle it is a book about skerton my old school teacher done when I was their and my mam gave her most the photos so their are a lot of pitchers of the Howard and it tells you all their names under neath I am going tomorrow to look for your grandmas grave I will find it and take a pitcher for you I will take a pitcher of all the Howard graves you will be amazed but I am a little confused as to whether your grandma Ada or your grandma mercy was burried hear also my granny was Howard and my grandad her husbands mother was a Howard but they was no relation there are two sets of Howard’s in skerton that are travellers now you have set me of on a journey to really help you let me try to help you hear I not saying it or I’m not saying it isn’t but on your marriage lines it says one grandad was a hawker that is what we do as you will no it means pedaling goods the other says chimney sweep but travellers didn’t like telling none travellers what their occupation was so they would sometimes say another occupation we refair to none travellers as gorges well jacky I spoke to a old chap today I asked did he know a Ada Howard he said yes I don’t no if this is the same one but he said she lived on Main Street skerton I will close for now hope this is all helping you hope to hear from you soon tom

    • jackyworrall Says:

      hi , i hope you are well and thank you for taking such an interest in this for me. i spoke to my dad last week, and his grandmother, Jane Howard is buried in skerton but not st lukes, the other one. she married thomas white (a gorge) in 1902 and they moved to sheffield. she met him whilst working as a chamber maid at the station hotel in lancaster. she died in 1914 and apparently was brought back on the train from sheffield for the burial. my father says that his father recalled that a gypsy cart and horses was waiting at the station to take her to a house, in skerton, and that she was then buried in skerton. they had to have a police escort for the funeral. My father said that his father remembers the coffin had a glass plate at the top so he could see her face.
      my father has since found the grave, but it is completely unmarked, he planted daffodils at its head tho a few years ago. My father has tried to track this side of his family and knocked on a few doors in skerton a few years ago but the people gave him short thrift ! didnt want to talk. my grandfather tom, jane’s son, rode bareback as well.
      i think jane was persona non grata for marrying outside of the traveller community ? it was kind of my great grandfather to bring her back to her family for burial though. thats all i know ish……. jacky

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