My grandfather Charles Thomas Gigg was born in Kensington, London in 1887. He appears to be illegitimate -- no father shown on birth certificate.

He is in the 1911 census -- married with own family.

But I can find no trace of him or his mother Hannah Gigg in the census for 1891 or 1901. I have investigated with Barnardos but they have no record of him being in their care. Can anyone suggest how I can fill in missing years?

2 Answers 2


You don't say how or where you've searched for him, so this is general advice.

  1. When searching for census entries, don't expect the full (or even an accurate name) to be given -- and ditto for age (either for him or his mother). So do as general a search as you can -- use either of his forenames or his initials and search for G?gg or G?ss as a surname -- G isn't often misheard but it can be mistranscribed (often as an S) and "i" could be heard as "o"" "a" "u" and "e" depending on the accents of the speaker and the hearer, so Gigg could show up in searches as Gagg, gegg, gogg, gugg, Gass, Giss.... or even gage.

    And a a trailing S was often introduced so Giggs etc.

    I always add +/- 5 years to birth dates when searching censuses -- and if that doesn't help, I don't use birth dates at all as mis-transcriptions can make a nonsense of the recorded data (8 can become 0 3 or 1 depending on the quality of the census image, the handwriting of the person who produced the census schedule and the expectations/ eyesight of indexer).And 1887 could become 1888 or even worse in the hands of somebody who didn't know the facts (Workhouse or other 'charitable' institution, Boarding house keep or just somebody he was lodging with).

  2. Trace his mother before and after his birth -- the people she lived with before his birth might give you clues (especially if they were relatives) and her date of death will help you know (at the latest) when to stop searching for them together. And look for any other children she had...

  3. His own baptism record (visible on findmypast.co.uk and confirming that his mother was not married) may give a clue for locations to search in 1891 -- parishes round about his birth. He didn't seem to move out of London, which is useful -- but don't assume this is the case and follow up any apparent leads elsewhere -- where might a Stoker in a Brewery have gone to find work (although I suspect that wasn't so specialist a labouring job that he would have needed to move elsewhere to find equivalent work, others with a similar problem might have more specialist occupations to chase down).

  4. Look for his marriage and the birth of the children you know about from the 1911 census: both ancestry.co.uk and findmypast have the BMD records you need as will FreeBMD.org (he married Louisa Ruth Pickard in 1908, yes? in a hurry as the first child -- also named Charles Thomas Gigg was born 3 months after the wedding). You may need to order the marriage certificate and birth certificate to get exact locations for the events but you might then be able to look for census entries in 1901 close to where he married.

  5. Barnardos is by no means the only place he might have ended up if he was orphaned or his mother was unable to look after him. Ancestry.co.uk have some London workhouse registers which might be fruitful for hi or his mother.

  6. Records later than those you have found can be unexpectedly helpful: There's a military service record for him in 1916 (and a discharge in 1919). In your case, it doesn't add anything to what you already know except the date of his wedding (says 1901 instead of 1908 but 1908 is more likely on age grounds, and confirms there were still only two children).Where is he in the 1939 -- ,oght provide more clues.

In summary: widen your searches (by name and by date); look for clues later than you expect;and chase down known relatives to find connections you didn't think about.


I note that Charles Thomas Gigg was baptised on 13 Feb 1887 at St James Norlands, Kensington. His mother is given as Hannah Sarah Gigg, of 5 Mary's Place, single:

enter image description here Source: Ancestry.co.uk, London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906

Whenever I have a case of a mother and illegitimate child vanishing without trace, my first thought is always that the mother probably married, and they probably appear on the censuses under another surname. That is what happened here.

Searching for a marriage on FreeBMD for Hannah Gigg between 1887 and 1891 brings up only a couple of options. Given her child's birthplace was Kensington, and the name given on the baptism (Hannah Sarah Gigg) this looks to be a likely bet: enter image description here

However, we have a problem here. Only three names appear on this page, and there should be four. As luck would have it, Hannah's husband's name is the one that is missing. Nevertheless, it is a problem relatively easily solved. By performing a search of all marriages in Kensington RD in Dec quarter 1887, I was able to see that there was a lone entry on page 200: Thomas Walter Searle. Upon checking the original image, I was able to see that this was a transcription error, and the page should read page 209. Thomas was Hannah's husband.

More by luck than judgement I then came across Hannah and Thomas's marriage record in the London Parish Records on Ancestry.co.uk. It shows that they were married in St Helen's Church, Kensington, on 16 Oct 1887:

enter image description here Source: Ancestry.co.uk, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921

On Ancestry.co.uk, I came across a baptism record for Hannah Rosetta Searle, born 8 Aug 1888, baptised 2 Sep 1888 in St Mark's Church, Dalston, daughter of Thomas & Hannah Sarah Searle, of 102 Mayfield Road, bricklayer. Sadly this Hannah died in infancy. Her death was registered in June qtr 1889 in Edmonton RD.

I tried without success to find the family on the 1891 census.

However, they do appear on the 1901 census, at 13 Chalgrove Rd, Tottenham, Middlesex. Hannah is written as Anna, and there are four children noted: Annie (11), William (9), Lilian (7), and Emily (2): enter image description here Source: 1901 England Census, ref RG 13/1247, f 154, p 52

On the 1911 census, Thomas and Hannah and family are living at 42 Hartington Rd, Tottenham, Middlesex: enter image description here Source: 1911 England Census, ref RG 14/7328, no 199

Clearly Charles is not with them in either 1901 or 1911 – and he is married by 1911. I see according to his military records he married in Edmonton in 1908, which fits well with his mother and step-father living in Tottenham.

I suspect that wherever he was in 1891, he was with his mother and step-father, probably under the surname Searle. Whether it is a poorly transcribed entry or the family was omitted altogether, is difficult to say.

In 1901, since he is not with his parents, I would broaden your search to include various spellings of Searle. This seems to be a surname easily prone to mistranscription. In his youth Charles may have used Searle rather than Gigg, even though he married as Gigg.

  • Good catch for a subsequent marriage -- once you've garnered the well-deserved votes, I may edit my answer..
    – user104
    Jul 3, 2016 at 16:09
  • Interesting new slant on my great grandmother, makes me wonder if Thomas Searle was my grandfather's biological father. But then again if that was the case why does he appear cast out of the family. Definite food for thought, I am very grateful.
    – Chameleon
    Jul 4, 2016 at 18:57

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