Sample tips

A few tips taken from TRACE YOUR ROOTS

Family baptisms
You might not always find a baptism where you'd expect to find it. If you have difficulty locating one, search further into the register before throwing in the towel as some families had their entire brood baptised as a job lot!

Personal possessions
A will usually mentions personal possessions only if these were left to someone specifically, but a probate inventory is often more revealing about your ancestor. An inventory will list their belongings, often room by room, and include stuff like furniture, tools, clothing and so on.

Don't confuse your in-laws with your steps!
We all know the difference between a stepmother and a mother-in-law - there aren't so many jokes about stepmothers for one thing! But up until the early 19th century the term 'in-law' was used for both, so this is something you might need to bear in mind when sorting out family relationships.

Another way to discover a father's identity
The overseer kept a careful tally of incomings and outgoings in his accounts book. This included payments made to mothers of illegitimate children and money collected from reputed fathers.

Age concerns!
It might look like it, but people weren't necessarily lying about their ages on the 1841 census. Children under the age of 15 had to have their exact age listed but anyone older had his or her age rounded down to the nearest five so you must allow for certain anomalies. For example, if a woman was 24 then she would be recorded as 20, even though she married at 16 and has an eight year old child! 

Jumping to conclusions
Unlike the later censuses, the 1841 doesn't show the relationship of each individual to the head of the household and sometimes identifying who's who in this census will be purely guesswork on your part! A man and woman living at the same address and who share the same surname could be man and wife, but they might also be brother and sister or father and daughter.

Hospital visiting
Women weren't always sent home from hospital a few minutes after giving birth! In the times when they were allowed to spend a week or two recovering from the ordeal of junior's arrival, it was common for a registrar to visit the hospital on a regular basis to record each child's birth. This can mean a birth showing up in the [General Register Office] index in the district where the maternity hospital was situated, which might have been some distance from where the child's family actually lived.

Where did they bury him?
There's always the odd ancestor who's never where you expect him to be! If you can't find his burial in the parish he died in, try the one where he was born - he might have wanted to be laid to rest near other members of his family.