Where was my grandmother…

Where was my grandmother… on the night of Sunday 2 April, 1911?  She wasn’t at home with her parents and sisters, which is a surprise because she was only 13.

I know she wasn’t at home because I’ve just looked her up on the 1911 Census. An alluring and expensive way of spending an evening. I’m a huge fan of the National Archives (their podcasts are exceptional) and they have done a superb job with the census site.  I hate to think how long it took and how much it cost to transcribe those millions of lines of scrawly manuscript.  So I really cannot begrudge them their money.  I’d have happily spent an evening cyber-stalking my ancestors if I could have done it for free, and the seven quid I spent has enabled me to turn turn up some mysteries.  I think I may have just discovered an expensive new hobby.

Three things are odd about the census transcript for my great-grandfather’s household.  

  • They weren’t living where I thought they were.   They certainly owned the house on the hill both before and after 1911, so why wasn’t the family there at the time?
  • Then their youngest daughter is shown as being 26 years old in 1911.  I’m almost certain she was two or three years younger than grandma, not 13 years older.  
  • And finally, as I mentioned,  my grandmother and her brother were away from home that night.   

It turns out she was at school, and the jpeg of the entry for the school showed me a couple of other interesting things. 

  • Her 15 and 16 year old classmates had their marital status recorded, which looks decidedly odd in the middle of a list of school-girls.   The choices were “Single, Married, Widower or Widow” which is quaint in itself.  
  • One of her classmates had the same name as my godmother – so I find myself wondering if our grandmothers were school-fellows.

It would be expensively easy to click “buy more credits” again and again and five mysteries for a fiver isn’t bad going really.  But I’ll resist and savour the unknowingness.   Though I might get in touch with siblings and cousins to see what they think.

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