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By now you are wondering how we can be so sure that the Richard we have in 1891 is the same Richard in the 1841 census?

Particularly as there is so much evidence that seems to be conflicting.

  • From the physical ages of Richard noted in various census returns we have a birth year that moves from 1815 to 1817.

  • We have three different wives names, Ann, Susannah and Susan

  • Almost every census we see Richard living in a different village.

Remember, the census returns were filled in by ordinary people. And people make mistakes so do not believe everything that you read.

Also remember that the majority of working class people in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were illiterate. Not being able to read or write meant that any mistakes made by enumerators, parish priests etc. could not be understood or corrected. Also, in the early censuses, enumerators tended to round off adult peoples ages to the nearest five years.

So look for other corroborating evidence.

Check the places where people said they were born. Are these consistent in every census?

We know that William and his father Richard were agricultural labourers. They worked the many farms in the Teme River valley stretching the twelve or so miles from Lindridge in the north to Lulsley in the south. And they lived in tied cottages attached to the farm they were working at that time.

Check names and ages of children. Do these tie up? Remember that the census records people living in a particular place at a particular time. Children could be with other relatives on that day. Make allowances for this.

Parents would sometimes lie about their children's ages, particularly amongst the poorer working classes. They would say their children were two to three years older than they actually were in order to justify sending them out to work for the few extra coppers they would earn. Make allowances for this also.

Lastly, check your information with other people, distant relatives perhaps who have researched a different line to yours, but there are always areas of overlap.