Letter E was destined to be education or Edwards (one of the names in my direct line).
I opted for education to get a bit more than a personal family history. Most of the folk in my tree are ‘ordinary’; it isn’t full of adventurers and big wigs, just ordinary people, sometimes doing extraordinary things. Often it was education that enabled people to achieve things that they would otherwise have been unable to do.
My 4x great uncle James was the son of a ship’s carpenter, and grandson of a carpenter and a net maker. His family history would suggest that he was destined to become a carpenter, but by the age of 22 he had left the small market town in north Yorkshire that was home, and married in St Pancras, London. Whether he was encouraged to broaden his eduction by his new family, or just had ambition to do something more academic is unclear, but he was very soon describing himself as a mathematician, and ran a small school on the coast of Kent.
Then there was the master clockmaker, whose origins are unknown, the Royal Marine who continued his education in military service, and of course the soldiers who were expected to carry on with their education, too.
It was more common for my ancestors to attend the local school until they were of an age to leave and find paid work. One of the bonuses of having source documents digitised is that it’s pretty easy to search school records. This can be helpful to confirm quite a lot of detail, as well as fill in some of the gaps in-between census returns.
My paternal grandfather was born in 1889 and by the time of the 1891 census had moved the village of Hemingbrough in Yorkshire. The 1901 census shows him living in Barlby, just a few miles away. However, with the help of the school admission records, it’s possible to pin down when the family left Hemingbrough a bit more closely; When grandpa started school in Selby on 26th September 1893, the address was given as Barlby Bank, so they must have moved between spring 1891 and late summer 1893. The same record confirms that this was his first attendance at school.
For a bit more informative record, which gives further insight into family fortunes, I looked at my maternal grandmother’s school record. Her first school was Heath Town infants school, where she started on 24 February 1897 and the address given was 21 New Street. She shows again at the same school on 16 August 1898 with the same address. On 4 March 1901 she appears again on the admission register: By that time she was living at 20 New Street. By the time I got this far, I was sure that there was more to the family story than this, so I looked at her brother’s school record.
On 15 April 1901, he was enrolled at the same school and the was address given as 4 New Street, indicating a move between March and April 1901.
On 1 February 1904 the same brother started school at Prestwood Road infant school, and his previous school listed as Wednor Heath. His address by this time was 15 Grove Street.
He shows again on the admission register on 14 June 1904, by which time he was living on Church Street. He left that school on 26 July 1904, the reason given that he was taken to the Cottage Homes.
On 8 April 1907 he started to attend the Heath Town junior school, whilst living at 62 Church Street, and the name of his last school was recorded as the Cottage Homes. He left the junior school on 26 July 1907, to be readmitted to the Cottage Homes.
This shows a lot of detail that would be lost if we just relied on census returns for activity. Between the 1901 census and the 1911 the school records identified at least three different addresses, as well as two admissions to the Cottage homes. This boy doesn’t appear on the 1911 census, so it would be easy to lose track of him without these hints as to what had been happening to the family. Whilst the school admission books don’t tell the whole story, they do identify problems, and point towards the right direction for further research.
There’s more, but I’ll save that for another day – I just wanted to encourage those interested in family history to look at all of the records that might give an insight; you never know when you might find a real gem.