Archive for the ‘Census’ Category

How to start your family tree, using Findmypast

March 8, 2015

Interested in starting your own family tree? I’ve put together this video guide to show you how to get going.

You can use the birth, marriage, death and census records I mention in the video by signing up for Findmypast’s 14 day free trial.

You’ll need to enter payment details, but just cancel the day before the expiry date through the ‘My Account’ section of the website and you won’t be charged.

 

 

I’ve been tracing my own family history for about six years – my paternal Silk ancestors feature in the video. I really hope you find it useful.

Proof that Thomas Edward Taylor won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge

July 22, 2014

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been able to prove that my great-great-great-grandfather won the famous Doggett’s Coat and Badge rowing race.

It seems the rumour I started investigating in my last post is true!

Thames waterman records

My cousin Lorraine sent me this photo of twenty winners of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge.

While I’m not sure which man is which, the caption at the bottom states that a ‘T. E. Taylor’ is among the group and that he won the race in 1878.

 

Twenty winners of the Doggetts Coat and Badge

Doggett’s Coat and Badge race winners – please click to enlarge

 

There’s also a collection of Thames Watermen & Lightermen records available online at Findmypast.

These confirm that a Thomas Edward Taylor won the race in 1878. But a question remains: is this ‘my’ Thomas Edward Taylor?

 

Thomas Edward Taylor, winner of the Doggett's Coat and Badge race

Newspaper article reveals an address

There are millions of historical newspaper pages available to search at The British Newspaper Archive.

All of the words in the newspapers are searchable, so you can look for absolutely anything.

I searched the collection for “Thomas Taylor” “Doggett Coat and Badge” and found the following article, published in Reynolds’s Newspaper in 1886.

 

Cutting from Reynolds's Newspaper, 13 June 1886, found at The British Newspaper Archive.

 

It describes an inquest into the death of an apprentice lighterman, who had ‘drowned in the River Thames, opposite the House of Commons’.

Thomas Taylor witnessed the tragedy and gave evidence. The article stated that Taylor had ‘won the Doggett Coat and Badge in 1878’ and that his address was 13 Paradise Street.

Confirming the address

I already know that my great-great-great-grandfather had lived in Paradise Street, but not at that precise address. The 1891 census (included as part of my last post) placed him at 51 Paradise Street.

Thomas Taylor’s daughter Eliza was five years old at the time of the 1891 census. I calculated that this meant she would have been born in about 1886, when the newspaper article above was printed.

Using this information, I tracked down Eliza’s baptism record in the London parish records at Ancestry. You can see that her father was listed as being a Waterman and was residing at 13 Paradise Street. A perfect match!

 

Baptism of Eliza Taylor in Lambeth

 

It’s fantastic to have been able to prove so conclusively that my great-great-great-grandfather did win the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race in 1878.

The Doggett’s Coat and Badge race

May 20, 2014
Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor

Earlier this year, I mentioned that there’s a family rumour about the father of my paternal great-great-grandmother, Maria Taylor.

My nan believes that Maria’s father once won a rowing race called the Doggett’s Coat and Badge.

 

What was the Doggett’s Coat and Badge?

 

The Doggett’s Coat and Badge race is the oldest rowing race in the

Doggetts Coat and Badge race winner

Doggett’s Coat and Badge winner

world. It was set up and funded by the comedian Thomas Doggett and has been held on the River Thames since 1715. Unbelievably, it’s still going today!

Every year, six Thames Watermen who had recently completed their apprenticeships raced from The Old Swan pub at London Bridge to The New Swan pub at Chelsea. Watermen appear to have been similar to taxi drivers, rowing passengers along and across the river.

The prize was an orange coat, a silver badge and the winner also apparently became a Royal Waterman. This ties in nicely with another family rumour about Maria Taylor’s father – that he once took Queen Victoria across the River Thames.

Thomas Edward Taylor, Thames Waterman

 

I was introduced to Maria Taylor’s father for the first time on her marriage certificate. My nan has a copy of this in her possession, so I didn’t need to order it from the General Register Office.

Marriage certificate from 25 December 1899

George Jones and Maria Taylor’s marriage certificate – please click to enlarge

The marriage certificate shows that Maria married my great-great-grandfather George Jones at Putney Church on Christmas Day in 1899. My nan believes it wasn’t unusual for people to get married on Christmas Day, as it was often one of the only days they had off of work.

Thomas Edward Taylor is recorded as being Maria’s father – my great-great-great-grandfather. According to the certificate, he was employed as a Lighterman. Lightermen were similar to Watermen, transporting goods across the River Thames, so this occupation fits in with the family rumour.

I’ve traced the family through the census records at findmypast and have also found Thomas listed as a ‘Lighterman Waterman’ in many of the records. Here he is in the 1891 census, living at 51 Paradise Street, Lambeth with his wife and six children (including a 13-year-old Maria):

The Taylor family in the 1891 census

The Taylor family in the 1891 census – please click to enlarge

 

Next steps

 

My initial investigations seem to show that there could be some truth behind my family rumour. Thomas Edward Taylor had the right sort of occupation to have won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race.

My next challenge is to see whether any records about the race and the Watermen who took part in it survive.

Discoveries at the Society of Genealogists

April 23, 2014

I had a spare couple of hours the other weekend, so thought I’d put them to good use by visiting the Society of Genealogists for the first time.

Having searched the library catalogue in advance, I knew they had microfiche copies of parish records from Campton, Bedfordshire. I’d learnt that my great-great-great-grandmother Sophia Stevens came from Campton a couple of years ago.

Since that discovery, I’ve ordered Sophia’s birth certificate and found out that her unmarried mother’s name was Mary Stevens. I’ve also found Sophia living with her mother and widowed grandmother in the 1851 census on findmypast.

Sophia Stevens in the 1851 census

As you can see, Sophia’s grandmother was also called Mary and was recorded as being a pauper. Her mother, Mary Stevens, was a plaiter and had been born in Campton.

Stevens family in the 1851 census

Sophia Stevens and family in the 1851 census – please click to enlarge

 

What I found in the parish records

The Society of Genealogists’ Campton records were extremely useful and provided me with some new facts for my family tree. This is what I found:

  1. Mary Stevens’ baptism record 

    Sophia’s mother, my 4x great-grandmother, was baptised on 18 June 1820. Her parents were Joseph and Mary Stevens.

    Baptism record from Campton, Bedfordshire

    © Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service – please click to enlarge

  2.  

  3. Joseph and Mary Stevens’ marriage record 

    Sophia’s grandparents, my 5x great-grandparents, married on 20 April 1817. Mary’s maiden name was Grumet.

    Interestingly, one of her sons is listed as having the middle name Grummit in the 1851 census record posted above.

    Marriage record from Campton, Bedfordshire

    © Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service – please click to enlarge

 

An amazing photo of the Jones family

February 16, 2014

I just had to share this fantastic photo from my nan’s collection. It shows my great-grandfather John William Jones, his seven siblings and parents in about 1916.

The Jones family in about 1916

 

My nan tells me that from left to right, the photo captures:

  • Tom Jones
  • George Jones, my great-great-grandfather
  • George Jones (nicknamed Bead)
  • John Jones, my great-grandfather
  • Maria Jones nee Taylor (known as Ria), my great-great-grandmother with baby Ann Jones
  • Maria Jones (known as Doll) with Edward Jones (known as Ted)
  • Harry Jones
  • Lilie Jones (who went on to marry Olympic athlete, Ernest Johnson)

 

I’ve found the family in the 1911 census, minus Lilie, Harry and Ann who were not yet born. The family of seven were living in three rooms at 29 Pearman Street in Lambeth – quite a squeeze!

George Jones was employed as a House Painter and it seems Maria had given birth to one other child who had sadly died before the census was taken.

The Jones family in the 1911 census

The Jones family in the 1911 census – please click to enlarge

 

There’s a bit of a family rumour surrounding my great-great-grandmother’s family – Maria Taylor’s father is thought to have won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge race, a rowing race along the River Thames. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can prove this for my nan.

The black sheep of the Silk family

February 25, 2013

Findmypast.co.uk published half a million Crime, Prisons and Punishment records last week, in association with The National Archives.

While testing the new records with a few of my family names, I discovered that my great-great-great-uncle William Silk was tried on 1 April 1913 at the Central Criminal Court in London – otherwise known as the Old Bailey.

Here’s the record I spotted:

William Silk in findmypast.co.uk's Crime, Prisons & Punishment records

William Silk in findmypast.co.uk’s Crime, Prisons & Punishment records – please click to enlarge

It tells me that William Silk was 49 years old and a Post Office Overseer. He was accused of stealing postal packets and postal orders to the value of £1. 10s. 6d., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months hard labour at Wormwood Scrubs Prison.

William Silk was the older brother of my great-great-grandfather Charles Silk, who I know also worked for the Post Office. Charles was employed as a Sorter from when he started work in 1890 to when he retired in 1931, but census records reveal that William had progressed to being an Overseer by 1901.

The 1911 census below was taken two years before William was sent to prison and shows him living with a wife and four children. I wonder how the family faired after William’s trial, and also whether it was this incident that affected Charles Silk’s progression at the Post Office.

William Silk in the 1911 census

William Silk in the 1911 census – please click to enlarge

A first wife, an unknown father and yet more questions!

December 30, 2011

Well, the marriage certificate I ordered at the end of my last post arrived and has created even more questions! Take a look…

Richard Howard and Sophia Stevens’ marriage certificate – please click to enlarge

Firstly, Sophia Stevens has no father listed. This is the first time I’ve come across an ancestor with an unknown father – I imagine it may be difficult to track her ancestral line further back, but I’m keen to have a go! Interestingly, it seems Sophia was literate as she has signed her name at the bottom of the certificate, while Richard has made a mark.

Initially, I thought Richard’s father was recorded as ‘Janus Howard’ on the far right of the certificate. However, I’ve been unable to find any Janus Howards in any census so I suspect that part of the writing may be missing, making the name look different. Take a look at the image I’ve doctored below – if a line is added between what I originally thought was an ‘n’ and a ‘u’, the name looks like it should be James Howard.

Richard Howard’s father’s name

Finally, the marriage certificate revealed that Richard was a widower when he married Sophia. This is very useful information and has helped me find Richard Howard in the 1861 census.

In 1871, Richard was living in Buntingford, Hertfordshire with his ‘wife’ Sophia (I now know they weren’t actually married at this point) and children, Jesse and Mercy. Before now, the 1861 census had stumped me as the only likely record I could find was this one:

Richard Howard in the 1861 census – please click to enlarge

Here, Richard is listed with a different wife (Mary Howard) and two children with a different surname (Salt) living in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. Now that I know Richard was a widower when he married Sophia in 1875, I could presume that Mary was his first wife and that perhaps her surname had been Salt.

I searched the marriage records for Richard Howard marrying someone with the surname Salt and found this marriage record:

Richard Howard and Mercy Salt’s marriage record

It seems Richard’s first wife’s name was not Mary, but Mercy Salt. He married Mercy in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire in 1859. Sure enough, I found a listing in the death records for Mercy Howard in 1864:

Mercy Howard’s death record

I was quite touched when I discovered that Richard’s first wife was called Mercy. My great-great-grandmother (Richard’s daughter by his second wife) was also given this name, a lovely tribute to his first wife.

Beginning the Howard hunt

September 30, 2011

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.

Ernest’s Howard line

I’ve been researching Ernest and Mercy’s families using the 1841 – 1901 censuses and have managed to trace Ernest’s Howard line all the way back to the 1841 census. Here are a couple of highlights to show you what I’ve discovered:

Ernest Howard and family in the 1871 census - please click to enlarge

The 1871 census shows Ernest living with his parents, Elijah and Marion Howard (my great-great-great-grandparents). Elijah was a Labourer and Marion a Straw Plaiter. Both had been born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Elijah Howard and family in the 1851 census - please click to enlarge

The 1851 census records Elijah Howard living with his parents, James and Ann Howard (my great-great-great-great-grandparents – phew!). James was a Chimney Sweep and Ann was a Plaiter. Both had been born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Mercy’s Howard line

I haven’t done as well with Mercy’s line, unfortunately. I’ve only managed to trace the family back to the 1871 census and have got stuck here for the moment. I’ve discovered something that has made me more convinced that Mercy was related to her husband, though:

Mercy Howard and family in the 1871 census - please click to enlarge

The 1871 census records Mercy living with her parents Richard and Sophia Howard (my great-great-great-grandparents). Sophia was from Campton in Hertfordshire, but Richard had been born in Hitchin and was a Master Sweep.

This has shown me that both Mercy’s Howard family and Ernest’s Howard family came from Hitchin and that both were employed in the Chimney Sweeping trade.

Next steps

I’ve added all of my discoveries to my family tree, but will I ever be able to join up the two Howard lines? To help get Mercy’s side back a bit further, I’ve just ordered a copy of Richard and Sophia Howard’s marriage certificate – I’ll let you know what that tells me when it arrives!

The Howard branch of my family tree

Trace your family tree in 10 steps

July 23, 2010

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a project to show family history newbies exactly how you can start researching your family tree with findmypast.co.uk. I’ve used an example from my own ancestry – my paternal Silk line – and have actually managed to trace my tree back to about 1794 using these 10 steps.

To take a look at my progress, simply click on the image below and a powerpoint presentation will start downloading.

If you then select ‘notes page’ in the ‘view’ section of the tool bar at the top of the screen, you’ll be able to see my notes along with the images on the presentation itself. Alternatively, if you wanted to print the presentation, simply select ‘notes pages’ in the drop down box under ‘print what’ and it will print both my notes and the images.

I hope you find it interesting – let me know what you think!

Searching the 1911 census for Ada Maria Howard

March 15, 2010

Now that I know my great-grandparents were alive, I can search to see if I can find them in the recently released 1911 census. I’ll take my great-grandmother Ada Maria Howard as an example to demonstrate how to find an ancestor.

I’ve selected the 1911 person search from findmypast’s census collection and have entered basic information to begin with, following the findmypast rule of thumb of ‘less is more’. I’ve entered Ada in the first name field (leaving the variants box ticked so that the search includes nicknames, middle names and initials) and Howard in the surname field.

Initial search - please click to enlarge

This search returned 314 results, meaning there were 314 Ada Howards living in England and Wales in 1911. Fortunately, I have a bit more information about my great-grandmother courtesy of her marriage certificate (featured in the post below) so was able to narrow these results down a bit.

I selected ‘redefine current search’ and added a birth year to the search terms. Ada was recorded as being 23 years old at the time of her marriage in 1926, so I’ve entered 1903 as the birth year. The search defaults to include births two years either side of 1903, a really handy tactic to avoid any age inaccuracies in the census. It’s not unusual to see a year or two shaved off of or added to ancestors’ ages in census returns – be it down to vanity, an attempt to conceal an illegitimate child or even simply that the head of household couldn’t recall the exact ages of his/her children.

Redefined search - please click to enlarge

By adding this rough date of birth, I managed to narrow the list of results down to just 27 possibilities. However, Ada’s marriage certificate had provided me with another handy bit of information – her father’s name, Ernest. So I selected ‘redefine current search’ again and then switched to ‘advanced search’ via the tabs at the top of the search screen (see below). Here I entered ‘Ernest Howard’ in the ‘other persons living in the same household’ search field.

Advanced search - please click to enlarge

This time, my search returned just three results. One of these, the top result in the image below, looked like a clear winner as this Ada Howard was living in Hertfordshire in 1911 – the same county my great-grandmother was married in 15 years later. In addition, the marriage certificate had informed me that Ada’s middle name was Maria – not matching the middle names of either of the other two search results.

Search results - please click to enlarge

To confirm that this was indeed the right Ada, I viewed the transcript – a typewritten version of the original census page.

1911 census transcript - please click to enlarge

You can see that the transcript showed me exactly what I had hoped it would; Ada Howard living as the daughter of Ernest Howard, a Chimney Sweep. If you look at the bottom of the transcript, you can also see that the address the family were living at in 1911 exactly matches that recorded on my great-grandmother’s marriage certificate – Chapel End, Buntingford. I then decided to view the original census image.

Original 1911 census image - please click to enlarge

The 1911 census is the first from which original householder schedules have survived – the other surviving censuses from 1841 to 1901 consist of the census enumerators’ summary books. This means that the 1911 census return you can see above was actually completed by my great-great-grandfather Ernest Howard – you can see his signature at the bottom right of the page. Next to Ernest’s signature, we are also told exactly how many rooms (rooms, not bedrooms!) their home had. In the Howard family’s case, there were seven people living in just four rooms.

The 1911 census return has also provided me with brand new information about Ada’s mother, my great-great-grandmother. Her name is a bit tricky to read on the census return, however it has been recorded as ‘Merey’ in the transcript. The census form also informs me that she was 40 years old in 1911 and had been married to 45-year-old Ernest for 22 years. These handy bits of information will enable me to search the BMD indexes once again, this time for my great-great-grandparents’ marriage and births. In addition, if I look over to the right of the census form, I can actually see where Ernest and Merey were both born.

My 1911 search has provided one final bit of rather shocking information. In 1911, my great-great-grandmother had given birth to an impressive 12 children but sadly only half of these had survived. The number six has been listed in the census form’s ninth column, recording the number of ‘children who have died’. The 1911 census return has provided me with a lot of new information about my family, however the most striking point is just how precarious my great-grandmother’s existence must have been!