Answers to Questions


LONG, Sacombe, early 19th century

January, 2011




Tony Long (t-long @t of  Bognor, West Sussex, writes Kezia Long is my ggg grandmother. According to Genes Reunited, she was born in 1794 at a place listed as Scham Pound in Hertfordshire. I also have one of her sons listed as having been born  in 1822 giving the same address i.e. Samuel Long. My problem is I cannot find any reference to this place name!!

The first thing to realise is that errors can occur at all stages of family history from the time information was first recorded hundreds of years ago up on a web site such as Genes Reunited.  If you want to make progress it is important you look at the original sources and understand why they were created and what kinds of errors can occur.

Let us think about what probably happened on an early Spring day in West Bergholt, Essex,  in 1851. The census enumerator knocks on the door of a cottage to collect the household census form. He finds that, because no-one in the house can read or write, the form has not completed. He mutters under his breath, "Not another one" and realises that he will have to ask the family for details and fill in the form for them. Similar scenes are being enacted thousands of times all over the country.

So he starts with the head of household, and questions Samuel Long. Samuel confirms that he is married, aged 29, and works as an agricultural labourer. "And where were you born?" asks the enumerator. Samuel replies with a place name the enumerator has never heard of, and he write down what he thinks he heard. There is no point in wasting time asking Samuel how to spell it - as Samuel cannot read and write - and in any case as long as he has the county right, no-one is ever going to need to know what the place name really is - so why worry exactly what the place name is. The form is completed for Samuel's wife, his children and his widowed mother, Kezia Long, who Samuel says came from in the same place.

The census enumerator completed his rounds, and looks at the pile of household forms he has collected. He now has the boring job of copying the information from the forms into the enumeration books. By the time he gets to Kezia Long he is getting tired and he copies her place of birth from the household form as:

Over 150 years later the enumeration book was digitised and indexed and the above words were recorded in clear and unambigious computer script as "Scham Pound, Herts" and can be viewed on web sites such as FindMyPast, Ancestry and  Genes Reunited as Kezia's place of birth.

Having read the story of how the words "Scham Pound, Herts" got onto the Genes Reunited data base how confident are you that this is the real name of the place where Kezia was born?

If you want to check whether "Scham Pound" is a valid place you can search the whole census index for England online - and you will find that no-one was living there (good evidence that there is no such place) and only three people were  said to be born there. You already know about Kezia and Samuel Long. There was also a George Long living nearby, recorded by the same census enumerator, and George might be Samuel's brother. This is the kind of pattern you get when there is a bad error in recording the place of birth.

To try and find what "Scham Pound" should be one need to look at other records that might give a clue. If Samuel or Kezia were still alive in later censuses their place of birth would be recorded and should provide an answer. A quick search failed to find Kezia in the 1861, 1871 or 1881 census and she was probable the Kezia Long who died in 1860 in the Lexden Registration district of Essex, which includes West Bergholt (See FreeBMD). A similar search for Samuel found him in 1871 - where his place of birth was described as "N.K." - "not known". In 1881 he gave his place of birth as "Ware" which, in view of the uncertainty in 1871, may simply mean that he was born somewhere near Ware, in South East Hertfordshire.

The 1841 census contains less information but can help identify the family.  Kezia was 48, living in West Bergholt, Essex, with her husband, George (55). She was not born in Essex, and neither were the older children Joseph (20), Samuel (18) and John (12), although younger children were born in Essex.  So we now have three children who were born before George and Kezia moved to Essex - so can we find out where where they born? A few minutes search of familysearch shows that Joseph was baptised in Sacomb, Herts in 1818, Samuel was baptised in Sacomb, Herts, in 1820. Other older children were baptised in Sacomb - the earliest being 1812. So it seems that George and Kezia married shortly before about 1812.  [Note: Sacomb now spelt Sacombe.]

Looking for the marriage on familysearch we find George married Kezuah Smith in 1811 at Sacomb.

So what happened at the time of the 1851 census. Someone from the West Bergholt area who could read and write would have asked where Kezia was born. She, or her son Samuel, said "Sacomb Pound."  I don't know how locals pronounce the place name - but if the emphasis is on the first syllable and the "b" is silent it could well have been heard as something like "Sacom," "Sacam" or even "Sacham"  Whatever was scribbled on the household form (which has not survived) was then copied onto the enumeration book as "Scham"

On modern maps Sacombe Pound is the name of the road that turn off the Ware to Watton-at-Stone road towards Sacombe. The church is a charming little place right out in the fields and you can see some pictures I took of it last year on the Sacombe page of this web site.

As a double check you look up the census records for George Long in West Bergholt. In 1851 his place of birth is given as "Scham Pound",  In 1861 he said he was born in Ware, while ten years later he said he was born in Sacombe.


For a similar case see MILES, Aspenden, born c 1806 & 1851 census

where Aspenden is recorded on Ancestry as "Harpston"


For a more general discussion about errors in genealogical records see

 Problems with finding census returns and The Dangers of Internet Genealogy.


October 2011

Brian Foster (brianafoster @t writes from Brisbane, Queensland, to say Tom Long's gg granmother is my ggg grandmother named Kezia(h) Smith married to George Long. Their daughter Sarah married John Moriarty and their daughter Sarah Keziah married my Grandfather Joseph Intrepid Foster. My Dad Alexander Foster was the youngest surviving child of theirs Born 19 August 1903 in Greenwich(woolwich) I am his only son, now living in Brisbane QLd

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

January 2011   Page created