INCOMPLETENESS OF THE CENSUS RETURNS
A CASE STUDY

In an old newspaper, we read the following letter with great interest ~

The Manchester Guardian, Wednesday, April 9, 1851

INCOMPLETENESS OF THE CENSUS RETURNS

To the Editor of the MANCHESTER GUARDIAN.

Sir, - On the last Saturday in March a census form was left at our house; I filled it up and laid it upon the chimneypiece, to be ready when called for; but, up to the present time it has not been collected. On the following Monday, I was conversing with a presbyterian minister, who up to that time had not apparently seen a form for his chapel. On Friday last I was at Heywood, when during a conversation upon the census, the difficulty of collecting returns from the factory people, whose houses are often closed during the whole day, was alluded to, and I was told that boys were in some cases employed in collecting the returns, and it was thought likely that where parties were not at once found, no second call would be made. By these remarks, I wish to call the attention of the returning officers in the importance of a comparison of the number of forms issued and returned, and to elicit from the public the fact whether or not mine is a common case.
Yours truly, JOHN WATTS 16, Rydal Mount, Waterloo Road.

Intrigued, we examined the census returns for Rydal Mount, finding the address indexed on film HO107/2232 folios 311, 312 & 334. Sure enough, John Watts was not listed as a householder at No. 16 on folio 312. However, on folio 334, which appears to be the very last page of the enumerators book, John Watts and his family are recorded living at 16 Rydal Mount, Waterloo Road.

Was this a result of John's letter to the paper? Most likely, otherwise he would have been recorded in the enumerators book in the correct place.

Moral - When searching for your ancestors on a census film and they are not at the address you expect them to be at, always check the folios that appear at the back of the book. It was fortunate that Manchester has been street indexed for 1851. Many smaller places have not been indexed.

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