Henry PEARSON, Barnet, 1850's
Anthony Pearson (pearson_anthony2 @t t sky.com) of Audlem, Cheshire, writes: My great grandfather Henry Pearson indicates on 1881/1891 census that he was born in Barnet 1857. Marriage cert 1880 (Aston Birmingham) gives father's name also as Henry (labourer deceased).
No trace of either Henrys in Barnet or Herts generally in 1861 or 1871 census. No trace of Henry (born 1857) in Herts in Nat birth database. (As he named his eldest son, my grandfather, Charles Henry, have also tried looking also for Charles as a possible connection but again without any success)
Nothing of assistance on Charles Henry's birth cert
Have widened search into nearby Middlesex without any conclusive result
Any suggestions for further investigation?
The first thing I did was to look up the details from the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses and noted the following points which in some cases could be relevant, bearing in mind the kind of errors that can occur in census returns:
Henry's age gives years of birth of 1856/7 in 1881 and 1852/3 in 1891. Could there be some uncertainty about when he was born? Did he even accurately know his own age?
Henry's occupation in 1881 was as a "baker", and in 1891 as a "Horse keeper". Maybe there was a true career change but in 1881 he was a lodger and not responsible for filling in the form (assuming he could read and write) and maybe "baker" merely meant that he worked for a baker - and actually was responsible for the baker's horses or serving in a shop - but not involved in the baking of bread
Henry had died by 1901 and his wife had remarried, the children keeping the name Pearson and being described as step-children. A common problem in such circumstances is that step-children are often given the surname of the step-father, which is different to the surname they had when they were born. AT least this is clear in this instance.
Henry and his wife Mary Ann (nee Capener) were boarding in Aston, Birmingham, Warwickshire in 1881. This may have been a temporary address as by 1882/3 they had moved to Lancashire and started a family.
His Wife Mary Ann Capener and her family can be located in the 1871 census and her parents/siblings in the 1881 census. Sometimes the bride's family can suggest a geographical connection.
[The marriage certificate should have Henry's address at the time he married. You should checked who lived at this address in 1881.]
[I have similarly not checked on the identity of the witnesses of the marriage, who may be relatives.]
I agree that a straight search of the 1861 and 1871 censuses for Henry Pearson, born Barnet in the 1850's proves negative - and there is very little evidence of other possible Pearson relatives living in the Barnet area in the 1850's.
It is worth considering common problems in interpreting census returns where the name was "recorded":
During the mid 19th century many people could not read and write (Did Henry sign his own name on the marriage certificate.) The name written down by the census recorder may have phonetic and writing "spelling" errors - as far as one can talk of a correct pronunciation at that time.
There are many misread and other transcription errors in modern indexes
In some cases the several errors can occur with the same word. One place name I have looked at which was recorded as "Hoopston" in a modern online index but almost certainly was meant to be "Aspenden". (See Miles, Aspenden.)
There are a number of advanced search techniques which I used to try and find entries with such errors - such as looking at all the surnames of people living in Lancashire born in Barnet to see if any might be a possible spelling or hand writing or pronunciation error for Pearson - and the best fit (and a very poor but not impossible fit) was:
Charles Pearce was born in Barnet in 1842 and in 1861 was working as a postillion in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
"Pearson" written quickly by a tired census enumerator could loose the finals syllable as a squiggle - and be interpreted as "Pearce"
As Henry's eldest son was a "Charles Henry" could Henry have also have been known as Charles?
The age different is uncomfortably large - unless Henry was pretending to be younger
A "postillion" and a "horse keeper" both work in the horse transport area so are related occupations.
I reject this as too way out but you may need to consider cases which are significantly deviant from what you expect.
Another possibility is that the name/place of birth were recorded as Henry intended (and perhaps believed) but one or both are wrong. A child may have been born before their parents married and therefore registered under the mother's maiden name. A child may have been unofficially adopted by a relative with no paper trail. ("Not another baby to look after - perhaps Aunt Betsy, who hasn't any children will look after him"). The birthplace as recorded in the census may be the first place the individual can remember living - which is not the actual birthplace. (I have come across one case where it seems that the child was born in Hertfordshire when the mother was travelling from London to the North of England.) In addition Henry might have been a criminal on the run - living under an assumed name .
Such cases are difficult but sometimes you may be lucky, as someone mentioned in related records may have a connection with the past. His bride may have been a cousin (unfortunately the 1871 and 1881 census return for the Caperen family shows no connection with Barnet). His widow's second husband might also have a connection (I haven't checked). More importantly maybe a witness at his 1880 wedding has a connection with his past (I haven't checked this either).
Finally it may be that Henry Pearson was born in Barnet in the 1850s but the records do not exist. Perhaps his birth was never registered and either he was never recorded in the 1861 and 1871 censuses, or the census records were lost (there are a few gaps) or his name was simply recorded as initials (sometimes done in institutions such as a workhouse).
Of course it is frustrating when you come up against this kind of brick wall. I have struggled with two among my own ancestors - and am resigned to never knowing who was the father following some kind of amorous liaison in the Forest of Dean - while in the other case the father was identified (after much unsuccessful searching) through a one line entry in a massive poor law account book I found when I was looking for something completely different!
You might find the advice page I've hit a Brick Wall ... useful.
f you can add to the information given above tell me.
|Jamuary 2013||Page created|