Census Humour

Old Herts

How To


While the census returns of the illiterate were drawn up by the census enumerator, some of the returns filled in by the household were completed frivolously and in some cases the entries were copies as written. Harold Culling found the following entry on the 1881 census which Roy Stockdill posted on the GOONS and SOG mailing lists.

Dwelling: 4 Derwent Square
Census Place: West Derby, Lancashire, England
Source: FHL Film 1341889 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 3713 Folio 113 Page 4
George Zavier SEGAR   M   43   M   Preston
            Rel: Head
            Occ: Barrister In Practice
Gertrude M. SEGAR   M   30   F   Sunderland
            Rel: Wife
            Occ: Looking After Me & The Family
Mary G. SEGAR   3   F   Liverpool
            Rel: Daur
            Occ: Eating Sleeping & Talking
Robert S. SEGAR   1   M   Liverpool
            Rel: Son
            Occ: Eating & Getting Into Mischief
Jane CALLOW   W   43   F   Liverpool
            Rel: Serv
            Occ: Cooking
Ann KENNY   U   23   F   Cheshire, England
            Rel: Serv
            Occ: Nursing & Acting As Housemaid

An entry in a similar vein, posted on the SOG-UK list comes from the 1851 census of Berkshire

HO107/1692. FOLIO 219 Page 19
Parish: Reading St.Mary, Place: Borough of Reading, 69:Oxford Road
Ellis, Henry F. Head, 38 Plebeian gardener and Chartist. Born: City of Chimney Pots
Ellis, Ann. Wife, 39 Fruitful wife. Household and maternal cares. Ufton : BRK
Ellis, Mary. Dau, 15 Parents housemaid. Reading : BRK
Ellis, Ann. Dau, 13 Parents housemaid. Reading : BRK
Ellis, Henry. Son, 11 Much work and little pay. Reading : BRK
Ellis, John. Son, 9 Helps brother and plays with the others :Reading : BRK
Ellis, Charles. Son, 7. Goes to school whistling as he goes :Reading : BRK
Ellis, Thomas. Son, 3. Stops at home and plays with baby. Reading :BRK
Ellis, Edwin. Son, 4m. Nursed tenderly. Reading : BRK
In deaf and dumb column: Can hear the Church bells. Talks to her baby and wears specs when daylight grows dim.

In Hertfordshire I have come across one suspicious entry from the 1881 census.

Sampson J RUMBALL was living at Townsend Farm, St Peters, St Albans, and his live-in staff included a governess teacher, cook, domestic servant, nurse and attendant. The entry for the latter reads

Diddy DADDILUMS 7 F St Peters, Hertford, England
              Occ: Attendant (DS)

I have not seen any domestic servant (DS) that young, and neither "Diddy" or "Daddilums" appear elsewhere on the relevant CD. I strongly suspect that they put down details of their dog but can't prove it.

If you know of better census examples from Hertfordshire tell me and I can post details here.

Page updated September 2007