GENEALOGY QUESTIONS ANSWERED
The UK’s favourite family history Q&A with leading experts
My ancestor goes missing from census records for four decades. Can you help me to find him?
QCan you help me trace Edward Fox Long (1837-1917), between 1871 and 1911? He appears in local newspapers before 1871, having been in court charged mostly with assault. In April 1868, he and his father appeared at the County Court, his occupation was listed as farmer. From 1871 to 1917, I can find no trace of him except the 1911 census, when he appears in the Aylsham Workhouse, Norfolk, aged 73, a former railway plate layer and single. Nigel Long, by email
AThere are newspaper reports on findmypast. co.uk showing that Edward Fox Long in Wood Norton, Norfolk, became bankrupt at the end of 1867, owing more than £700. Earlier reports described him as a cattle dealer and farmer. After his bankruptcy, he was a labourer.
Like you, I could find no sign of Edward in Britain, but I did find a Canadian census return for 1871 on ancestry.co.uk, with an Edward Long in the township of King, North York, Ontario. The record lists him as aged 32, a labourer from England, together with Honnor Long, aged 40, and William Long, aged six.
An Honor Wright had been mentioned in the Norfolk Chronicle of 13 April 1867 as the wife of William Wright, landlord of the Holly public house in Wood Norton, both of whom had been court witnesses for Edward. It was also reported in the Norfolk News of 30 October 1869 that Edward had been charged with assault by Honor Wright of Stibbard, but that the matter had been settled out of court.
The 1861 census shows Honour Wright, aged 31, with her husband William (an innkeeper) at Holley Hill in Wood Norton. In 1871, William was the innkeeper of the King’s Arms, Stibbard. He is shown as married, but there is no sign of Honour! If the Honnor in Canada is Honor/ Honour Wright, how does she come to have a six-year-old son? In the GRO indexes on Edward Fox Long in newspaper reports Ancestry, I found the birth of a William Francis Laycock Wright in Aylsham in the December quarter of 1865. The Norfolk Baptism Project ( freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry. com/~tinstaafl) lists a William Frances Wright, born on 3 October 1865 and baptised in Wood Norton on 3 June 1866, the son of William Wright, publican, and his wife Honor.
It would therefore appear that Edward went to Canada with Honor Wright and her son William between the end of October 1869 and April 1871. In the census, Edward and Honnor are shown as married, but not necessarily to each other! They then seem to vanish until Edward reappears in the 1911 census. Alan Stewart