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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

52 Ancestors: Wk 5 - Census Discoveries on GG Grandfather Henry Danson

"The Census"  is Amy Johnson Crow's theme for Week 5 of  her challenge "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks".  Censuses are one of the bedrocks of our family history research  with information on homes, names, relationships. ages, occupations, and places of birth - as illustrated in the life of my great, great grandfather Henry Danson (1806-1881).

The birth certificate of my great grandfather James Danson gave his place of birth as Trap Farm, Carleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire,  with  parents Henry Danson and Elizabeth Calvert.  I soon found the family's entry in the 1841 Census - 30 year old Henry, a   farmer was living there with his wife Elizabeth,  five daughters - Betty, Grace, Mary, Margaret and Ellen, Henry's  much older brother Peter and two servants - a household of ten.

By the time of the 1851 Census,  the household had risen to 13!  Henry was described as a farmer of 31 acres. Eldest daughter (now married)  Elizabeth was there  with her husband Thomas Bailey, three sisters Mary,  Margaret  and Ellen, whilst second daughter Grace had left home.  But there were now two sons and one more daughter  - John,  Henry and Jane  plus Henry's older brother  Peter, aged 58, and  a  male farm servant and female house servant.    

How did they all fit into what looked a small farmhouse?  Would the servants be living in the outhouses?  My great grandfather James, was born there at Trap in 1852  to    complete the family.

 Trap Farm  - in a dilapidated state c.1998

I found the farm on the current Ordnance Survey Map and set out to find it on a visit to the Fylde c.1998.  Situated amidst fields on what is now a busy road, it was a sorry sight - dilapidated and overgrown.  I would have loved to have had a rummage in the loft to see if I could find any family memoraibilia!

Some years later,  I returned to Carleton,  fully expecting Trap Farm to be wiped off the map and replaced by a modern housing estate.   To my surprise it was still there, but was undergoing a transformation into a modern home.

Trap Farm, c.2011 

But what of the Danson family? 
My research was in the days before the online resources,  and I lost the family, as they were no longer at Trap.   Eventually I found them in the 1861  census  at Leys Farm in the parish of  Layton with Warbreck.  What had prompted the move?  The younger children were listed as scholars, and Grace was back living at home,   as was daughter Mary, a laundress,  with her husband William Gaulter, a carter. 

By 1871 Henry, aged 64 had had  a complete change of occupation.   He was now toll collector at the Shard Bridge, near the village of Singleton.  The Toll Bridge, near Fleetwood,  had been opened in 1864 replacing a ferry across the River Wyre.  

Henry  still headed a large family - two unmarried sons Henry,  a railway porter and James a joiner;  unmarried daughter Ellen, an unemployed housekeeper with a young daughter of her own  four year old May;    and daughter  Jane  with her hsuband Thomas Cardwell,  a grocer, and their baby  daughter Ellen.    There seemed to be a custom of the Danson married daughters returning to the family home for a spell.

The 1881 census showed a much depleted family at Shard Bridge.  Mother Elizabeth had died two years earlier;  widowed, childless daughter Margaret was back home acting as housekeeper, and completing the household were son Henry and 14 year old granddaughter May.  

Henry senior died in October 1881 aged 74.

But it was the census returns that give us such a picture of his life -  
his homes, his extended family, the choice of names for his children and grandchildren,  and  the occupations they followed.   

Based on posts first published on my blog in 2010-2011. 



Take a look at my next blog post as it is a very apt follow up to the question of age and estimated year of birth in cemsus records.  It is  a newspaper article from 1891 on  the age women give to the "Bogey Man, that is the Census Man" when he calls. 

It makes  for entertaining reading - and was obviously written by a man!



  1. How wonderful to be able to see an ancestral home both when it was in shambles and as it was being restored. I wonder if a descendant is doing the restoration? Whoever is doing it, thank you for preserving this part of the past.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Frances. I did trace the planning application for the renovation, and I doubt if it was by a Danson descendant. But you never know - with 6 daughters in Henry Danson’s family, it would be more difficult to verify.

  2. Wow.. wonderful to see the ancestral home! Where my Singleton family lived at Pilling is now a Caravan Park!! :-(

    1. Thank you, Dianne - from a fellow Fylde descendant!


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