I keep talking about the importance of knowing and checking variants of a surname.
Sometimes there can be problems due to simple misspellings or not remembering some small details correctly. This was a common problem when applicants of the Old Age Pension requested a search of the 1841 & 1851 census to prove their age. Fortunately at this time the searchers were also aware of the problems that could be encountered and took this into account.
I thought it would be a good idea to give you some examples of things that we have noticed while transcribing the records for ireland-genealogy.com.
When Andrew Armstrong requested a search he said that he lived in Skerry, Co. Antrim at the time of the census. He also stated that his father’s name was Andrew and his mother was Sarah. The searcher who checked the census stated that there was no family who fitted this criteria. They did however make note that a family had been found with a father named ARTHUR. The mother’s name, the address and all other criteria matched including the fact that there was an 11 year old son named Andrew.
Mary Eliza Galbraith was found in 1851 where she said she would be, with the parents that she named but with a surname of GILBREATH.
Ellen Rocks said that in 1851 she was living in her grandfather’s house (Bernard Rocks) with her mother (Elizabeth Rocks) and her aunts (Sally, Margt, Mary, Esther, Ellen). The searcher in this case knew that despite the misspelling they had the right family when they recorded the following:- 1851 Bernard ROX married 1820, Mary-wife, Saley 30, Mary 27, Wm.25, Esther 23, Elisa 21-married 1849, Matilda 7-niece, Elinor 11 months-granddaughter.
Thanks to the detailed information given by Ellen when making the application, the mistake in the spelling of their surname in 1851 did not prevent the searcher from confirming her age.
It has to be remembered that back in 1841 & 1851, when these censuses were compiled, many people did not know how to read & write never mind how to spell their names. It is not surprising then that so many errors were made.
It’s just another one of those hurdles that have to be overcome when you’re researching your family tree!
And now we’ve introduced Soundex searching on the Ireland Genealogy search engine, you can find more options in your searches for surnames and forenames that ‘sound-alike’. Just check the ‘Soundex’ box before you search!