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1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

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1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

Postby PostedPast » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:15 pm

Does anyone know how the data recorded was verified? What penalties were issued to anyone found to have deliberately entered incorrect information?

I have a married female who declared herself a widow in 1911. The couple were living apart but the husband was still alive and died in 1914. In 1911 she was living in Sussex and he was in London

He has recorded ‘married’ on his entry.
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Re: 1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

Postby brunes08 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:40 pm

I do not know if there were penalties for misinformation. What I do know is that such a declaration is not unusual particularly for a woman in her situation. My 2xgt grandmother is described as a widow on her death certificate. Her husband had divorced her some thirty years previously but more importantly, he outlived her. So not a widow. It was probably easier to describe oneself as a widow as there was a stigma concerning divorce and couples not living together anymore for whatever reason. I have seen misinformation on birth, marriage and death certificates and census returns. Verifying all information given under any of these circumstances would be an impossible task.
Sometimes the misinformation is not deliberate. If your 'widow' hadn't seen her husband for many years, she could of course think he must be deceased. My own grandfather is described as deceased on my parents' marriage certificate. He hadn't been seen or heard from for more than twenty years so was believed to be dead.
Hope that helps you a bit.


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Re: 1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:00 pm

As a general rule, there was very little verification done for any data. It did happen - there is a whole collection devoted to Civil Service Evidence of Age (for applicants for Civil Service posts) and I'm sure I've read recently that Army officers, at one time, had to provide evidence of baptism into the Church of England etc - but don't quote me on it!

Quite why the few examples of verification requirements were like that, I've no real feeling. Possibly lots of different, but critical, reasons. Most stuff, like censuses, marriages, Civil Registration, etc, had no requirement for verification. Firstly, the sheer volume of work necessary to process such cross checks made it impractical. Secondly, the necessary documentation simply didn't exist or was impractical to get.

None of this should be taken to imply that there weren't penalties for giving false information in some cases - I don't know about censuses but at the level quoted (widowed or married) I doubt anyone cared. There are plenty of examples of deliberately false information around - fairy stories on baptisms disguising illegitimacy, ages on marriage etc. And as for the obfuscation to get round marriage to a deceased wife's sister, well... I suspect that some of it was with the connivance of the clergy, as well.

So don't be too surprised at "terminological inexactitudes". It happened.

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Re: 1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

Postby junkers » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:02 am

There was a fine of £5 for providing misleading information under the 1910 Act but is doubtful that there were any cases instituted, how would you prove it in a period when there were no passports, social security records and few people would have birth certificates to hand, sounds familiar (the Windrush scandal). Unless you claimed to be the King of 'England' people were unlikely to be checked and may have put down inaccurate information (they may have thought the information was correct as they had been told), although the recent creation of Star Wars characters (Jedi Warriors in recent Censuses) might be easier to prove.
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Re: 1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

Postby PostedPast » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:32 am

Thank you for those replies. It's pretty much what I'd assumed – althugh I wasn't aware of the £5 penalty.
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Re: 1911 Cenus fines for misinformation

Postby Guy » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:58 pm

brunes08 wrote:I do not know if there were penalties for misinformation. What I do know is that such a declaration is not unusual particularly for a woman in her situation. My 2xgt grandmother is described as a widow on her death certificate. Her husband had divorced her some thirty years previously but more importantly, he outlived her. So not a widow. It was probably easier to describe oneself as a widow as there was a stigma concerning divorce and couples not living together anymore for whatever reason. I have seen misinformation on birth, marriage and death certificates and census returns. Verifying all information given under any of these circumstances would be an impossible task.
Sometimes the misinformation is not deliberate. If your 'widow' hadn't seen her husband for many years, she could of course think he must be deceased. My own grandfather is described as deceased on my parents' marriage certificate. He hadn't been seen or heard from for more than twenty years so was believed to be dead.
Hope that helps you a bit.


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Never mind 1911, my brother in law died in 2005 and on his Death Certificate he was (I contacted the GROS and changed it) described as divorced and gave the first forename of his former wife.
The truth is he had later married my sister who died a year after their marriage. I can only assume his brother did not know of this short lived marriage
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