Roy Stockdill, editor of the Journal of One-Name
Studies, has been turning up some interesting
curiosities from the CDROMs. It is now possible to
find out who was the oldest living person in Britain
in 1881. Roy says: "It's quite easy, except you
have to search each of the 16 census disks
individually. On the disks you enter the year 1775 in
the Birth Year box and set the Year Range to 5. Be
sure to leave the given name and surname boxes blank.
Each disk produces a surprising number of
centenarians. I didn't count the total, but I
estimate there were over loo. By far the largest
number was in Scotland and Wales. There are of course
some glaringly obvious errors - like a 'son' of 110
born in 1771 and a 'niece' of similar age. However,
here are the front runners":
Oldest man in Britain in
William Riley, widower, aged 105, born at Poole in
Dorset, head, gypsy living with Caroline Lee,
unmarried, aged 40, born Gloucester, also a gypsy.
Being a gypsy William's age may be a bit suspect,
but he is supposed to have been born in 1776. He must
have fathered his daughter, Caroline, when he was 65,
but this is by no means impossible, or even unlikely.
The fact that he was called Riley and she Lee,
although unmarried, is not unusual either. Gypsies
were often known by more than one name (see an
article in the current issue of the Genealogists'
Britain's oldest women in
Arm Howard, widow, aged 110, born in Borneo. Arm
is supposed to have been born in 1771. This one is a
bit debatable, but if the age is correct she is the
clear winner and also Britain's oldest person on the
1881 census. But there are several other contenders (all
Mary Slater, a soldier's widow, aged 108, born
Chirsty Macpherson, a crofter, aged 108, with
an unmarried daughter of 58.
Margaret Cameron, unmarried, aged 108.
Emma Wood, an unmarried nurse, aged 106.
In Berkshire one of the rare centenarians is Lady
Julia Lockwood who was living at Ravensbury,
Sunninghill. She was born in Dublin.
Apart from interesting himself in centenarians Roy
has been looking for eminent Victorians. He found
William Ewart Gladstone (at No. lo, where else), the
six-year-old Winston Churchill, and literary lions
like Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and Arthur
Conan Doyle. Sir Arthur Sullivan, the composer lived
alone, aged 38, and was sandwiched in splendid
isolation between a Metropolitan fire station and a
church. He also found Oscar Wilde in Chelsea on
census night. Living in the same house were a 13year-old
apprentice and a 22-year-old printer, both described
as 'visitors'. The apprentice would appear to have
been the son of the housekeeper, but the printer is
If you find more famous entries, or oddities,
while looking through the census do let the editor
More from the CD ROM of the
The Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle on
census night in 1881 together with some of her
numerous children, and the ex-Empress Eugenie of
France. If you go to 'Neighbours' and then scroll
upwards you find that the very next person listed to
the Queen is a coachman's wife, who rejoiced in the
splendid name of Fanny Whip. No, she was not an
ancestor of Nanny Whip in 'Blot on the Landscape'!