Liz Parkinson (liz.parkinson
@t btinternet.com) of Misterton,
Somerset, writes: Family lore has it that my great-grandmother,
Lucy Barnett, born in
one of 24 children. I am trying to trace them all, but as there were 3
women, all related, living in the area at the time she was born (Q2 1852),
producing children whose births were registered at Watford, it is difficult
sorting them out.
The place to start is the census and the number of children. As I read the census
Charles and Mary
Barnett had 10 children (approx
dates), Ester (1849),
George (1850), Ann (1851),
Lucy (1853), Charles (1854),
Harry (1856), Eliza (1858),
Charlotte (1863) and William
James (1866). This is a typical large family profile with normal
spaces between children
(longer as the mother ages) and few gaps. There is
no room for more than about a couple of missing live births/infant deaths. This is
the case whatever your family tradition. There is no
practical biological way that Mary could have had 24 live births. Of course
there are cases of bigamy where the husband had large families simultaneously
with two (or more) different wives - but there is no reason to suspect this.
If Lucy claimed to be one of 24 children
it may be that several families lived and grew up together.
High Street, Bushey, 1861 Census
As to which child belongs to which family you mention
George (born Q2 1856) and
Harvey (born Q4
1856). You would normally expect a minimum
of about 15 months between births - and less than 11 months would be almost
unheard of. So George and
come from different families.
Lucy already has a brother
George (1850) so the
1856) cannot be Lucy's brother. In fact the 1861 and 1871 census suggests that
George (Q2 1856) was born at
Rickmansworth (Watford registration district) and
was the son of William and
Emma Barrett. He had a brother
Charles (1854) and
sister Annie Louise (1866). The 1871 census lists
Harvey - and again he comes from a
different family - His mother was another Mary, brothers
George (1850 - but
NOT Lucy's brother) and
Frederick (1852). (His father was probably
James but I
didn't find the 1861 census entry on a quick search).
The point I was trying to make is that for most of the children
whose birth is listed in the birth register you should be able to find out who
their parents were by looking at the census returns. In addition others can be
eliminated because their birth dates are too close to the birth dates of other
members of Charles and
Mary's family to be
Lucy's brothers or sisters. Looking at the register indexes will tell you the quarter the
births were registered - but may also reveal a few problem cases - where two
births with the same name occur close together - or where there is a birth
that doesn't fit the census data (check the deaths - it may be a child that
died in infancy).
In using the indexes it is important to realise that the
reason the indexes are organised in quarters is because the manuscript books
they index are also arranged in quarters. The "3a" volume for April-June
1856 is a completely different book to the "3a" volume for October-December
1856. Your question is based on a serious failure to understand how the
births were registered and the indexes produced.
Let me emphasis that it is dangerous to rely on online
indexes without knowing what is really being indexed, and why.
Misunderstanding caused by rushing to find data online without "reading the
manual" is a very common source of beginner errors.