Where is it?
Evaluating "Erroneous" Place Names
So you have found your ancestor in the census (or some other document) and it gives his place of birth. The only problem is that you cannot find it in any gazetteer or on any map. Some are real puzzlers - such as the "Hoopston" in the Ancestry index of the 1851 census which should almost certainly been "Aspenden" (see MILES, Aspenden, born c 1806 & 1851 census),
One interesting check is to use the census data base to see who else claims to have been born there.
This may reveal where the place you are looking for is, as if a lot of people are recorded as being born there this may help to identify where the place is. For instance some time ago (when the best census date available was the 1881 census on CD) I found a reference to someone living in London who was born at "Doo Little, Herts" and the way that the location of Doolittle was identified is demonstrated on the page But where is Doo Little?
Recently I had an enquiry about at "Burton, Herts" - see MILLER, Burton, [Cheshunt], Early 19th century and I decide to look to see who was recorded as being born at "Burton, Hertfordshire" in the 1851-1901 censuses as transcribed on Ancestry.
The following table shows what I found:
- Blue: I agree with the Ancestry transcription
- Brown: Original sufficiently unclear to explain differences in transcription
- Fuchia: I consider Ancestry transcription wrong, but handwriting unclear
- Red: Gross Transcription Error - which does not reflect what is written.
|1851||No one listed as being born at "Burton, Herts"|
|1861||Shadrach Butcher||1839||Burton||St Albans, Herts||Herts, ?Burton||Leading capital unclear and unlike any other capital "B" on the page||Recorded as born Streatley, Bedfordshire in 1871. No other record found.|
|1861||William Chance||1847||Burton||Lilley, Herts||Beds, Burton||Clearly different to other "Herts" on the page but "B" not clear due to enumerator check mark|
|1861||Sussanh Crosman||1810||Bishop Burton||Middlesex||Herts, Bishop's Stortford||Gross transcription error|
|1861||Willm Goodhead||1820||Burton||Staffordshire||?erbyshire, Burton||Presumably Derbyshire, Buxton|
|1861||Mary A Luck||1803||Burton||Middlesex||Hartfordshire, Burton||Surname actually Tuck, "Burton" best interpretation||Mary Tuck born Burford, Oxfordshire in 1871|
|1861||George Moulden||1801||Burton||Warwickshire||Hertfordshire. Burton||Transcript OK||Recorded as Burham, Staffordshire in 1851|
|1861||Eliza Warwick||1824||Burton Ford||Hampshire||Herts, Buntingford||Mistranscription|
|1861||John Wilson||1836||Burton||Surrey||Burton, Herts or Hants||But may be "Hants" - Both occur on adjacent pages and are very similar||Name common - no obvious match on other censuses|
|1871||Frances Bond||1828||Burton||Surrey||Herts, Burton||Transcript OK||Listed as born Burton, Herefordshire in 1881|
|1871||Mary Brown||1847||Burton||Surrey||Hants, Burton||Unambiguous "Hants" occurs elsewhere on page - mistranscription|
|1871||Abigail Coxall||1858||Bishop Burton||London||Herts, Bishops Stortford||Gross mistranscription|
|1871||William Figgis||1840||Burton||London||Herts, [Buntingford]||Very compressed squiggle - but definitely NOT Burton. One needed to know there was a place called Buntingford to read it. Poor Transcription|
|1871||Jane Gilchrist||1869||Burton Heath||London||Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire||Faint image makes it hard to read but not Burton. Poor Transcription|
|1871||Charles Gotts||1848||Burton||Lancashire||Herts, Burston:||There is a faint extra line which could be an attempt to add the "s" after the word was written. Can't really fault the Transcription||Bushey, Herts in 1861 and 1881|
|1871||Annie E Robinson||1861||Burton||Cheshire||[St]afforde, Burton||"St" badly obliterated by enumerator check mark. Someone who didn't know the names of the counties would have trouble - but definitely not Hertforde. Bad transcription.|
|1871||John Sandford||1820||Bishop Burton||Ware, Herts||" Bp Stortford||Gross Mistranscription|
|1881||T Hallam||1849||Burton||London||Herts, Burton||No obvious match found 1871 or 1891 census|
|1881||William Kelnay||1849||Burton||Essex||Herts, Burton||No obvious match found 1871 or 1891 census|
|1881||Richard Odell||1815||Burton||Bedfordshire||Herts, Birton||Definite dot over "i" so not a "u". Mistranscription||1871 records born at Pirton, Herts|
|1881||David Prestlant||1841||Burton||Buckinghamshire||Herts, Burton||1901 lists a David Prestland [mis-transcribed Prestley] born at "Purton", Herts|
|1891||Frederick Wm & Henretta Badley||1873
|Burton on Irant||Yorkshire||Derby, Burton on Trent||Indexing Derby as Hertfordshire is a gross error (ditto used by mistake?) Final word definitely starts with capital "T"|
|1863||Burton Wood||Wheathampstead, Herts||Herts, Gustard Wood||They were living at Gustard Wood - and the words Gustard Wood occurs 15 times on the page (including the page heading) and still the transcriber can't get it right.|
|1891||Catherine Elridge||1842||North Burton||Hatfield, Herts||[Yor]ks, North Burton||Initial part of the county is not very clear - but "Herts" occurs about 10 times on the page so the county can be clearly seen not to be Hertfordshire. Another "[Yor]ks" mentions a large town which is definitely in Yorkshire. (also wrongly indexed as Hertfordshire).|
|1891||Samuel Flowe||1856||Burton Wood||London||Bulish Wood, Herts||No great difficulty in reading and definitely not "Burton". Have been unable to identify it. "Herts" was rewritten in as an amendment - so may be wrong - or could be a mishearing of Bricket Wood??|
|1891||William Handscombe||1861||Burton||Kent||Herts, Burton||OK||1901 show there were 3 Williams of about the right age born in Herts - none near Cheshunt.|
|1891||Sarah Johnson||1851||Burton||London||Herefordshire, Burton||Very clear transcription error|
|1891||Matthew Leach||1837||Burton||London||Herts, Burton||OK||Recorded as being born at Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire in 1871 census|
|1891||Lucy Peairs||1870||Burton Hertin||London||Curtonfferts ??, Herts||Leading capital "C" is identical to unambiguous "C" on previous line. Almost certainly "ff" read as "H".|
|1891||Thomas Railton||1812||Burton||Lancashire||?Horton, [Yorks?] Byrton||Definitely unclear item - with squiggle correction? which could be "Yorks" Clearly an ambiguous entry although very unlikely to be Hertfordshire.||No obvious match|
|1891||Hannah Surrell||1831||Burton||Norfolk||Hertfordshire, Burton||OK||Not found any other census with this name|
|1891||Kate Turner||1862||Burton on Freet||London||Burton on Trent, Derby||Transcriber failed to note how "T" was written by enumerator. "Derby" may be difficult if you don't know what to expect - but in now way is it "Herts"|
|1891||Alfred Woodhead||1839||Burton||Lancashire||?Derby?, Bristow||"Derby" is a guess on my part - but the writing could definitely not be Herts. Place name not Burton.|
|1901||Emily Martin||1861||Burton Grames||Wormley, Hertfordshire||Burton Grange, Herts||Very compressed writing and second "g" very underdeveloped. Cannot fault transcription||Born Cheshunt (as Mrs Baldwin in 1891, as Miss Collins in 1881)|
|1901||Alice Showell||1873||Burton||Northamptonshire||Burton Hunt?, [Staffs]||Confused entry - was county originally left off - with ?correction "Staffs" written alongside and "Burton Hunt" the name of the place (and is it Hunt or Hert or even Kent) Transcriber's nightmare||Burton on Trent, Staffordshire in 1891|
|1901||Clara Stones||1889||Burton||Surrey||Herts Burton||Agree birth place, but surname should be Stoner.||Recorded as born at Altofts, Yorkshire in 1891|
Of the 37 "hits" only one can be shown to relate to Burton, near Cheshunt - and this was hard work to show. Mrs Emily Martin claimed to have been born at Burton Grange in 1901 - but she does not occur in earlier censuses under this name. However the 1901 census shows a stepson (of her husband) and in the 1891 census she turns up as a Mrs Emily Baldwin, born Cheshunt. Her marriage to Charles Baldwin (on FreeBMD) gives her maiden name as Collins - and in 1881 she turns up as a Miss Emily Collins, servant, born in Cheshunt.
Most of the others are clearly errors, and in the small number of cases where the census form clearly reads "Burton, Herts" it has been impossible to show any other link with Hertfordshire.
See also Problems with finding census returns
Page updated September 2007