As described at Locating an elusive UK birth record (Mary Ann Harper born circa 1865 possibly Dudley, England)? Mary Ann Harper is particularly elusive.

Two years before her marriage at age 18 I'd expect to find her in the census with her parents (father James Harper, unless she lied and was illegitimate) or in service locally (either Dudley where she was supposedly born or close to the parish she married in in 1883) but I haven't tracked her down.

What techniques can I deploy to locate her in the 1881 census?

What I do know:

Mary Ann Harper (spinster, aged 18) was married after Banns on 15th April 1883 to John Stanley Wright at St. Lukes Church, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. She named her father as James Harper (deceased) with no occupation given. Both parties gave their address as Hill Street. The witnesses were a J. Marshall and a D. Marshall. [Source: Copy of the relevant entry of marriage from the General Register Office]

From census records after her marriage, I have: an approximate year of birth (1865), and supposed place of birth (Dudley, England).

1 Answer 1


I was wondering if she might be in the school registers which have recently appeared on Find My Past, so I entered "Mary Ann" and "Harper" with name variants checked, "Dudley" in the place, and left the birth year blank, in case the age had been mis-read or mis-indexed. (One Ellis Island passenger list in my collection has a check/tick mark over the age, which caused the record to be indexed as if the passenger was 57 and not 27.)

There were no hits in the 'Education' category, only the BMD and the Census. So I filtered for the 1881 Census. This yielded 18 results.

I then sorted the results by year of birth ascending and started looking at candidates.

RG11 / 2877 / 22 / 38 shows a family at 30, Flood Street, Dudley which has:

Mary A Harper Servant Single Female 15 1866 Servant General Dudley, Worcestershire, England

Could this be the right person?

The head of household is Abraham Beese, a coal miner. He and his wife Mary are 30.

Here's a link to the record at FamilySearch.

Running the search at Family Search -- with name, plus birthplace Dudley, no birthdate specified, limited to the 1881 Census -- yields 120 results.

  • School registers was a good thought, even if it didn't yield results. And yes, that could be her, but there's nothing about those names or that address that suggest it's a match or not.
    – user104
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 11:42
  • NB: I didn't get a chance to check the school registers for overall coverage in that area, because FMP threw a server error.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 15:52

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