Varying birth places and dates of birth

+4 votes
1841 census gives estimated birth year 1806, birth place Dorset (this is where she married and had children - I believe her husband was from this area, but have not yet found his baptism). Definitely the correct person as her children are present (husband died 1840).

1851 census, still correct person as children living with her again, but family now living in London. Estimated date of birth is now 1804 and birth place is now Guildford, Surrey.

1861 census, seemingly absent.

1871 census, out of all candidates this seems to be the most likely one, but place of birth is now Stoke, Berkshire and estimated birth year is now 1811.

Death record - estimated birth year is now 1806 again.

I haven't yet located a baptism due to the birth date confusion, but I saw one in 1802 in Berkshire and another in 1805 in Chatham, Kent.

Does anyone have any advice on which information is correct? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
WikiTree profile: Fanny Dowding
in Genealogy Help by Anonymous User G2G6 Mach 3 (31.5k points)

2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

In terms of the ages, the only real outlier is the 1871 census (age 60) which puts her birth at about 1810 or 1811.

The 1841 census (age 35-39, rounded down to the nearest five years) puts her birth between 1801 and 1806.

The 1851 census (age 47) puts her birth in 1803 or 1804.

Her 1877 age at death (74 years) puts her birth in 1802 or 1803.

So we're most likely looking for a baptism sometime between 1802 and 1804.

The discrepancy in the place of birth could be an indication that she wasn't sure where she was born, which can happen when families moved around. If this is the case, then both Guildford and Stoke are likely places where she lived as a child. I would place less weight on the 1841 census, as it's much easier to get one letter wrong ("Y" instead of "N") than a whole place name.

So I searched for a Pratt family that lived in (or near) both Stoke and Guildford in the first decade of the 1800s. I found the following series of baptisms to a Thomas and Elizabeth Pratt:

If this is the correct family, then Fanny would most likely be the child baptised on 4 Jul 1802 at Stoke Poges. The record on Findmypast is from the Bishop's Transcript. Perhaps the parish register includes the first name, but these records to not appear to be available online.

Another piece of evidence that this may be Fanny's family is found in the 1851 census. Fanny Dowding is listed with her children at schedule no. 92 for Acton. On the very next page, at schedule no. 94, Sarah Pratt aged 46, a servant, born in Cookham, is listed. Thus, if the above hypothesis is correct, sisters Fanny and Sarah are living in close proximity to one another.

You might consider ordering Fanny's death certificate. You may get lucky and find that Sarah Pratt, or some other member of the extended Pratt family, was the informant.

by Nic Donnelly G2G6 Mach 6 (69.9k points)
selected by Anonymous User

Thank you for searching and finding this information. It does seem that Sarah is her sister, making her parents Thomas and Elizabeth. It sounds like she is from the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire area, and then lived in Guildford when the baptisms move to Surrey.

To slightly confuse matters, I did find this baptism - with baptism place of Chatham, Kent - not sure if it's her.

Name: Fanny Pratt
Gender: Female
Baptism Date: 31 Dec 1802
Baptism Place: Chatham, Kent, England
Father: Thomas Pratt
Mother: Elizabeth
FHL Film Number: 1469178
+4 votes
I was not able to locate her birth record either. It may be hard to verify without knowing the location or at least one of her parents names.

I did reformat her marriage citation for you and added a link to the transcript. I also relocated the England sticker. Stickers have to be below the 'Biography' header. The 'English Ancestor' sticker did not belong there. That would be used for someone who had English ancestors but they did not live in England. Example, I live in the USA but I have English ancestors so I could use that sticker.

I would suggest searching any relatives that you know are connected to her. Her husband, children you may be able to get a hint doing that. Try googling them and you may find something that can help your search. I did notice that on her marriage transcript, John and Mary Marshall were the witnesses.

Good luck, I hope that you are able to find more information. One of our other great Wiki's may be able to find more.
by Laura DeSpain G2G6 Pilot (405k points)

The 'English Ancestor' sticker ... would be used for someone who had English ancestors but they did not live in England.

I'm wondering where this information came from? On the page for the sticker ( it says "This template can be used by anybody with English ancestors." I live in England and was born in England but I have the sticker on my own profile. The reason I added it was because when I only had the stickers for Italian Roots and Irish Roots I felt that failed to recognise the fact that most of my ancestors were actually English.

Adding stickers to your own profiles is different than adding them to an England profile. We would not add a sticker on their profiles that said they had English Ancestors. We would add the sticker that states 'Name was born in England' or 'Name was born in Norfolk, England'. We would not add the ancestor sticker to those profiles too.

I did not mean that members could not add the 'ancestor' sticker to their own profile. I understand why you have both on your own profile. We can choose whichever stickers and, however many we want to put on our own profiles. 

I hope that I explained more clearly. I was not thinking about personal profiles when I answered above. Thank you, for asking so that no one else misunderstands.  I would not want people thinking they could not add the stickers to their own profiles. smiley

Thanks for the clarification Laura, I completely agree with you about the distinction between personal profiles and other profiles.

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