26 - Editorial: At Last - The 1901 Census

07:52PM BST - Monday, 11 June 2007

Contributed by: Jerry Green

At long last the 1901 census index is available on the internet! Since it arrived on-line, opening it up for regular use, I have endeavoured to find all the Bunting-related entries. That may sound a straightforward exercise, but it is surprising how some of the Buntings are indexed. I first collected the easy ones the Buntings, Buntons, Bimtens, Bimtins and Buntines. Then I moved on to find less obvious variations, including those which earlier emerged from the 1881 census, like Bimling, Burton or Burting and all the Bantons and Bantings (some of which are correct). I had to use the General Record Office indexes to check which were 'genuine" Buntings and which were not.
The Buntings found were marked and checked against the Bunting (on. en, in) Births and Marriages indexes. 1 then looked to find children that had died young and would therefore not be found in those indexes. Having excluded them. I set out to find what had happened to the rest? In due course I found some that would not have come to light without the GRO indexes.
For example I found some Bunters in an area where there should be Buntens. So I checked the GRO index against the names of the children Winifred. Katie. Freddy, Jenny and Elsie in the Croydon registration district. There I found Winifred Man', Kate. Frederick George, Annie Jane and Elsie Emma whose ages matched. I also found a John Bunter, born in Saffron Walden. who was a painter and glazier. Having established these two facts, I knew he /Wto be a Bunten. Another family of Bunters also proved to be Buntens. The Christian name Latimer was the clue. The final "n" probably was a little short that made it look like a V.
At another stage in my search. I was looking for a Charles Bunting, bom in Norfolk but living in Cambridgeshire. There was no sign of the family under the name Bunting. But I eventually found them under the name Buntley!
Later I was looking for one Jacob Bunton in London. Of him there was no sign under any of the usual spellings of Bunton. However 1 did a search entering the forename Jacob and found the family under the surname Santon.
With virtually all records a hundred years ago being handwritten, I thought about ways in which 'Bunting' could be poorly inscribed. 1 duly looked under Burling (Bunting with an incomplete 'n and without the '' crossed). It led me to an Albert 1 had been looking for in Wakefield.
Having failed to find a family of Buntons in Hartlepool, I checked the forenames -which I knew - and found them indexed under the surname Buxton. Meanwhile, one of the misspellings I found in the 1881 census was Bimting, so I instigated a search (no longer laborious or time-consuming in the age of the computer) using this variation, and duly located two known Buntings in Norfolk.
There are inevitably members of the wider Bunting 'clan' who were around in 1901, but who slipped through the net of my internet search. Among the most likely reasons are a) poor handwriting, b) illiteracy in knowing - or caring - how to spell correctly, either by family heads or by the transcribing census officials, c) the related risk of officials mis-hearing a name given audibly and, of course, d) a person either wilfully or accidentally failing to be enumerated, and also not being enumerated.
If you can not find your ancestor in the 1901 census index. It is worth trying some of the above tactics!
Mary Rix

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