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Why has someone given different birth places?

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Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby Leigh438 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:03 pm

Hi. I have been successful in tracing my 2x great grandmother from when she was married onwards. I can find nothing for her prior to her marriage in 1877. Each census I have found her in, she has changed where in London she was born (about 1848/9)
1881 Paddington
1891 Stepney
1901 Bow
1911 Minster

Can anyone suggest an answer as to why she would keep changing where she was born, as some of these areas are not near each other. I don't know which is her real birth place (if any of these) so makes it almost impossible to find her parents.

Thanks.
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby junkers » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:10 pm

Perhaps she was unsure, Stepney and Bow are near each other, are you sure of Minster (ancestry and its poor transcription often show Westminster as Minster in transcription), Westminster is not too far from Paddington. Minster is in Kent.
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby Leigh438 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:22 pm

Rechecked the 1911 census and it says Westminster. Sorry, my mistake.
Her husband and children's birth places all remained the same in each census, just not hers.

I can see from the map Paddington and Westminster are close (ish), as are Stepney and Bow. But Paddington and Westminster are not close to Stepney and Bow.

Corrected birth places:
1881 Paddington, Middlesex
1891 Stepney, London
1901 Bow, London
1911 Westminster, London
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby peter kent » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:36 am

Can anyone suggest an answer as to why she would keep changing where she was born


"Why" is a question that can rarely be answered in genealogy. In any case, knowing why isn't going to help with what you really need to know.

Provide some identity details and people will be happy to try and help. Also please let us know her father's name from her marriage certificate.
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby phsvm » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:38 am

You also need to take into account that the records are only as accurate as the person supplying the information. You don't know that it was your ancestor who supplied the information each time.

If, for example, all the other residents of a house were born in one location they may have been uncertain where a lodger/guest/relative by marriage etc was born and the enumerator simply assumed that everyone in the household was born in the same place.

If her husband supplied the information you can be fairly sure he know where all his children were born and be fairly confident of his own birth place hence the consistency of their birth place.
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby Mick Loney » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:56 am

This is not a new phenomenom, it still occurs today. I too, have changed my place of birth on various questionaires, and I know exactly where I was born :D . My parents were evacuated from Limehouse, in the East End (of London), to Calne in Wiltshire. So I usually state Calne as my birthplace, but pedant that I am, I sometimes quote Melksham, as I was actually born in the Cottage Hospital there.

It also depends on how close they are to their birthplace when the question is asked. If they are still local, they will specify a specific part of town, like Townhill, Sketty or Uplands in Swansea, but if they are not local, they will generally answer Swansea, knowing that the questioner may not know the sub-district!
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby Leigh438 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:21 pm

Thanks for all the replies. :D

Her husband was born in West Mersea, Essex and her children in Southwark and Pimlico areas of London. The 4 censuses I have all show them living in London - Southwark, Belgrave and Lambeth. Her husband was always the head of the household until the 1911 census when she was a widow and she became head of the house.

I have noticed with other ancestors (especially those in Scotland) that their birth places change over the years, but it usually goes between the main town and a nearby village.

I haven't got a copy of her marriage certificate yet. Was just more curious if there was a specific reason anyone could think of why she would say a different part of London each time, especially when some weren't in the same area. A friend suggested today to me that it could be because she was trying 'better' herself by claiming she was from a better area than she actually was or she was trying to hide from someone or something from her past.
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby ianbee » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:31 pm

Leigh438 wrote:I haven't got a copy of her marriage certificate yet.

An alternative could be to take out a sub on SEAX, the Essex Record Office website, where they have digitised the parish registers. 24 hours for much the same cost as buying a certificate, plus you could look at any records there might be in Mersea, or anything else that interests you.
According to The Surname Society's Church Marriage Finder, the one you are wanting was at Colchester St Giles (Q3 1877)
Or some kind person on one forum or another might do a look up.
Last edited by ianbee on Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why has someone given different birth places?

Postby Leigh438 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:27 pm

Thank you :D They were married in Colchester, Essex.

I'll have a look around the Essex Records website and see what I can find.

I've been concentrating my searches on my Scottish side and now trying to go back on my English side. So far have found ancestors in Sussex, London and now Essex. It's made harder at not being able to visit the archives for these counties in person.
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