Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Story from the Census

Genealogists regularly use the census to search for the history of their families. Most ancestors were there to be counted providing sequential snapshots of those who were in the household every 10 years.  If you are researching a good steady family, they may even stay at the same address for decades – my grandmother, Ellen Welch, the one I wrote about in the posts on pubs and the publican, stayed at the same address on Dock Street for donkey’s years but, before Dock Street, she changed her address every census.  

What about Gran’s family? Did she get her wandering ways from them? She was born in 1878 so I looked for her in the 1881 census. There she was living with her parents and 3 older brothers on Brook Street in Edmonton. Neither of her parents was born in Edmonton. Her father, George Welch, was born in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, while her mother, Harriet, haled from Ashmore, Dorset. How had those two come in contact with each other?

According to their marriage certificate, George and Harriet, tied the knot in the town of Winchester in Hampshire in 1863. Their work must have taken them both to the town as the certificate stated that Harriet was a servant while George was a private in the 3rd Battalion 60th Rifles residing in the Winchester Barracks. 

A private in the army, that was interesting, and explained why he was far from home. I tracked George through censuses. From 1851 to 1881 he lived in either Tottenham or Edmonton, neighbouring London district, and did factory work in the rubber processing industry. 1861 was the only census where he lived in Winchester and was in the army. From the information I had, it looked like he had only served for a short amount of time and spent all of his time in England. It was interesting that there was an entry for William James Welch right after George’s entry in the 1861 census. When I was searching the Welch family I had found a branch of my Welches in the East End, the same area that William James was from. Were George and James cousins?  

 LDS film 0542685 1861 Census Winchester, Hampshire

A close up of the entries for George Welch and William James Welch (the bottom two lines) 

My research was stuck at this point for decades. So long, in fact, that it seemed like my suppositions that George had only been in the army for a short time and never left the country were the only logical conclusion. But I was wrong.

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