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Sunday, March 8, 2009

How can an Ancestor be in England and Canada census in 1871?

Bill asked:
I am searching for the date,port and ship that my ancestor: ARSCOTT, Jane arrived in Canada from Devon England in the period 1861-1871. I have found Jane Arscott on both 1871 England Census, at South Molton Devon and 1871 Canadian Census at Caledon Township, Peel County Ontario.

Jane also is listed on the 1881 census as well but not on any further census, based on my research I feel that she died here in the period after 1881 but before 1886? Applicable cemetery records and death registration are non existent.

Why she is listed on both 1871 Census I have no idea but I am absolutely certain that she was physically here for both 1871 and 1881 census.

Olive Tree Answer:

Hello Bill, You have an interesting challenge with your Jane Arscott being found on the 1871 census in two countries. The first thing you should do is find out when each census was actually taken. Was there time for Jane to physically be present on the England census and then sail to Canada for the 1871 census? If yes, that would certainly help narrow your timeframe for her immigration.

It is also important to find out what questions were asked on the England and the Canadian 1871 census returns. If, for example the England one asked who was present in the household IN THAT YEAR, then Jane may not have been physically there when the census taker came around BUT that would be proof she was there in 1871. This would narrow her timeline for immigration.

I had a look online and found that the 1871 census for England was taken on the night of 2 April 1871. Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a few days before the census night and the household members were required to complete the forms themselves. The next day, the enumerators collected the completed forms. All of the details from the individual forms were copied into enumerators’ books. One of the questions asked was the name of each person who spent the night of 2 April in the house. So presumably your Jane Arscott was physically in Devon England in April 1871. The only problem I have with accepting this is that the original census schedules that were completed by household members were destroyed and only the copied Enumerator's books survived. Mistakes happen. So - was Jane there or not?

If you have the original page for the
1871 Canada Census with Jane's name, you can look at the top of the sheet to see the exact date it was taken. The dates will vary depending on when the census taker got around to various locations.

One other thing to think about is that if she arrived after 1865, which it appears she did, then you may be able to find her in the online Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 on Ancestry.

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