Sunday, January 28, 2018

"IN THE CENSUS," for #52ancestors challenge: 3 Generations of GILLESPIEs

Here we are on Week 5 of the year-long challenge of writing weekly 52ancestors/52weeks by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow.  This week the prompt is "In the Census."
Here is an 1881 England Census return which gave me 3 generations of my father's family: names, ages, birthplaces, residence address. The "do" on the right column is ditto for place of birth being Ireland for every member of this 3-generation family. This area of Walney [Walney Island] in Barrow in Furness, in north-east England, had many who were born in Ireland, now working in the shipbuilding industry or supportive industries.

However, I thought this was NOT my ancestor family when I first found it. In fact I scanned past it as the names didn't seem to match the tiny bit I thought I knew about my father's GILLESPIE family from England. This particular census of the neighbourhood ward of Walney [Island] in Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, showed the Gillespie family all born in Ireland. Well, that couldn't possibly be true - I "knew" that the Gillespies all came from England. I kept looking in England and found a few other possibilities but still, they were not particularly likely, I believed.

I took my list of  5 possibles and looked for them in the following Census, 1891. I eliminated 3 of the possibles because of the children's names - wrong group of names, wrong ages. That left me with only two possibilities.
Ohhh, and then the 1901 Census [above] in Barrow showed a Wm John married to Harriet with daughter Elsie. I knew my Aunt Elsie was the eldest of the Gillespie children. My family - very likely.

And the 1911 Census cinched it. There were all the correct names for my aunts/uncles, in the correct order. This 1911 Census in Barrow in Furness showed their birthplaces also - huge clues for me to use to research further for my Grandma's family in England. I was able to find my Grandpa's father and mother in the 1911 Census, with their birthplaces in Ireland as well.

The confusion about my grandfather's name, William John. I'd always known his name as Jack, and I assumed that was a nickname for his correct first name being John. My mistake. He was going by his second name, which became a nickname, Jack. Don't know why I didn't twig to this shift in names when I first saw the 1881 Census. It was early in my genealogy searches, and clearly I was not as attuned to variants in names at that time.

In addition - this 1911 Census was written in my Grandpa's handwriting - isn't it beautiful? I've since found his signature on my Dad's birth registration as well, confirming this is indeed his handwriting.

Treasure - one finds treasure in the Census. There are so many possible clues to use for further research. The church district listed on the Censuses, place of birth for all in the household, ages, how long married, number of living children, occupations, residence at time of Census, signatures, and more.

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If any of these are ancestors of yours, I would be happy to hear from you with your comments or corrected information. I am also very happy to share any details I might have that are not shown on this post. Contact information is found at the very bottom of this blog.

Blogger has a glitch which is stopping me from replying to your comments, but please do know that I appreciate your comments very much. You make my day! Thanks so much for stopping by to read my family blog.


Anna Matthews said...

Your grandfather did have beautiful handwriting. Oh, my goodness, I love seeing color scans of records instead of digitized microfilm. Some say it doesn't matter, just the facts, please. But I love the feeling like you've almost held it in your hands.

Celia Lewis said...

There's a reality to seeing the actual document isn't there! Thanks for commenting, Anna!


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis