On the trail of my g-g-g-granddad

Yesterday I was doing a little genealogical investigation into my paternal great-grandfather – trying to find out about his parents and any siblings. In the right area of Cambridgeshire I found six James Allens; in the 1841 census, two were living in St Ives – one born in 1833 and one in 1835, another born in 1835 and living in Ely, and two born in 1836, one living in St Neots and one in Whittlesea.

These young boys were living with their families and as I think ‘my’ James’s father was William it narrows it down to a William and Elizabeth living in Ely, and a William and Ann living in Whittlesea. The other parents were Joseph and Mary, Ann and Sneesby (yes that was his name, not a spelling mistake!) and Thomas and Ann. The forenames repeat over an over – among the six families children

  • 5 James
  • 4 William
  • 2 John
  • 2 Mary
  • 1 Ann
  • 1 Betsey
  • 1 Charles
  • 1 George
  • 1 Jane
  • 1 Moxon
  • 1 Sarah
  • 1 Thomas

Everyone of the families had a son called James, but I have to find a James with a father called William. So of the two families which fit that, I pursued them to the 1851 census. There seem to be a few more father William, son James in this census, but for various none quite fit except the original two I identified in 1841, one pair are both shepherds (which doesn’t fit with what I know of the family) the other are agricultural labourers, which does more so… I need to look at the 1861 census.

I find my g-g-grandfather James, now married to Mary (née Mary Scott) he’s a railway fireman living in Cambridge. I have extra details about him which mean I can look back to the 1851 census again… and so it goes on, round and round, checking, double checking, coming up against an incomprehensible gap… I’m sure I will find my great-granddad’s granddad some day!

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