Names On The Census

‘A Man With A Big Nose’, Stockport, 1871 Census


Names On The Census: Willy McBum (Glasgow, 1891), Emma Longleg (London ,1911), Anna Zombie (Rhode Island, US Census 1930) Joseph Squid (London 1881), Hairy Head (Dover, 1891) and Ambrose Hughbottom (Edinburgh 1861). Just a few of the unusual names that appear on census returns.

A new series of Who Do You Think You Are? starts on BBC1 tonight, and no doubt they will use census returns during their research. A census has taken place in the UK every ten years, since 1801 (apart from 1941) and they are a goldmine of information for us genealogists. But they can provide surprises and often a giggle. My favourite is the one shown above, from Stockport in Lancashire in 1871.

Name: A Man with A Big Nose Age, aged 40 – a tramp, supported, out of work. ” (RG10/4250 Folio: 47 Page: 5).

When the enumerator called on the Knotwell family in Callington, Cornwall in 1861, he asked the name of their one day-old son. But they hadn’t decided what to call him. So the enumerator haughtily wrote:

Name: Census Knotwell, born about 1861 in Callington, Cornwall.”

I wonder if he grew up using that name?

Many more of these unusual names have appeared during research and I will publish some more soon.

If you would like me to research your ancestors, contact me here, or at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *