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TIP OF THE DAY: How to find the missing.

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Jonesey Report 21 Aug 2011 21:31


Presumably you know what her circumstances were in 1915. I.E. Age, single, married, divorced, where she was living ect. Use that information as your starting point. Link to it any other person that she may have been sharing her life with at the time. If you are unable to find anything about her investigate the others to see whether that might provide any clues to her.

Try some of the tips on this link:

Good luck


Suzanne Report 21 Aug 2011 20:55

hi jonesey.
howdo i go about looking for my elusive g grandmother who cannot befound after 1915.x :-D

Gwyn in Kent

Gwyn in Kent Report 21 Aug 2011 19:34

Using a combination of Jonesey and Sylvia's methods
... when scrolling through hits with these methods try looking at surnames which look very unusual or unheard of.

Tall and short letters in combinations of correct placing in the same name can be displayed in very odd ways, but are worth checking.

One of my friend's most unexpected finds was from a census transcription for a surname starting Sch.... when in fact it should have been Bel......



Sally Report 21 Aug 2011 16:39

thanks joneesy

a good examle on the 1911 census it said my gran was born in hardly she was born in ardleigh

sally w :-D


PricklyHolly Report 21 Aug 2011 15:39

Another great "Tip of the Day" Jonesey!!

Jill 2011 (aka Warrior Princess of Cilla!)

Jill 2011 (aka Warrior Princess of Cilla!) Report 21 Aug 2011 15:34

Always worth trying to say - or imagine someone else saying - the name in a different accent ... if the family had moved the enumerator could easily have misheard the name.

Also try writing the surname in that spiky copperplate style - ever so easy to misread r and n and u and v and w etc.

And names that begin with a vowel - try adding an H or think about the ending of the name of the head of house and add that to the beginning of the surname. And also names that began with an H - try the same or try just dropping the H. Also worth trying different vowel sounds.

Oh, fun and games!



SylviaInCanada Report 22 Mar 2011 04:00

If all else fails

try birth year +/- 5 years, and either birth place OR place where you expect to find them

Then scroll through all the results

This works well for small villages, very cumbersome for towns .......... but sometimes is the only way.



Lynski Report 21 Mar 2011 21:08

Very interesting, Jonesey.


Jonesey Report 21 Mar 2011 08:45

There are many reasons why our ancestors do not appear in the census records where we expect them to be.

Census enumerators may have misheard what they were being told. They may have spelled names differently (Remember that there is no such thing as standardised spelling of names) or because they were human just like us they may have simply made a mistake.

The next step in the recording process is transcribing the record itself. Trying to decipher someone else’s handwriting is not always easy and often results in the record being incorrectly transcribed. Once again the people doing the transcribing are human so mistakes are made. Mistranscriptions can be very frustrating.

Here is a tip which may help you to find who you are searching for.

Type the persons forename into the census search form but leave the surname box completely empty. You can do this in reverse if you wish, entering a surname but leaving the forename box empty. Remember that people often used a different 1st name from the one they were born/baptised with. E.G. Dick = Richard, Harry = Henry, Nellie = Eleanor, Betsy = Elizabeth ect. Be aware also of common enumerators abbreviations such as Thos = Thomas, Hy = Henry, Wm = William ect

Type the persons birth year +/- 2 or +/- 5 years. Some people were not sure how old they were or they may have deliberately lied about their age to make themselves appear younger or older than their spouse. Children’s ages in census returns are generally more likely to be accurate than those of adults.

Type in their birth county/birthplace. Sometimes it pays to leave the birthplace blank because that too may have been misheard, misspelled or mistranscribed. Some people genuinely did not know their exact place of birth or may even have lied for various reasons.

If necessary use wildcards such as "*" or "?" in the surname to try to reveal a name where wrongly transcribed letters may have changed a name. E.G. Pegden, Pigden, Pigdon, Pagden. Entering P?gd* will reveal all those options plus many others if using Ancestry.

Press "Search". This will bring up a list of all the people with that name of approximate age born in that county/place. Scroll through the list (It may be a long list) and hopefully you will find your missing ancestor shown as Borne instead of Bourne or Wilks instead of Wilkes or similar. It doesn't always work but it might.

Look for patterns in words rather than names just beginning with the 1st letter of the correct name. E.G. Baldrick has 8 letters and ends 'ick' as does Coldrick. Anyone looking for someone called Tucker may well be shocked to discover how some of their ancestors were mistranscribed.

Good luck with your search.