Kent England Research
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Kent England Research   

Genealogical Research in Kent, England, specialising in South West Kent

Census Errors

The following notes show just how many errors and inconsistencies there can be in the original Census returns, even leaving aside any later indexes of these. The discrepancies in the ages given for Selina Harris (previously Carter; née Wooldridge) across the various Census years, however, are quite unusually extreme. The discrepancies and errors in her stated birthplaces are not so wild, which was helpful when attempting to identify her. Nevertheless, these and other stated birthplaces do, predictably, also show some variability.

Crayford - baptism of Selina Wooldridge:-

1822 Oct 15 Selina dau of William & Susannah Wooldridge

Bexley 1841 Census

This reference to Selina Wooldridge in her family actually gives the "correct" age for her by the standards of the 1841 Census, since "15" meant (roughly) 15-19 years old:-

HO 107/480/book 4/ED 6/p.36/f.53 Bexley Heath, p. Bexley
William Wooldridge 40 Baker N (= "Not born in Kent")
Susannah Wooldridge 40 N
Selina Wooldridge 15 Y (= "Born in Kent")
George Wooldridge 13 Y
Charles Wooldridge 11 Y
Alfred Wooldridge 6 Y
John Wooldridge 4 Y
Walter Wooldridge 3 Y
Henry Wooldridge 1 Y

GRO Marriage Index - reference for first marriage of Selina Wooldridge:-

1846 Dec Wooldridge Selina (matches William Samuel Carter) Dartford 5/191

Bexley 1851 Census

This reference to Selina Carter, widow (née Wooldridge), gives reasonably correct details (albeit after alteration, apparently), as she would in fact probably have been aged about 28 at this time:-

HO 107/1607/ED 1e/schedule 68 (p.18/f.96) Bexley Heath, p. Bexley
George Wooldridge Head Unm 23 Butcher Born Kent, Bexley Heath
Selina Carter Sister Wid 30* Miller's Wid. B. Kent, Bexley Heath
Eliza Good Visitor 7 Born London, parish NK
Alfred Rowlestone Serv Unm 19 Butcher Boy Born Kent, Dartford

(*? - altered from 50? NWKFHS printed index also has "30".)

Kings Lynn, Norfolk, 1861 Census

This reference to Selina Carter, found via the national index, is "only" about 7 years out in her age (she would in fact have been about 38); the spelling of her birthplace, and the incorrect marital status given for her, are among the other errors in this entry:-

RG 9/1256/ED 5/schedule 25 (p.5/f.86) High Street, p. St. Margaret, Borough of Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Charles Wooldridge Head Widr 30 Confectioner Born Kent, Bixley Heath
William Wooldridge Son 3 Born Kent, Lewisham
Selina Carter Visitor Unm 45 Born Kent, Crafford
John C. Wooldridge Visitor Unm 25 Corn Dealer Born Kent, Brixley Heath
(plus one other "Visitor", one Servant and one Journeyman)

GRO Marriage Index - reference for second marriage of Selina Wooldridge:-

1864 Mar Carter Selina (matches John Harris) Stepney 1c/829

Bexleyheath 1871 Census

In this Census return, Selina Wooldridge, now shown with her much older second husband John Harris, seems to have aged by 20 years since 1861 and is now indicated to have been born in about 1804 (or roughly 18 years before her true birthdate):-

RG 10/879/ED 7/schedule 109 (p.24/f.131) London & Dover Road, Lilly Cottage, p. Bexley, Ecc. Dist. of Christ Church, Bexley Heath
John Harris Head Marr 77 Retired Farmer & Landowner Born Kent, Chelsfield
Selina Harris Wife Marr 66 Born Kent, Crayford
Eleanor Wooldridge Visitor 11 Scholar Born Kent, Sidcup
Sarah Price Serv Unm 23 General Servant (Domestic) Born Kent, Crayford

Sidcup 1881 Census

Here, Selina Harris, a widow once more, was clearly suddenly feeling very youthful, her stated age now suggesting a birthdate about 11 years later than her true one:-

RG 11/858/ED 4/schedule 347 (p.67/f.61) Hatherley Road, Pen y Bryn, p. Foots Cray, Ecc. Dist. of St. John Sidcup
Selina Harris Head Wid 47 (sic) Born Kent, Crayford
Isabel Wooldridge Niece 10 Scholar B. Essex, Buckhurst Hill
Elizabeth Marsh Serv Unm 19 General Servant Born Essex, Tillingham

Lambeth 1891 Census - Selina Harris with fairly accurate details for once:-

RG 12/419/ED 23/schedule 152 (p.22/f.120) 16 Woodland Road, p. St. Mary, Borough of Lambeth, Parliamentary Division of Norwood, Ecc. Dist. Christchurch
Selina Harris Head Wid 70 Living on her own means Born Kent, Crayford
Eliza Dally Serv Unm 21 General Servant, Domestic Born London, Bermondsey

Penge 1901 Census - Selina Harris seems not to have aged at all since 1891:-

RG 13/651/ED 99/schedule 63 (p.13/f.11) 186 Anerley Road, p. (etc) of Penge, Ecc. Par. of Holy Trinity Penge, Borough of Camberwell, Dulwich Division
Selina Harris Head Wid 70 Living on own means Born Kent, Crayford
Mabel E. Wooldridge Niece Unm 18 Companion to [S. ??] E. Harris Born Essex, Woodford
Eliza Daley (sic) Serv Unm 29 Housemaid, Domestic Born London

GRO Death Index

The following reference for the death of Selina Harris is relatively accurate as regards her age, being only about 3 years out (indicating a birthdate of about 1819, while she was apparently born in about 1822):-

1907 Dec Harris Selina (aged 88) Croydon 2a/201

Matthew Copus
307 Dale Street
Kent ME4 6QR