Age is a Relative Thing

In my previous blog, What Census Records Do or Don’t Tell Us, I noted the need to systematically follow a family through the censuses in order to try to come to an accurate record of the names of family members. Ages of people can also be problematic so a systematic look at an ancestor’s ages over time through many records is a good research strategy.

Edward Campbell was a resident of Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, Canada West [later Ontario] in the 1800s who owned lots 24 and 25 on concession 7 and then lots 16 and 17 on the south side of Main Street in Thedford.1 I have placed in chronological order the sources in which I have found his age. I did not include the 1851 Bosanquet Township, Canada West Census information in this list because although taken it was destroyed or lost prior to microfilming:
1859 age 45 Bosanquet Township Assessment Roll2
1861 age 48 Canada West Census, Lambton County3
1871 age 57 Canada Census, Lambton County4
1878 age 50 marriage to Emeline Talbot [age 64 would be more consistent]5
1891 age 76 Canada Census, Lambton County6
1896 age 82 death, Forest Standard7
1896 age 80 death, Watford Guide-Advocate8

Note that the major discrepancy is his age at the time of his marriage to his second wife Margaret Emeline Talbot. The following is the information found in their marriage registration:
Edward Campbell, age 50, gentleman, widower, parents Simon and Martha Campbell, residence when married Lambton County, married Emeline Talbot, age 40, widow, parents William and Mary Talbot, residence when married Middlesex County, on 15 May 1878 at Petersville, County of Middlesex.

Note the age given for Emeline. Did Edward give an incorrect age because he was marrying a 40 year old woman? Maybe I should go back and do the same analysis for Emeline!

I am less concerned about ages that are out by a couple of years since in some cases the records may not be provided by a person who actually knew how old your ancestor was at the time. Using the age that is out by 14 years could make searching for an individual problematic in some databases. It is worthwhile collecting many sources in order to pin down a more exact “possible” age for an ancestor.

1. Bill of Sale, lot 16 and 17, Palmer’s Survey, Village of Thedford, Flora and Frederick C. Wilson to Edward Campbell, 29 May 1893, Bosanquet Township, Lambton County, instrument no. 979.
Bill of Sale, George J.Goodhue to Edward Campbell, 4 April 1860, lot 24 and 25, concession 7, Bosanquet Township, instrument no. 797.

2. Edward Campbell entry, Bosanquet Township Assessment Records, 1859, fiche no. 1, CA4)N, BOSU81, held at the Lambton County Archives, Lambton County Library, Wyoming.

3. Edward Campbell household, 1861 Canada West Census, District 2, Township of Bosanquet, County of Lambton, page 46, lines 34-41, Library and Archives microfilm C-1040.

4. Edward Campbell household, 1871 Canada Census, Ontario, District 4, Lambton County, sub-district Bosanquet Township, no. 4, p. 22, lines 7-12, Library and Archives microfilm T-9897.

5. Marriage registration for Edward Campbell and Emeline Talbot, dated 15 May 1878, no. 6472,

6. Edward Campbell household, 1891 Canada Census, Ontario, district 81, East Lambton, sub-district 1, Bosanquet Township, p. 54, lines 12-14, Library and Archives microfilm, C-6347.

7. Death notice and Bosanquet column death information for Edward Campbell, Forest Standard, 12 March 1896, p. 4.

8. Death information for Edward Campbell, Bosanquet column, Watford Guide-Advocate, 20 March 1896, p. 1.

Alan Campbell
Newsletter Editor
Lambton County Branch of The OGS
(c) 2018

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