Archive for the ‘Research Progress’ Category


No wonder I got confused!

   Posted by: anne

When I initially downloaded the 1911 census entry for my great great grandfather, James Thomas Watts, I wondered why he had stated that he and his wife Emma Louisa had been married for 22 years and had four children, two of whom had died.

This branch of the family was one of the first I had started tracing way back in the late 1970’s with my uncle. James Thomas was his great grandfather.

We had found the marriage of James Thomas Watts and Emma Louisa Jones taking place on 18 July 1864 and this was followed by the births of, apparently, 12 children, ending with Charles Watts in 1892.

Each census return from 1871 to 1911 showed James Thomas living with Emma Louisa and a variety of their children.

It was only recently that I revisited that 1911 census return and puzzled again over the details given. The first clue was that fact the there were actually three children residing there on census night. This didn’t add up if two of their four children had died!

I decided to look and see if I could find any more clues. James Thomas stated he had been married 22 years so that meant he had married Emma Louisa in about 1889.  If James Thomas had married in 1889 his first wife must have died sometime before. Further investigation revealed a burial for an Emma Louisa Watts 14th October 1886, aged 38 years. So far so good!

Having found a death for James Thomas’ first wife I started a search for his remarriage. That took place on 6th August 1888 to Emma Louisa Weeks. That explained the confusion! His new wife was also Emma Louisa!

That meant that the last two children we had found, Clara Louise and Charles, were actually children from the second marriage. As yet I haven’t found any details of the two children of this second marrige that had died before the 1911 census was taken, although I hope to make progress on that during my next visit to the record office.

This experience shows that it is always worth going over previous details when new information sources become available. Had we decided to get the birth certificate of either Clara Louise or Charles Watts their mother’s maiden name would have rung alarm bells, but as we were tracking the family of James Thomas’ eldest son, James Albert John Watts, and Emma Louisa Watts was continuing to appear as the wife of James Thomas, there did not appear to be a pressing need to do so.

Our family pages will be updated shortly to reflect the latest information we have on this branch of the family (and added information for many others!).


More surprises in 1911!

   Posted by: anne

Thanks to England playing again last Sunday, I had chance for one final free session on Findmypast and managed to plough my way through the rest of the list of 1911 census entires I had worked out.

One thing that really struck me was that most of the families had lost at least one child, some several more. There were very few that still had all their children (of whatever age) still living.

I knew that infant and child mortality was higher years ago, but seeing it written down in the parents handwriting really brought it home.
As mentioned in the previous post, the column showing the number of children born alive during the marriage aslo brought a few surpises and new avenues to track down.

My great, great grandmother, Sarah Jane Martin, had had 8 children, of which five were still living! I was only aware of her daughter, Sarah Jane Maria!

So today’s task is to see if I can track down the rest of this Martin family.


1901 and 1911 Census Additions

   Posted by: anne

Thanks to the recent publication of the 1901 census of Ireland on the internet, and a time-limited offer of free access to their records during England’s matches at the World Cup, from the Findmypast website,  I have some interesting additions to many of the families that make up our tree.

These are currently being added to the database and the webpages will be updated once this is complete.

The 1901 census for Ireland enabled me to locate the family of James Theophilus Mountifield in Kimmage, Rathfarnham, Dublin. It also cleared up one query I had in that I had been trying to find Nelson James Mountifield in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, in the 1911 census but had no luck so far. I found his birth registered in Ireland as James Nelson Mountifield but I wasn’t expecting him to show up on the census as Alfred Nelson James!

If I hadn’t have found the family on the Irish census I would still be looking for Nelson and I would have probably thought the Alfred who shows up, with no other name, on the 1911 census for Portsmouth with the family,was another child. In 1911, married women had to specify the number of years married, the number of children born alive, the number still living and the numbers of those who had died. James and Kathleen had had 10 children but only 7 had survived to 1911. This matched up with other information I had.

The biggest surprise so far on the 1911 cenus for England came when I found the entry for John Howard Ross and his family. For the last 30+ years I had believed John and his wife Emily had had 7 children. Recently I found another daughter, Emily Sophia Ross, born in Dublin in 1880, dying within 3 months. A close look at the family’s census return in 1911 showed me that they had had 10 children and there were just 4 surviving. My next task? To track down those other two children if I can!

I do have a list of other families to find in the 1911 census and I have planned a visit to The National rchives in August 2010 to see if I can fill in any other gaps!