Posts Tagged ‘ Scottish ancestors ’
Our resident expert Stephen Rigden, pictured below, answers your queries.
From Hilary Hillier:
‘I am having difficulty finding the birth record of my great-grandmother Lily Mary Bruce. Her name has been spelt various ways and I have a copy of her marriage certificate for 25 December 1875 in the parish of St Luke, Kentish Town in the county of Middlesex. On this certificate my great-grandmother’s name was spelt ‘Lillie Mary’ when she married Henry Thomas Hill and her age is stated as ‘full’. Her father is Edward Ernest Bruce.
I have found Lily’s residence in the 1901 census when her age is stated to be 48 years and her birth place Scotland. Her address at this time is the parish of Clapham, borough of Battersea. I also have found Lily in the 1911 census aged 59 years in the registration district of Wandsworth.
Her name on both censuses is spelt as ‘Lily Mary Hill’ with birthplace as Edinburgh, Scotland. I have spent many hours searching birth records in Scotland and the UK using Lillie Mary Bruce, and Lily Mary Bruce and even Mary Bruce, with no success.
I did find a Mary Bruce in 1851 Scotland census, however, aged 0 with birthplace as Edinburgh in the county of Fife. This record did not give other household members, however, so I am unsure if this is my great-grandmother.
I’m hoping you can shed some light on this for me.’
‘Thanks for your email about your great-grandmother. I’ve made some searches myself and can appreciate the difficulties you have experienced and can add only a little to your knowledge of the family.
Firstly, I infer from your email that you have found the family on the 1901 and 1911 censuses, but not the 1881 and 1891 censuses – as Lily married in 1875, one should expect to find those two earlier census returns too.
Here are the references for the two census returns in question:
- 1881: RG11 piece 649 folio 73 page 42
- 1891: RG12 piece 424 folio 34 page 5
You can go straight to the images in question by inputting these citations at findmypast.co.uk’s census reference search page. If you don’t already do so, I would encourage you to keep census references such as these, so you can return to the images easily in future.
In 1891, the surname has seemingly been written as ‘Nill’ but it is clearly the same Hill family – perhaps the enumerator had trouble reading the original householder’s return that he used when compiling his returns, or perhaps what appears to be an N is simply a hastily and badly written H.
In both years, the family was residing in Battersea. Both returns agree with the age data from the 1901 and 1911 censuses, i.e., indicating that Lily was born circa 1851-53 in Scotland. The description ‘full age’ at her marriage in 1875 means she was at least 21 years old and, therefore, born before 1854.
What is interesting about the 1881 census is that your great-grandmother’s name is given not as Lily but as Elizabeth. It is not commonly known that Lily is a hypocoristic, or familiar form, of Elizabeth – and, by the way, Isabella is also a cognate of Elizabeth. This means you should consider not just Lily and its multiple variations, but also Elizabeth and its own body of diminutives and variants.
The other comment I would make is that Edward Ernest Bruce does not sound like a typically Scottish combination of names – to me, the forenames shout out that he was English, or of English parentage, which is not necessarily the same thing. Perhaps the family was from the north-east, or had Scottish connections, and your great-grandmother resided only temporarily in Scotland (or not at all, but thought she was, or liked to think she was), and was not born there.
Remember that all information on census returns is based upon that provided by the individuals concerned, and accepted and recorded in good faith by the census enumerators – evidence was never part of the system. This means that much mistaken information is embedded in every census return – in the case of place of birth, people might not know where they were born, or may have forgotten, or simply given the nearest recognisable place rather than the fine detail.
Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t seem to open up as many leads as one might hope – I have checked on both findmypast.co.uk and ScotlandsPeople and not found obvious references to your great-grandmother in the 1871 or 1861 censuses for England or Scotland, nor in birth indexes for England or baptisms for Scotland (civil registration in Scotland did not commence until 1855, after she was born).
On ScotlandsPeople it is possible to search for baptisms by name of father, and this shows only one Edward Bruce having children in Scotland in the 1840s and up to 1854 – he appears to have been Edward Wilson Bruce, a hatter from Newcastle upon Tyne who married in Edinburgh in 1837. He had a number of daughters but not, unfortunately, an Elizabeth or Lily at around the right date. This negative outcome may also lean towards your ancestor not having been born in Scotland.
Finally, as I have mentioned in several earlier responses to questions, when you are baffled by not finding a birth/baptism at the expected date and place, you have to consider all the possible permutations – not just whether the person was born at a different location but, for example, perhaps under a different surname. Maybe she was born illegitimately and is registered under her mother’s name, or maybe she was born legitimately but lost her father at a young age and took the name of her step-father after her mother remarried.
Also, even the most casual glimpse at such records as are contained within our Crime, Prisons & Punishment 1770-1934 collection, launched in February this year, shows the astonishing variety of aliases which people used, for all sorts of reasons – including, of course, criminal ones. I’m not suggesting for one second that your great-grandmother was deeply involved in Battersea’s criminal underworld, of course! Remember, however, that the actions of parents are visited on their issue – if an ancestor changes his or her name, that name change most probably will cascade down through the generations of their descendants, and of course this is one of the major blocks which researchers will come across when researching their family trees back in time.
Good luck with your research, Hilary, and do let us know if you make any breakthroughs. Perhaps there is even a reader out there who will see this and recognise that you share a common ancestor.’
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We have just published the 1901 Scottish census on findmypast.co.uk
This is brilliant news for anyone tracing their Scottish roots as you can now search the 1841-1901 Scottish censuses on findmypast.co.uk. You won’t find a more complete England, Wales and Scotland census collection anywhere else.
We have newly transcribed these census records to an extremely high standard to make it as easy as possible to track down your Scottish ancestors.
It’s not possible to view the original census images on findmypast.co.uk, due to the General Register Office for Scotland’s licensing regulations.
How many Scottish ancestors will you add to your family tree today?
Search for your ancestors in the 1891 Scottish census on findmypast.co.uk
The 1891 census recorded the population of Scotland at around 4,016,000. Anyone with Scottish ancestors will be keen to search these records for new details to add to their family tree.
As with the 1841-1881 Scottish censuses we’ve already published on findmypast.co.uk, we have freshly transcribed the 1891 census records to make it as easy as possible to find who you’re looking for.
We will soon publish the 1901 Scottish census on findmypast.co.uk, marking the completion of our project to bring you the 1841-1901 Scottish census collection.
The 1891 Scottish census could bring you crucial new information about your ancestors, so it’s well worth a search, even if you haven’t been able to find who you’re looking for in the earlier Scottish censuses.
The high quality of our transcriptions makes it easy to discover the crucial details about your ancestors’ lives. It is not possible to view the original census images on findmypast.co.uk, due to the licensing regulations of the General Register Office for Scotland.
We have just published the 1881 Scottish census on findmypast.co.uk
The census recorded the population of Scotland at over 3.7 million in 1881 and we’ve freshly transcribed these records to ensure your ancestors’ details are accurately recorded.
We’ve already published the 1841-1871 Scottish censuses on findmypast.co.uk. You’ll be keen to search the 1881 Scottish census for the ancestors you’ve traced in the previous censuses. If you haven’t been able to find your ancestors in the earlier Scottish censuses, now’s the time to search the 1881 census to see if they make an appearance.
Our high quality transcriptions make it easy to discover the crucial details about your ancestors’ lives. It is not possible to view the original census images on findmypast.co.uk, due to the General Register Office for Scotland’s licensing regulations.
We will publish future Scottish census on the site in the coming weeks.
We have just published the 1871 census for Scotland on findmypast.co.uk
This means more than 3.3 million new records for you to search. We have freshly transcribed the records so that your search results are the most accurate possible.
The high quality of our transcriptions makes discovering the crucial details about your ancestors’ lives quick and easy. It is not possible to view the original census images on findmypast.co.uk, due to the General Register Office for Scotland’s licensing regulations.
This is the latest release in our ongoing project to bring you closer to your Scottish ancestors. Expect to see further Scottish censuses published on findmypast.co.uk in the New Year, following the 1841-1871 Scottish census records already added to the site.
Have you found Scottish ancestors in your family tree? If so, then the new version of the ScotlandsPeople website could hold the key to finding out more about your Scottish roots. The site has many new exciting and advanced features – read on for more information.
Tourism Minister Jim Mather officially launched the new ScotlandsPeople site on 7 September. In addition to all of the new features listed below, there are also new Catholic records, modern indexes to 2009, and a major indexing update of all current records on the site.
- Enhanced free surname search
- One character restrictions on wildcards
- Surname no longer required field in search forms
- Refine search button
- Saved search criteria
- Fuzzy searching, name variant and metaphone options for name fields
- Direct view image viewer
- Easy reporting of transcription and image issues
- Mapping of search results and images
- Advanced searching
Why not take a look today?
ScotlandsPeople centre – doors open day
On Saturday 25 September, the ScotlandsPeople centre will have free 20 minute taster sessions, talks about the records and a fantastic opportunity to walk through the centre to see the wonderful architecture and the archivist’s garden. For more information click here.
The National Archives of Scotland will be offering tours. For more information click here.
Check out the new ScotlandsPeople site today.