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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > May 2018 > MAILBOX


An impressive dream of centuries of censuses created by family historians, and more views on the moral dilemma of when should we share our ancestor discoveries, and when it is best to keep quiet…


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We love reading your letters, and try to publish as many as possible. Find out how to get in touch with us on page 3

My parish ‘census’ dream

The Minister of Culture back in the 1990s asked for suggestions to mark the 2000 Millennium. I suggested a ‘Genealogy Centre for the Englishspeaking peoples’ located conveniently for all in the centre of England. The Minister’s aide asked for further thoughts which I submitted but I heard nothing more. Is it worth trying again, to see if the idea has some merit? Indeed, perhaps this is something we as genealogists could accomplish ourselves, perhaps digitally.

Let me explain.

Five families of my antecedents come from the same village in Lincolnshire, Cumberworth, and there are another six with links but somewhat more tenuous.

The village in 1801 had a population of 132, the population of England was at that time 8 million approximately. Going back to 1600 the population of the country was 5 million approximately. This, with a constant of 12,600 parishes in England, I thought it possible to create a ‘census’ record for my village of interest by trawling through the village parish records year by year from 1600 to 1800 and recording the year and readable names etc. I then placed the recordings on seven A3 sheets that I had prepared: portrait orientation, with the years 1600 to 1800 running down the left-hand side of each page, and colums labelled A to Z running across the top of the seven pages (A to B on the first sheet, C to G on the second and so on, the last sheet being W to Z). Should you wish to create your own paper census for your village, I would recommend:

• Ruling feint lines horizontally so that you can follow the chosen year of the census more accurately

• Always use pencil

• And you will need an eraser

The result will make interesting reading. The point of this letter is that, if we wished, 12,600 genealogists could create a national ‘census’ (with certain limitations, mainly the condition of the original parish records) for any year predating 1800.

I thought you might like to know just what set me off looking into the possibility of creating a census of Cumberworth people.

My 3x great-grandfather Thomas Keal married Mary Ann Snell in Cumberworth on 25 November 1803. In addition, I have a sampler which my father said was from our Lincolnshire line, done by Maria Bell who was in her 13th year in 1810. Well, we have looked high and low for Maria and she could not be found so I decided to trawl though the Cumberworth parish record.

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About Family Tree

Where are you going to take your family history this spring? From planning a trip to The National Archives to a meander down memory lane, there are so many choices... I bet there are few among us whose hearts don’t gladden when spring is in the air, and this issue we’ve got all sorts of ideas to help you get out and about and enjoying your family history. Whether you’re going to pay a visit to the archives, or plan a day out or weekend away to the places where your family once came from, it’s sure to add so much to what you know about your ancestors’ lives. It’s definitely true – the more we look, the more we learn. Have fun!