The UK’s favourite fam­ily his­tory Q&A with lead­ing ex­perts

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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. 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 ances­, 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 ( freep­­neal­ogy.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

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