I have mentioned before that when it comes to Genealogy I am fortunate to have some other family members that have done the hard work for me. Many branches of my family tree have already been explored to a certain extent. There was one significant branch that was missing; that of my Great Grandmother Simpkins. I initially put her name down as Annie in the searches I made through census records but I couldn't find her. Then I changed it to Anne but still no luck. On Ancestry a picture of a little green leaf appears if the name matches any records they have. The name didn't.
So I waited a few weeks; in genealogy there are always more things to move on to. I'm still looking for information on Great Granddad George Wright and there are the ongoing interviews with family about my Grandma Iris, as well as many many other people to research. Within the past week though, Great Aunt Ruth sent me some information confirming Anne's father was John Simpkins and she had a sister called Lily. Great I thought, now I can search for Anne/Annie in conjunction with her father.
I put in some simple searches and it still came up with nothing. I must state, probably much to the chagrin of my Aunt Ruth, that I was unsure whether she had given me the right names. [The moral of this story - never doubt an Aunt, particularly about her own mother!] As I looked back over the information I had gathered I realised Anne was definitely Annie because I discovered a wedding between Harold Emanuel Griffiths and Annie Simpkins from 1911. I've sent off for their marriage certificate but it hasn't arrived yet. I also realised that they definitely lived in Abertillery at some point. So again I ran the search, and this time a close match popped up. I discovered this!
Anney, there you are. Yes, Anney...with her whole family. So this is how they spelled Annie in 1911. Or at least, that is how the person taking notes for this particular census form spelled Annie. It doesn't help that her mother was recorded as Eliz, when I had it down as Elizabeth. Which brings me back to something I read on my friend Bill's blog once. [His blog can be found at www.westinnewengland.blogspot.com] It is also listed on the right hand side of my blog.
He mentioned how many people in previous times didn't know how to spell their own names and had never had to write them before. Therefore many names were probably spelled phonetically, or close to it. When it came to a census the person conducting the census might have no idea how certain names are spelled. All this leads to a variety of names being found on a census for the same person. If you look closely at this particular form you will notice that John's last name is "Simpkins" and Eliz' last name is "Simkins." It's a prime example of how lax some people were on the spelling!
Now that I had found Annie in 1911 and all of her family, I sent a quick message to Great Aunt Ruth to confirm it was the right one. It is - so I'm pretty sure that with the information from this form I can trace her back through the other records now.
And that is how I found Anney!