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Family History 4 All

 Learn how to trace YOUR family tree.

Newsletter No.11 – August 2007.

Join Genes Reunited - the UK’s no.1 family tree and genealogy site

Family Tree Maker UK Edition 2006

1. Our welcome message.

2. Featured Article – How the Census started and why it's a great resource for the family historian

3. Help wanted - Need any help?

4. Latest news from www.Ancestry.co.uk

5. Next month’s article.


Dear Subscriber,

I hope this message finds you all in good health. If you have an article or amusing story to share with us then please don’t be afraid to send it for publication…you can remain anonymous if you prefer but we want you all to feel you can contribute if you want to. Just send an email with the words ‘Newsletter item’ in the subject box. And we will include it at the first opportunity, subject to editing, if necessary of course.

Due to some technical difficulties (mainly links not working properly), we have decided that future newsletters will be 'Online only'. We hope this does not spoil your enjoyment of our newsletter.

Here's the link to the archives so you can refer to previous issues:

2. How the Census started...

Does history  repeat itself?

The census proves that it does! The first modern census of 1801 was called amidst fears that Britain's growing population would outstrip the country's supply of food - and 200 years later countryside and food are as topical as ever.

Food Census

Over the centuries there have been many attempts to gather information on what crops are being grown and animals raised. This information is important for different reasons at different times as you will find out………..

1066 William the Conqueror defeats King Harold at the Battle of Hastings …….. some years later, King Canute of Denmark and King Olaf of Norway are threatening to invade England, William decides to try and stop them by offering money which he intends to get by taxing his subjects. To find out how much tax he could expect to raise he conducted a survey.

1085 The 'Doomsday Survey' was undertaken, it was a huge task which took two years to complete and listed details of land and livestock held by the king and his tenants. It included probably the first agricultural census undertaken in this country, although livestock figures have only survived for a few counties. It is possible that William intended his survey to be the first of many, but he died soon after. Nothing is done to collect agricultural data for a very long time………. until:

1792 Wheat is used to produce bread and so provided the basis of most people's diet. In 1792 production of wheat was not meeting demand and Britain was relying on imports. When France declared war in 1793 Britain found itself in danger of famine. The following year a poor harvest caused food prices to rocket. People were so angry that so called "bread" riots broke out in several parts of the country. The King's coach was attacked by an angry mob and the windows of 10 Downing Street were smashed.

1801 The first population census takes place. Between 1795 - 1803 Clergymen were given the job of collecting acreages of crops being grown in their local area - many did not want to do this though, so although information began to be collected over the next few years it varied a lot from county to county.

1844 Over the next few years agricultural questionnaires were carried out but while they were successful in Scotland and Ireland, England did not produce a good response.

1864 Parliament agreed to the collection and publication of the agricultural statistics of Great Britain and in 1865 voted £10,000 to cover the cost.

1866 A questionnaire was sent by post to farmers and collected by officers of the Inland Revenue. The first census took place on the 25th of June 1866 and was the first to cover Great Britain although some farms, particularly in the South and Eastern counties of England refused to take part. Estimates were made for these areas. It took 10 years for the response rate to reach a satisfactory level.

1939 Start of the Second World War. The census continues during the war years providing the government with essential information about the amount of food being produced. Quarterly returns were started in December 1939 mainly to obtain livestock numbers. It also shows changes in agriculture which were direct results of the war.

1973 The UK joins the European Union. Census data is supplied to the Union to assist with forward policy planning.

2000 From 1995, to cut down on paperwork for farmers, not all holdings receive a census form. In June 2000 however a census of all agricultural holdings takes place. The data gathered is published on the Internet and also used to answer questions from a huge cross section of customers including ministers, students and members of the farming industry. The agricultural census continues to provide valuable information on the types and areas of crops being grown, animals reared and the numbers of people working in agriculture.

There have been great changes in the census itself over the last two centuries - from, at times controversial questions on the forms, to the methods of collecting, storing, processing and assessing the information.

The census is rich in history - both in the questions and the answers. They reveal the changes that have taken place during what is regarded as the biggest upheaval of the population in Britain's history.

200 Years of the Modern Census:

March 10th 2001 marks the bicentenary of the Census in Britain. For 200 years the Census has been the
cornerstone of planning in Britain. The first Modern  Census in 1801 was taken amidst fears that Britain’s growing population might outstrip the country’s supply of food. It asked five questions and counted 10 million people living in two million households.

In comparison, the 2001 Census, which takes place on the 29th April, will count almost 60 million people who live in approximately twenty four million households. It will ask 40 questions and generate 2 billion bits of information to inform more than £50 billion of public spending each year.

Two centuries of census taking have produced a record of remarkable changes in British society. In 1991, 90% of the population lived in urban areas compared with just 16% in 1831. The average size of households has fallen by half in 100 years from 4.6 persons in 1901 to approximately 2.4 persons today. And we are living much longer: in 1821 almost half of the population was under 20 years of age compared with just over a quarter under 20 years of age today.


Britain was not the first to start counting. The Babylonians and the Chinese collected statistics about their people for military and taxation purposes. The Egyptians used Census information to help plan the building of the Pyramids. According to St. Luke, a Roman census ordered by Caesar Augustus brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

Within Britain, England is often thought to have taken the first Census when the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086. But it was, in fact, Scotland that led the way with the Gaelic document, ‘Senchus fer n’Alba’ which was put together in the 7th century. Regular Census taking began in Britain in 1801.


In more modern times many countries took censuses before Britain. Quebec completed one as early as 1666; Iceland in 1703, Sweden in 1749 and Germany soon followed. In the United States census taking was delayed until 1790 because of religious opposition. People feared that a census might incur the wrath of God because a census of the Israelites ordered by King David was followed by a plague which killed 70,000 people.

This view was used as an argument against census taking in Britain when a Bill was introduced into the House of Commons in 1753 to carry out an annual Census. The people of Newcastle-upon-Tyne ‘looked
upon the proposal as ominous and feared … an epidemical distemper should follow the numbering’, according to Matthew Ridley, their MP. Most opposition, however, was concerned with a fear that the results would disclose to foreign enemies the weakness of the country or that the exercise would impair individual liberty and it was defeated in the Lords.

When a second Census Bill came before Parliament in 1800 there was widespread concern that the growing population might be outstripping the country’s ability to grow sufficient food. The debate was fuelled by
Thomas Malthus’s ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’ which was published in 1798 and bad harvests in 1800 ensured that the bill was passed. The Census was taken on the 10th March 1801.


It was only in 1841 that a field force of enumerators was employed specifically to the poor’ and other leading members of the Parish took the Census. The 1841 Census was also the first one to use self-completion forms. The fact that a successful Census was taken was an incredible achievement since many
people at this time did not read or write. 35,000 male enumerators – who were supplied with pencils - recorded almost 16 million people in the 1841 Census. Women census takers first took up posts in 1891. The requirements for a good census taker have not changed much in over 150 years: “…he must not be infirm; he must be temperate, orderly and respectable, and such a person has to conduct himself with strict propriety…”

It is a testament to the organisation of the early censuses that the most significant changes in census taking in Britain since 1841 have occurred in the processing of the information and the addition of new
questions. For example, punched cards and sorting machines were introduced to the process the data in 1911 and computers were first used to process the punched cards in 1961. In 2001, Census forms will be posted back for the first time and the information will be scanned into a computer directly from the forms.

Over the years Census questions have developed to reflect changes in society. A current example is the addition of a religion question in the 2001 Census, which reflects the fact that increasing numbers of people identify themselves in terms of their religion. Historical examples include the addition of a question about the number of rooms in each household in 1891 in response to fears of overcrowding in industrial cities. A question about ‘place of work’ was introduced in 1921 as people moved out of cities to the suburbs and began to take more bus and train journeys. And the Census began to enquire about household
amenities (outside loos) after the Second World War as Britain began to clear slums and rebuild housing.


During the past 200 years, Census information has been vital for planning public policy and the great pioneers were the statisticians of the 1800s. They collected and analysed information that cast light on the health and welfare of the nation. In 1851, William Farr, a government statistician used the increasingly detailed data available in the Census to classify people by occupation and age. He determined the influence of employment on health. He concluded that “miners die in undue proportions…tailors die in considerable numbers at younger ages (25-45)” and that “the Poor Law apparently affords inadequate relief to the worn out workman”.

It was not only the top people who were passionate about collecting statistics. Enumerators too were often extraordinarily diligent. There is even an instance of a zealous enumerator actually recording people sitting on a train in a station. There was no escape. And enumerators also liked to comment on what they found. An enumerator in Preston in 1861 was shocked by the poverty of a neighbourhood in his patch and was at pains to point out one particular aspect of the privation he found there: “…namely the serious insufficiency of conveniences for the easement of nature”.

The Registrars General in the 1800s also commented enthusiastically on the social affairs of the day. In 1851, for example, the Registrar General, George Graham, justified a decision to count women engaged in domestic duties as part of the working population and not as inactive.


There are some colourful examples of women taking advantage of their position as Census form fillers. In 1881, one woman gave her title as ‘Maid of Allwork’, her occupation as ‘slave’ and a handicap as ‘scarcity of money’. In 1851, newspapers gleefully reported a rumour that a woman in Portsmouth had declared
herself as Head of the Household (which was very unusual in the 19th century, although Queen Victoria was listed as such after the 1841 census). Allegedly, the woman from Portsmouth gave her occupation as ‘mangleworker’ and listed the occupation of her husband as ‘turns my mangle’. Occupations recorded on census forms also tell a lot about an area. For example, the original Albert Square in the East End of London, (a name made famous by BBC TV’s Eastenders), may have had an even more colourful past than its current fictional existence. Nineteenth century Census records reveal that a brothel keeper headed every house and pimps, sailors and prostitutes populated The Square. There was even a Victoria Lodge.

While some might say that Albert Square remains largely unchanged some of the occupations that appear in the 19th century records are unlikely to appear in 2001. A relatively common occupation in 19th
century seaside towns was ‘bathing van proprietor’. Good work if you can get it, no doubt. Other curiosities include, ‘professional wizard’, a ‘Punch and Judy man’ from Brighton, people described as
‘generally useful’, ‘black pudding makers’ from Blackburn, and a ‘retired opium smuggler’ whose child was born in Shanghai before the family settled in Cornwall who gave his occupation as ‘retired smuggler’ actually lived in the same street as a ‘retired customs officer’.


The Census has always provoked discussion in Britain. In the Census debate of 1753, the MP for York argued that the Census would impair the liberty of the individual and he described it as ‘most effectual
engine of rapacity and repression’. A less philosophical observation was recorded in the Census returns of the 1800s by an enumerator in Campfield, Yorkshire who noted “…some very nice language was indulged in at my expense. In asking some questions I run the risk of being kicked out!”

Plans for the 1851 Census included a question about religion designed to determine whether there were sufficient places of worship to meet the demand. However, the House of Lords raised an objection to the penalties, which could be imposed on people withholding this information, and the question was asked
separate to the Census and was voluntary. The results caused considerable controversy with many concluding that the most important finding was the ‘alarming number of non-attendants.’ It is interesting to note that a voluntary religion question is included in the 2001 Census for the first time.

Before the 1951 Census the Registrar General for England and Wales, Sir George North, asked women to be more honest about their age. Many women of the time felt that questions relating to age were of a too personal nature. Information from previous Censuses suggested that women had adjusted their age upwards if they married young and down if they married later. Problem pages in newspapers and magazines were flooded with queries from distraught women, fearful that their true age would become public knowledge.

In 1971 a campaign argued that the census constituted a violation of civil liberties. A Sunday Mirror headline ahead of the 1971 Census screamed: ‘Mind Your Own Business!’ Leading up to Census Day
two young women removed their clothes in public saying that their actions symbolized how the Census would lay their private lives bare.

In the event the Census went ahead successfully. There was much discussion in 1991 about the impact of the Poll Tax on the Census return. In the end an estimated 98% of the population in England and Wales
completed and returned their forms. In 2001, particular effort was made to reach the groups in society which were under represented ten years ago. These include elderly women, babies, young men (aged 20 –29) and ethnic groups.


Whilst censuses such as the Domesday Book were originally carried out for military and taxation purposes, they now provide the detailed information needed to distribute funds between different parts of the country. Through the 19th and 20th centuries more information has been collected about the characteristics of the population such as age, marital status, economic activity, health and housing. The
information is used by government, local authorities, and health authorities to allocate public spending and plan the delivery of services. More than £50 billion of public spending is allocated each year on the basis of Census information.

The Census is the most widely used of all government data sources. Its unique value lies in the fact that it provides information at a very local level. Reliable information for small local areas has become essential to good government and allows comparison with the wider picture. The census results are also used by voluntary organisations and local communities involved in planning and delivering services and by anyone researching local issues. For the first time, information from the 2001 Census will be available to anyone with access to the internet.

In Conclusion

Countless thousands of researchers use the various census records simply to harvest names to fill in the blanks in their family trees.

You can glean much more information to help you paint a picture of what life was like for your family in years gone by.

You can 'follow' the population in it's 'tour' of Britain, desperately seeking employment in order to feed their families. At the same time you can learn much about how industries such as farming - once the countries largest employer of labour - drastically reduced it's workforce. Mainly due to the invention of larger and more economical means of producing crops, forcing whole small towns and villages to seek alternative employment.

The next time you use the census, look a little deeper. You'll be surprised what you could find. Happy hunting!

3. Help wanted

I am wondering if anyone can help me with my "Brick Wall"
James Ashwood born c.1836 in Campsall, Yorkshire, he married Harriet Taylor and they had seven children, the sixth being my great grandfather Joseph. Any info of the Ashwood or Taylor families would be greatly appreciated.
Thanking you in advance
kind regards

Our Chief researcher Carol  (My Wife!) replied to Lynette's request within minutes:

Hi Lyn,
Thank you for your enquiry to familyhistory4all.co.uk
I have passed your query to my wife Carol who is our main researcher. Here is her reply:
I am Carol the wife of Jim who you contacted regarding your brick wall. I have found a James Ashwood baptised at Campsall in November 1834 which is most probably your James.
The entry I found gives his baptism as 16 Nov 1834. His mother is Mary Ashwood. I also found the baptism of Mary Ashwood at Campsall 13 Feb 1813. Her parents are Robert Ashwood and Ann. Also there is the baptism of Anne Ashwood 9 Apr 1815 to Robert Ashwood and Anne.
I found this information on the Hugh Wallis site which lists baptisms and marriages taken from parish registers that are on the IGI. This site is very good if you know the parish and the link to it is:
When you get the home page up you need to click on the country and it will bring a page up for the county. Click on the county and it will bring up the alphabet. You need to click on C and then scroll the page to Campsall. It will tell you the years that are available and when you click on the years you want it brings a box up and all you have to type in is the surname you want and it will bring all of that name up in the years. If you have any problems just let me know.
I have not checked for Taylors but you might find them on this site. If not let me know and I will try to check them out when I am able to go to the research room.
Hope this is of help to you.

And Lynette's reply:

Hi Carol & Jim,
Just read your email - unreal, I'm wrapt thank you so much for your help. I am going to check out the Hugh Wallis site later today/tonight. You have given me a much needed boost with my searching. I will let you know how I get on.
Again Thank you very much.
kind regards
Lyn McLennan

If anyone has further information to help Lynette, then write to us here and we'll pass on your message.

If you have a brick wall, send us the details, if we can help we will! and if we can't I'm sure we have a reader who can. Send those requests now!

4. Latest news from Ancestry: www.Ancestry.co.uk


Online launch coincides with 90th anniversary of Passchaendale

  The pension records of almost one million soldiers who fought in World War One are now available online as www.Ancestry.co.uk completes its British Army World War One Pension Records collection to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the historic Passchaendale campaign.

 The collection, which spans 1914 to 1920, lists the names of many soldiers discharged due to injuries or illness sustained during or following service in World War One. The originals are held by The National Archives.
Visitors to www.Ancestry.co.uk will now be able to search the collection to discover key information including physical description, regimental number, service history, locations served, date and place of birth, former occupation, next of kin, promotions, and also the medical information relating to the disability for which a pension was granted. 
For each soldier listed there are on average 10 pages which comprise their unique set of records, making this an exceptionally ‘image rich’ historical collection.
The completion of this online collection coincides with the 90th anniversary of Passchaendale, one of the most violent battles of World War One. Beginning on 31 July 1917, the battle, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was fought for control of the village of Passchaendale (now called Passendale) in West Flanders, Belgium. The village was not captured until the following September, with more than 310,000 lives claimed.
Many of the the servicemen who were injured during the campaign and survived are listed in the collection. (further information and images are available on request).
Sergeant William Booth MM from Sussex joined the 11th Battalion Sussex Regiment aged just 19. Although he didn’t see active service overseas until 1916, he was wounded several times over the course of the war – the first just a month after arriving in France. William’s battalion took part in operations on the first day of Passchaendale, where he was one of the regiment’s 150 ranks casualties, sustaining multiple shrapnel wounds to the legs, arms and face. He was evacuated back to England never to return to France.
Corporal Alfred Lee MM from Kempsey in Worcestershire joined the army in April 1916 and went to France in September of that year as part of the Royal Tank Corps, then in its early stages of development. He was awarded the military medal for his service at Passchaendale, and later that year was wounded in the Battle of Cambrai. Despite recovering from these wounds he returned to his unit, only to be wounded again on 22 December 1917 and evacuated to England, where he saw out the remainder of the war.
Former fishmonger’s assistant Sergeant Thomas Berry DCM joined the Rifle’s Brigade aged 19, before the outbreak of war. He went to France in summer 1914 and stayed with the company for the duration of his service, including operations at Passchaendale. Here he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for taking charge of his platoon when his Sergeant was killed, engaging enemy snipers and driving off an attempted bombing attack. But nine months later, in May 1918, Berry was gassed and returned to England. He was declared medically unfit for further service in 1925.
www.Ancestry.co.uk Managing Director Simon Harper comments; “The completed British Army World War One Pension Records provide vital information on this brave group of men and are an important resource for anyone interested in researching virtually any soldier who sustained illness or injuries whilst serving in the First World War.
“The records paint a rich account of the more-often-than-not horrific experiences that many British soldiers suffered and are a stark reminder of how important it is for us not to forget those who fought for our country.”
The complete British Army World War One pension records can be viewed at www.Ancestry.co.uk
The National Archives’ head of business development, Dan Jones, said: “These First World War pension records are particularly popular but up to now you had to come to The National Archives to see them. It is great that this next stage of the digitisation – which will allow worldwide access to this important collection – has now been completed. The National Archives is committed to making more of the records it holds available to everyone, wherever they live, and working with commercial partners, such as Ancestry.co.uk, helps us to do this.”

5. Next Months main Article: Tracing wills - don't miss it!

That’s all for this month folks…see you soon.

Jim. Editor

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 Jim Ackroyd. Address: 12 Avondale Road. Doncaster. UK. DN2 6DE

Take a look at our other web sites here: http://jamesackroyd.com

 PS. For our UK subscribers. If you like to have a flutter on the National Lottery, Use this link: http://playlottery.at/A1Shopping I buy my lotto tickets online as it’s much more convenient. (It is normal to find the site closed on Wednesday and Saturday evenings GMT. Just try the next day)

P.P.S. If you like quizzes - Take a look at our new quiz site: www.quiz4free.com Hope you like it.



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