Festive Member Meeting

The festive meeting was a very enjoyable mixture of food, fun and finding out about breaking down brick walls. There was a very tasty spread of food brought by members and we started with the buffet and a quiz put together by Barbara Holmes. We also had a photograph competition “Who you think they turned into?” – members brought baby and childhood photos and we all had a go at working out who was who. One or two were easy to recognise, am I flattered or horrified that people worked out that I was the very plump baby photographed by Dennis Hammond?
Bridget and Judy then gave talks about the different ways that they had approached particular brick walls. Bridget spoke about a puzzling 1911 census entry that appeared to have the wrong person as head of household – the name given was that of the father not the husband. The age and rest of the family were correct but it was only when Bridget looked at the way the census was laid out she realised what the issue was: the census asks for the head of household and the owner of the land was the father, the son was hiring the house and land from the father therefore he put down the father as the head of household. How many other census entries might there be like that? We all know of 1911 census entries that record all children born of that marriage even if they are no longer at home (or even still living).
Bridget also told the tale of an ancestor who seems to have changed both her given name and family name at different times. It was a complex story with children who had no fathers on the birth certificates. She explained how she cross checked and matched known events and people with census entries including an entry for Holloway and finally came to the conclusion that the person in question had changed her name at different times: it was a tangled web but Bridget managed to untangle it.
Judy talked about an ancestor who also seemed to have changed her name at various times according to circumstance. The lady in question was born at the beginning of the nineteenth century and she seems to have been married and then left her husband and lived as if married with another man and had children by both men. The names by which the children were known seem to have varied according to who was filling in the census (sometimes the names were spelt differently as well). Judy lost sight of the lady by 1881 but could find no record of her death in the Upwell area – hardly surprising as the lady emigrated to America at the age of 81! – Judy found shipping records showing that the lady had travelled with one of her granddaughters. It just goes to show that you should never make assumptions.
Various other members contributed stories about brick walls and ways they had tackled problems.
All together a thoroughly enjoyable end to 2015.
[Margaret Lake ]

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