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Q You very kindly helped me some time ago in my family history research and I wonder if I could ask for your help once again. My great-grandparents, John Henry BENNETT and Maud Mary BAGLEY, were married on 23rd May 1893 at the Wesleyan Chapel, City Road, Stretford (I have their original marriage certificate). From this I calculated that John Henry was born about 1865, and as the family believed he was born in Crewe I located a birth for him on 10th March 1865 in Nantwich, Cheshire. I then hopefully located the marriage of my great-great-grandparents, Joseph BENNETT and Elizabeth LAWRENSON, who married on 10th August 1856 at St Nicholas’ Church, Liverpool. After looking at both these certificates, I noticed Elizabeth was unable to sign her name on her son’s birth certificate but did so on her marriage certificate. Should this be causing me concern? Consulting the 1871 census for Crewe, I found what I hoped were my BENNETT family at Nantwich Road. Two very unusual names are listed: ‘Blinkster’ and ‘Cadnee Thomas’. After consulting the original documents I cannot see how anyone could have come up with these names as they are so difficult to read. I then looked at the 1881 census, where I now found them on Edleston Road, but these two particular names are not listed (though I do appreciate they may have been away from home on census night). There is an Edward Thomas listed whose age ties in with Cadnee’s. Do you think these are one and the same person, and Cadnee was some sort of ‘nickname’ for Edward? Or do you think they are two completely different families?

Mrs Chiquita Sunley

A It is the transcription of the entry on that refers to the two individuals as ‘Cadnee Thomas’ and ‘Blinkster’. As you say, the entries are really very unclear. The 1871 census that you refer to includes the following family, as I read it: Joseph BENNETT, head, 35; Elizabeth, wife, 36; William James, son, 14; Joseph, son, 11; Mary Anne, daughter, nine; Margaret Eliza, daughter, eight; John Henry, son, six; Cadn[..] Thomas, son, four; […..] daughter, three. In 1881, the family was: Joseph BENNETT, head, 45; Elizabeth, wife, 44; Joseph, son, 21; Mary Ann, daughter, 19; Edward Thomas, son, 14; Arthur, son, 12; Alfred, son, eight. So in 1881, ‘Cadnee Thomas’ had apparently become ‘Edward Thomas’ and ‘Blinkster’ had changed sex and become ‘Arthur’. The Indexes to Births (Nantwich Registration District) include: John Henry, June Quarter 1865; Edward Thomas, March Quarter 1867; Edward Thomas, June Quarter 1867; Arthur, June Quarter 1869; and Alfred, March Quarter 1873. It needs to be remembered that the census information we now see are the Enumerators’ Books and not the original householders’ schedules. What has very possibly happened is that when the enumerator came to copy the entries from the schedule into his ‘E B’ he could not read what was written and made a best guess, or in this case less than best guess. The evidence certainly does appear to point to ‘Cadnee Thomas’ being ‘Edward Thomas’ and that ‘Blinkster’ is ‘Arthur’.

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