Tag Archives: Genealogy

Norah Newbury Inge and the 2011 Census

Completing the census form last night (I know that’s early – naughty, naughty) left me slightly disappointed with what was asked, having spent some months now looking at census documents from 1841-1911. For example, in all the censuses of the 19th century, the middle names of all the people in the household were often recorded. This can be extremely helpful to the genealogist searching for, for example, John Kingsford Inge (Inge is a surprisingly common name in Kent and Surrey). Nor was the specific place of birth recorded – again, a very useful way of checking that you have the right person. Even if the subject of your enquiry had moved halfway across the country between 1851 and 1861, you could be fairly sure ’twas he or she from the place of birth, e.g. Ickham, Kent. Now all you are required to supply is ‘England’. Good luck to our great-grandchildren when they try to track us down in a century’s time.

Thanks to cautious (ha!) use of the hints option on Ancestry, the family tree has now grown to over 2000 people. Dan regularly tells me off for researching people who are only related to me by marriage, but, if youhave ever done any research into your family tree, you’ll concur that it can become an obsession until the tree has so many twigs you can’t remember how some of them grew.

Thanks to this obsession, however, I discovered a fascinating lady called Norah Newbury Inge (my third cousin, five-times removed), the daughter of a school headmaster from Wimbledon. Born in 1900, Norah comes into view for the first time after the 1911 censusĀ  in 1936, when she returned to Britain from on the P&O ship ‘Strathnaver’. She had been working as a school teacher in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon).

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Genealogy gone mad

Having responded to a comment on our post about the Fat Aubergine, I’ve realised we haven’t written anything for a while. So sorry, dears.

Fact is, when not engaged in the enlightenment of ignorant teenagers, over the past two weeks (or is it three?) I’ve been hooked on researching the family tree. This all stemmed from my bright idea to put a small (note, SMALL) family tree in the back of the wedding album so that our future offspring will know how all the people in the pictures are related to them. Then I registered at www.ancestry.co.uk, but rather than using their tree-building programme, shoved all the data into a free programme I downloaded from www.myheritage.com.

Ancestry’s pretty thorough (on the medium price plan option) – you can access census records from 1841 to 1901 (not 1911, yet, though); birth, marriage and death index records; and, in some cases (particularly in London) marriage and baptism records in more detail. The military records from WWI are also interesting, particularly for physical descriptions of one’s ancestor. Rather more personal than census records. My most successful investigations have been into the branches of my family who lived in London. Being able to see fathers’ names on marriage records makes jumping back to the 19th century very much easier. If you can’t bridge the gap between the elderly living and the 19th century, going back is quite hard. For example, my mother-in-law doesn’t know very much about her grandparents, and so we’ve hit a brick wall, because I can’t push back into the richer census records. Similarly, but for a different reason, my great-grandfather is very hard to pin down. The perils of having a name like Edward Browne in London!

However, we’ve had wide-ranging success in getting back to great-great-great-great-great grandfathers in several branches. It turns out that I have impeccable working-class credentials, except in a couple of cases, where we go back to Kentish farmers (not sure how big an estate of 350 acres is!). So many migrated from Kent or Berkshire or Somerset to the Big Smoke to work as tailors, painters and bargemen. I’m very pleased to find that a great-great-uncle was an early motor bus driver in Brentford in 1918, just as my grandfather and great-grandfather were. Two branches owned pubs: one in Kent and one in Brentford. Fascinating, but such superficial knowledge of so many people (645 and counting!).

Of course, the Irish lot are a dead end at the moment. I don’t imagine the records in Galway would be in a particularly good state, but we’ll have to see.

So, I’m pleased with Ancestry in that it’s possible very easily to trace back six or seven generations (unless you’re beset by misspelling of names, which can be a real problem). However, I think what I need to do now is to try to build up a more detailed knowledge of the more recent generations – 645 names is wonderful, but doesn’t really mean very much.

I’ll keep you posted.

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