Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Ageing Process

Looking through old census returns isn't quite as much fun as it used to be. You check out some young fellow of 30 in 1841, follow him through to the age of 60 in 1871 and then fail to find him in 1881. It makes you think. Maybe that shed you've been meaning to tidy up for the last 20 years is actually going to be sorted out by someone else. Good luck to them.

The ageing process must be even more of a problem in the little Radnorshire parish of Bryngwyn. Of course time seems to speed up for all of us but in Bryngwyn it gallops along. Take Edward Williams, a 103 year old resident of the parish, who turns up in the 1881 Census. "Hearty as a two year old" the enumerator notes in the margin of the return. Check back to the 1871 Census and we find Mr Williams has aged twenty years in ten, for he was a stripling of 83 in that year. And between 1861 and 1871 the Nantmel born former agricultural labourer had already aged fifteen years.

Mr Williams died in 1882, which by my reckoning would have made him 107. His wife, being a more conventional timekeeper, informed the authorities that he was in fact 88.


Anonymous said...

His wife sounds like she was no fun at all.
Maybe living a decade with her felt like it lasted 20 years.

alan said...

The discrepancies in age is all to common when following the history of a particular person on successive census returns. It's as if many of them just guess as to how old they are. Its is also misleading when it comes to where they were born. Take for example an educated man such as Beriah Evans,later known as Beriah Gwynfe Evans(1848-1927),a well known jounalist and dramatist. Born in Brynmawr, Breconshire, in 1847, he was also born, according to future censuses, in Llangynidr as well as Nantyglo. Very confusing!