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Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by Bob Spiers, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I am perplexed to discover after many years of having put to bed information about my grandparents - despite not finding them in the 1901 Census - that I should come across the following 1901 Census transcription which I am 90%+ sure is of them; but there is a mystery I wish now to share.

    Facts about my family:
    #1 All were born Birmingham and the family name Spiers was often recorded as Spires (which is how it was pronounced and undoubtedly what the Enumerator heard). The address of the Census has them living in Ladypool Road, Balsall Heath a stones throw from the family address I later knew of and to which they moved circa 1917.

    #2 My grandfather Henry Francis Spiers (known as Henry or Harry) was born in 1881 and was an Art Metal worker (aka Art Metal Smith).

    #3 He had a sister Kate born 1879. She was single in 1901 and married 1904. Before then she lodged with married brothers Henry and also (quite separately) Bertie with whom she later worked.

    #4 Henry and his wife (see #5) had their first born (also Henry Francis) in 1901. He was born 17th March (St Patricks day). In the original Census Henry (the son) was shown as 2 weeks old and that ties with the Census taken on 31st March.

    #5 Purposely held to last: Henry married Mary Ann Westbury (born 1882) on the 6th January 1901 and (known to family) was pregnant with her first born at that time. So Henry's wife in the Census should have been Mary Ann (or Mary) Spiers/Spires; but isn't.

    So who the heck is Phoebe?

    I can find no rhyme or reason for my grand mother being recorded as Phoebe which is why I disregarded this Census entry long ago. However with the build up of known facts strongly correlating with the information shown in the Census (apart from Phoebe of course) I am now of the strong opinion it is indeed them.

    Add to this the fact I have been unable to find a marriage of a Henry Spiers marrying a Phoebe and HAVE the Marriage Certificate of Henry marrying Mary Ann. I just need to know why Henry would refer to his wife Mary as Phoebe unless some sort of 'inhouse nickname' (which I doubt) or why an Enumerator would record Phoebe unless perhaps under the influence of drink.;)

    Or of course face the fact they are an entirely different family. What do others think?
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  2. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    Well according to the 1901 census, it's his wife.
  3. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    Pushing your luck again Tim? :rolleyes::D
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    I did some research after finding the census in 1901.
    Young Henry’s birth was registered as Henry Francis Spiers at King's Norton. Mother’s maiden name Westbury.
    6 Jan 1901 Harry Spiers married Mary Anne Westbury at Sparkbrook, Christ Church, Warwickshire.

    Phoebe or Phebe is obviously a big mistake. I have taken the liberty of making corrections in the Index for the Ancestry image of the census.
  5. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Yes indeed, but very Tim-idish; I expect it amuses him.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Thank you, it will I'm sure be noted, even if regarded by others as a peculiar correction, unless they have passed over the Census before, just as I did. You are of course correct with the information you post.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  7. PhilGee

    PhilGee LostCousins Member

    It could, possibly, just be that she preferred that name to those "given" to her. My grandmother was known as "Ethel" and I was about 30 before I found out she preferred that to "Alice Daisy".
  8. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    One of my relatives was Judith on her baptism, marriage and death records, and the baptisms of all her children, yet always appeared as Sarah on the censuses. It had to be the same woman, so I assume she preferred to be known as Sarah though her given name was Judith.

    Another example of a wrong name on a census, which I find quite amusing: my husband's great-great grandmother Charlotte appears in 1871 as Charles with her age in the Males column. It seems she'd taken over her late husband's work as a drover, employing 1 man, which maybe was seen as inappropriate for a woman? :confused:
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  9. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Yes that would work Phil were it not for the fact she was my much visited Grandma Spiers (known to us kids as Grandma of course) but other than my father and his 2 siblings referring to her as Mother, to everyone else - particularly the Catholic Parish Priest who, as she was house bound through incapacity would visit during my family assigned 'Granny sitting' - and greet her each time with .."And how are you today Mary"? Likewise neighbours who kept an eye on her. No a Phoebe she was not, which is why I have no idea how she came to be shown as that in the 1901 Census.

    But of course the point you and others make about people veering away from the given (and often baptised) names is common in a good many Trees, including my own. Just not I think in this case...but one never knows of course.
  10. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    My husband's late Aunt Mavis was baptised Ivy Isobel, none of her children or seven siblings was aware of this until she was in her nineties and was awarded an Order of Australia. Seems that even her parents had forgotten as they named their last child Ivy Isobel also!
  11. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I found that quite amusing Margery:)
    • Agree Agree x 4
  12. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    I have an example for the "error" side of the column - My ancestor Elizabeth Ann Martin (nee Williams) was Elizabeth Ann or Elizabeth A on her birth, marriage, and death documents as well as the 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses and the 1939 Register.

    However, for some reason she is written in as "Charlotte Ann" in the 1871 census. As per a previous discussion (her siblings at the time were listed as "Turners"), we decided that the fault was most likely the enumerator's.
  13. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    He's obviously going to use a saint's name rather than one of pagan origins. I understand that quite a few parents were forced to change their choice of names for their children by the Catholic priest who baptised them. - it's possible it happened in this case.
  14. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    All you say very true and untold instances of this, even outside the catholic faith, but in this case and open and shut case she was born to an Irish born mother and baptised in the RC faith as Mary Ann.

    There was a priestly interference however but that occurred because she was 6 months pregnant at the time she wanted to be married and the Priest put a damper on marrying them although offered a life line if she attested that any offspring would be brought up in the faith. My grandfather also had to be schooled in the faith. He would not hear of this and so they were married in a C of E Church.

    As a result my father and his siblings were NOT brought up as Catholics, although Grandma like her mother before her remained loyal to the faith and attended RC mass regularly. When incapacity prevented this the Priest came to her. She told me the one who visited her when I was sitting with her was not the same as the who refused to marry them. In fact she said the 'Father' even said she was hard done by and he would just have asked for the children to be baptised in the faith and let the Lord take care of things thereafter.
  15. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry, what does that prove?
  16. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    And so you should be. This is not an occasion for you to challenge something I, my cousins, and those no longer with us knew BEYOND DOUBT my grandmother was given the name Mary Ann, was baptised as such and lived her whole life as Mary Ann? I may need to prove somethings, but my Grand mother 's given and baptismal names which all Her life she used and was so addressed throughout her life is not one of those things.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2021
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I'm sorry if you were offended, Bob, but non sequiturs are confusing for everyone. I never suggested that your grandmother was baptised as anything other than Mary Ann, however it seems perfectly possible that one or both of her parents wanted to call her Phoebe, but that the priest wouldn't allow it. It has happened in other families, so I don't think it can be ruled out.

    It's pretty unlikely that Mary Ann could be misread or misheard as Phoebe, irrespective of accent. Pet names are common and sometimes completely unrelated to the actual name - there are plenty of examples in Ancestry trees. So don't discard 'Phoebe' - it is evidence that might one day fall into place.
  18. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    For a start priestly refusals to baptise a child in the parental chosen name is not relevant to my posting. Mary Ann was 18 year she married, and (just ) 19 at the time of the 1901 Census. Her mother Bridget Westbury (nee Flynn) had four children, 3 girls (using the first of their given names) Florence 1880; Mary 1882 & Louisa 1884 and a son Henry 1886 (good Catholic intervals note) - named after his father and not to be confused with the Henry Spiers that Mary Ann married. All the children were baptised as Catholics in their parental chosen names with no priestly interference.

    Now I do not dispute the fact that priests could and did on occasion baulk at using parental chosen names if they offended the dictum of the Church, and often the priest himself. I have one such in my own tree (and posted about before in the Forum) where the vicar (C of E note) happened to be the grandfather of the girl child being offered for baptism. He refused to accept Jose Irene as chosen by his son and daughter-in-law and instead baptised her Eileen Mary. I personally think he should have been 'de-frocked' for this blatant and cruel act, but in the end the parents and the family at large, knew her as Jose Irene until she settled on plain Irene.

    So yes such things happened but just not in the case of my Grandmother. Her parents chose Mary Ann and she was baptised as such and when she married. She was known throughout her life as Mary Ann and died as Mary Ann Spiers.

    By this token 'Phoebe' remains a Census aberration and where I personally will let it lie.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. A. Muse

    A. Muse LostCousins Member

    Looking at the original there are a couple of crossings out in the entries above Henry and Phoebe. Perhaps the Enumerator was getting tired or even lazy. I note that he (or maybe even she) has taken the trouble or had the education to write the name Phoebe with the 'oe' as a ligature (or digraph). which the transcriber has not spotted on the Ancestry transcription . clip.JPG
  20. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Thanks for the 'ligature' grammatical point about writing Phoebe in its original Greek form, although I doubt Transcribers would have time (or perhaps even the inclination) to do the same. Likewise I am unable to 'type' it as such without access to the right classical font . My problem (emphasis 'my') is that Henry's wife was then, afterwards and till death they do part, Mary Ann. Its just a shame the Enumerator did not return and make another correction.

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