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Census Returns

The Kilted Ancestors prompt for February 2023 in line with the Annual Genealogy Challenges & Triumphs topic was in relation to Census Returns.

Just like last month’s topic on Birth, Marriage & Death entries finding your Ancestors in Census Returns can also be challenging. This could be due to the Surname being noted down incorrectly or being misspelt, the record not existing, that the person is not where you expect them to be or that the age given is wrong.

Just like last months post remember that you may need to widen the search to locate the correct entry, but bear in mind that there is the possibility that it may not exist.

Locating our Ancestors in the Census can tell us a lot about how they are progressing through life. Just by looking at the additional information provided in some of these returns we can often ascertain, if more children have been born, if they are living in a larger house, if their occupations have changed or if they have moved to a more affluent area, remember though that the content of Census returns in other countries may vary so be sure to check all columns on the page.

Taking the Census - Image Public Domain (Wikicommons)

Don’t forget to look into anyone who is living with the family as these people could prove to be family members & may well hold the key to take your tree further back.

Census returns may also provide you with information that reveals more about a particular family.

In my own tree my relatives Robert Mather & Ann Brown were said to have met at Chapmans Public House in Glenboig, Lanarkshire. Robert was from Tillicoultry & having trained in Glasgow in the Spirit trade had gone to work at Chapmans where he met Ann who also worked there.

One interesting thing that turned up in the Census was that in 1891 Roberts Father Alexander who had previously worked in the Mills in Tillicoultry was staying as a visitor with Robert Chapman in Glenboig. From research I knew that Robert Chapman was not only a Spirit Merchant but also a Dog Breeder, interestingly this return also gives Alexanders occupation as a Dog Breeder. Asking the wider family, I discovered that some had heard that Alexander had been friends with Robert Chapman, so it may have been that Alexander secured his son Robert a job with Chapmans once he had completed his training in Glasgow.

Alexander Mather - Family Collection

A Newspaper Article in 1894 reveals that Alexander is also now working as a Spirit Merchant & has his own pub in Grangepans, Bo’ness, it is therefore possible that he too could have been training in the Spirit trade with Robert Chapman in 1891.


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Robert Kerr
Robert Kerr
Apr 04, 2023

Continuing my Geneology Tree on my mum's side I have opened up another branch based on memory and diligence.

It is self explanatory and relevant to the above.

The Carluke/Carmichael Connection with the Russells.


As a young man I was taken to a cottage at Roadmeetings, Carluke, by Mum, Elizabeth Russell, to visit her cousin and his wife. These were Dan Carmichael and his wife Kate.

The rear of the cottage looked on to Roadmeetings Hospital.

This was in the 1950s but there was no electric power in the house. Mum said that Dan refused to pay the connection charge to the South of Scotland Electricity Board.

Mum told me that Dan had developed…

Replying to

What an interesting story Robert, it just goes to show how some perseverance can pay off! I think we all have these family connections that at times are hard to place.

When you mention Russells do you have a William P Russell of Airdrie in your tree?

I just love the story of Dan, it made me want to try those strawberries! He certainly seems like quite the character!

I was nodding as I read your comment about the McKays. I have carried out research for Mackies & McKies which are often mispelt & have seen McKay used for both...I feel your pain!


Interesting. I came across Robert Chapman because his wife was a Main from Airdrie. Her father was William Main, but I have not been able to work out which one. My grandfather was the great-grandson of William Main, an Airdrie baker.

Replying to

He certainly seems to have been an interesting character! Did you look at his wifes death entry as that would list her parents names? I too have Mains from Airdrie....starting with Isabella Main daughter of John Main born circa 1811 in Clarkston.

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