It’s time to take the bull by the horns and research systematically. I need to come up with a proper research plan. A gentle reminder about research plans from Paul Chiddicks and Phil Isherwood has clarified my thinking. I’m going to follow Phil’s method to see if I can have more success and to try to avoid pretty shiny distractions.
Step 1 – what is my objective?
I would like to find the birth/baptism for James Saunders and confirm who his parents were.
Step 2 – timeline of known information
Looking through the information so far, I have a possible year of birth between 1845 and 1849.
- 1845 – 1891 census,
- 1846 – death certificate,
- 1847 – no source,
- 1848 – 1871 census,
- 1849 – 1881 census and 1885 marriage certificate.
The 3 census returns give a place of birth as Chelsea, Kensal Town and Kensal Green.
James’ father was recorded as James on both marriage certificates. He was a deceased bricklayer on the 1869 certificate and a labourer on the 1885 certificate.
Step 3 – gaps in the timeline
I have previously tried looking for James in the earlier 1851 and 1861 censuses without success but I didn’t realise that I haven’t located him in 1901 or 1911 (he died in 1914). These later returns will give further clues to his date and place of birth.
This research plan is already paying off!
Step 4 – brainstorm sources
I’m going to start by trying to find James in the missing census returns before looking for a birth or baptism record. This should be a further objective. I’ll use Ancestry for the census searches, FreeBMD and the GRO indexes for birth searches and Ancestry/FMP for baptism searches.
I’ve used genuki, FamilySearch wiki and FreeBMDs to confirm which registration districts and parishes my research should focus on. There are 3 possible registration districts, all volume III:
– Chelsea: included Kensal Town, existed from 1841,
– Hendon: district where 1st marriage took place,
– Kensington: district where 2nd marriage and children were born.
Step 4 – refine research objectives
To locate James in the 1901 and 1911 census returns before trying to find his birth/baptism and his parents. If I’m successful, I will then try to find him in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. I have been unsuccessful so far, so I’m hoping that with extra information I might be able to find him in these earlier returns.
Step 5 – prioritise sources
- 1901 census collection: Ancestry/FMP
- 1911 census collection: Ancestry/FMP
- FreeBMD: Chelsea, Hendon & Kensington districts 1844 – 1850
- GRO index
- Willesden St Mary baptism records: on Ancestry 1813-1906
- Kensal Green St John baptism records: in London collection on Ancestry (1813 – 1917)
- Middlesex baptisms: FMP
- 1861 census collection: Ancestry/FMP
- 1851 census collection: Ancestry/FMP
Now that I have a sensible research plan, I can start the hunt. First stop – 1901 census.