Or is it just a gap in the records?

My 3xgreat-grandmother, Sarah Rule, is shown in the 1851, 1871 and 1881 Censuses for England and Wales with ages that would indicate a date of birth around 1809–1811, and a place of birth as Hull, Yorkshire, England. (The 1861 Census seems to include a possible match, mispelt "Rull", so I'm not relying on it.) Likewise her death record on FreeBMD suggests a birth date in this range. I also have a marriage record for her marriage to William Henry Gale (see, eg this FamilySearch link) that is consistent with her stated place of birth.

But the only birth or christening record I can find in Yorkshire for a Sarah Rule in this time frame is this one, which is the right place, but about 8–10 years out, in 1801.

I know people sometimes lied about their age when they got married and then had to keep up the pretense, but how likely is it that a discrepancy that large would go unnoticed? Alternatively, is it possible the birth record has been mistranscribed?

Are there alternative sources of Yorkshire christening records that I might be able to search to find her?

  • I'm confused! If she was born Sarah Rule, how did she remain a Rule (or Rull) in the census after her marriage? If that's her married name then what was her birth name?
    – ACProctor
    Dec 30, 2012 at 18:14
  • 1
    She appears in the censuses as Sarah Gale (Gall in 1861) which I agree isn't written clearly in the question.
    – Rob Hoare
    Dec 30, 2012 at 21:24
  • It says the surname was misspelt "Rull" in 1861, which I took to be a tentative match for "Rule".
    – ACProctor
    Dec 31, 2012 at 1:00
  • Sorry, I'd got my potential Census matches mixed up while writing the question.
    – Verbeia
    Dec 31, 2012 at 1:22
  • 1
    For what it's worth, most of the Ancestry.com 1851 (held in 1852) census of the Province of New Brunswick (now part of Canada) is mistakenly indexed as being part of the 1861 census. I have pointed this out to Ancestry.com MANY times over the past three or four years and they have never fixed it. I found this problem by discovering many "10 year discrepancies" in ages in people I was researching from New Brunswick. Jan 3, 2013 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


In the 1841 census (Ancestry) both Sarah and William have a (rounded) age of 30. Their oldest child is 9 years old, which is consistent with the 1830 marriage.

Both Sarah and William had similar ages in future censuses, with the last child born when they were listed as being around age 33.

So how likely was it that Sarah was actually 30, and William was 21, when they married in 1830? That's quite an age gap (and her last child would be at age 43, rather than 33).

Especially as there's a Sarah Rule who died in Hull in 1804, with a father of William, same as the girl born in 1801 in the same place. That's the best way to find out if a similar person is the same person - follow them forward and see what happens to them.

So I think you'll need to carry on looking for the birth of your Sarah Rule born around 1810. And the birth of William Henry Gale, who doesn't seem to be findable around Hull either.

There are some fairly expensive parish records transcripts available from The East Yorkshire Family History Society but as you don't know the parish that isn't really a viable solution.

  • Thanks, your reasoning accords with mine, but I was wanting to sanity check my rejection of this baptism record as not being my Sarah Rule. And yes, both she and her husband have been quite elusive compared to some of the other lines in my tree.
    – Verbeia
    Dec 31, 2012 at 0:06

It would be very unusual for someone's age to be consistently 10y out. Nothing is impossible but extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and I don't see that here. Let me try and add a few things:

  • Firstly, you mention "birth records". I'm not just being pedantic when I say that these are not birth records but baptism records. Remembering to say "baptism" (I suspect you do know what they really are) reminds us that these aren't birth records, where attempts were made to record all births, but baptisms into a church and therefore there might be several denominations of churches that we need to look at - or indeed, they might not have been baptised at all;
  • FamilySearch is not complete for each English county - no sites are. Therefore you need to sit down and find out what churches from the area are found in FamilySearch (or Ancestry or FindMyPast, etc.) before you can say, "There's only one candidate". What about the parishes that aren't in?
  • One way of finding out what's on FamilySearch is the site "FamilySearch: A Guide to the British Batches". This site is a successor to Hugh Wallis' work on the IGI.
  • Also you may find help on the GENUKI site(s) for the county. I'm not familiar with Yorkshire but it seems like Yorkshire does have the status of all the parishes listed, together with data about what's to be found where. See GENUKI's Yorkshire intro.
  • Some of the non-conformist registers are to be found on the "BMD Registers" site. You may know about it but there's an 1845 baptism of a Sarah Ann Rule at the Independent Chapel on Holborn Street, Kingston upon Hull. Obviously not yours but suggestive that some of the Rules were nonconformist at some time and therefore might not always have baptised their children into the Church of England.
  • Bear in mind that census birthplaces can be misleading. On many occasions it's clear that people just give the closest town - and this might not be the parish where they were baptised.

Rob is very right to point out that the 1801 Sarah does look like she died later on. I always do the same thing whenever I find a candidate for someone. I look back to find a candidate. If I find one and only one, how likely is it that there's another who was baptised but whose records aren't in FamilySearch (or Ancestry or...)? Or another who wasn't baptised? About the only way to do that for the unbaptised child is to look forward in time and see if there is any other fate for the child you have found. In this case there is - she's probably buried in 1804.

  • 1
    According to FS, William and Mary Rule have a William junior baptised 1806 at a Independent / Congregational chapel but revert to Holy Trinity by 1815 - assuming these are the same parents. Suggests indecision over which church they go to - a classic reason for missing baptisms.
    – AdrianB38
    Dec 30, 2012 at 12:28
  • @Verbeia I've found both GENUKI and Curious Fox to be quite helpful in this situation -- the user can choose a village and then look at a list of nearby places.
    – Jan Murphy
    Nov 14, 2014 at 4:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.