MILES, Aspenden, born c 1806 & 1851 census

July, 2007




Monica Pope (oldmastumpy @t of Brighton writes:  I have found a Great Grandmother [Maria Wing, nee Miles and a widow, living in Muswell Hill, Hornsey, Middlesex] on the 1851 census as being born in Hoopston, Herts but am unable to trace such a place. Has it now become something else? She had married a William Wing and moved to Muswell Hill, London.

You don't say which census index you used - but as Ancestry has indexed Maria Wing as being born at "Hoopston" I assume you used Ancestry. Looking at the image we find the following entry:

Some of the lines are feint and Ancestry is full of transcription errors - but whatever the place is, "Hoopston" is an error.

So it might be "Harpston" or "Haspston"

However if you look further down the page you find the entry for Maria's mother, Rose Miles:

This is quite clearly "Haspston" - despite the fact that Ancestry has recorded it as "Hoopstone".

I know of no such place. However if one uses familysearch to see where people named Miles lived in Hertfordshire  one finds a Maria, daughter of John and Rose Miles, baptised in 1806 at Aspenden.

So could "Haspston"  be "Aspenden"? Almost certainly yes. There was plenty of scope for errors. The place name would have been written on the household form (which was destroyed after the census was completed). As Maria was born in rural Hertfordshire in the early 19th century she almost certainly could not read or write and would not have been able to fill in the form herself. Some of her children may have been at school at the time (although the younger ones are not recorded as "scholars") and may have been able to scribble something on the form for their mother. More likely someone (possibly the census enumerator) asked questions and wrote down what they heard. This scribe was unlikely to know the names of many Hertfordshire villages - and may have had difficulties understanding a Hertfordshire accent. The information on the household form would be copied by the census enumerator into the book - with the additional hazards of copying errors or uncertainties in reading the writing. As the place name was not used in the statistics there was no motivation for the census enumerator to get it right if he was having any difficulty in interpreting was said or written.

So we have "Haspston" and "Aspenden". "Asp" and "Hasp" are interchangeable and if the "H" is dropped both have a similar written length and shape, with uprisers and descenders in the same place ("asp..den" and "asp..ton"), and no-one is going to argue about the endings "en" and "on" which are often confused.

So something which was miswritten, misheard and/or misread in 1851, and then mis-transcribed in the 21st century can result in someone born at Aspenden being indexed as being born at "Hoopston".

See also Problems with finding census returns

If you can add to the information given above tell me.


Page created July 2007