Ancestor not found in a census
A frequent ‘brick wall’ question is “Why can’t I find my ancestor on the night of the census?”
Here’s a few things to consider….
- The surname is completely different e.g. widow had remarried; children from her first marriage are under her new husband’s surname.
- Ages and birth places can be variable between censuses.
- Relationships shown can have meant something different when the census was taken e.g. ‘in law’ can mean stepchild, son may be grandson.
- Forename listed maybe the individual’s middle name or nickname.
- An ancestor may have been out of the country, e.g. in Scotland (would have been counted there) or stationed abroad in army, navy or merchant navy.
- People may not be where you believed them to be e.g. a family may have moved between censuses.
- Street names may have been changed.
- Sometimes street numbering did change between censuses, it does not mean that the family had moved. Check whether the neighbours are same.
- Areas may have been demolished and rebuilt.
- Name changed e.g. marriage, remarriage, foreigners may have anglicised their names or a person may have been a bigamist.
- Someone may have emigrated, check censuses for other countries e.g. Canada and America.
- Missing people may be mariners, itinerant workers, travelling families, bargemen, fishermen, navvies (rail and canal builders) or mill workers and were away on the night of the census.