Handwriting!

The deciphering of handwriting or Palaeography is quite an art. Transcribing the written word is not always easy, especially that of pre 1900. However, over time and many years studying census records, parish records and generally any old documents, you get accustomed to the diverse amount of styles. Not to forget, of course, that knowing how to read and write back then was not a privilege of everyone. Most had to rely on others to write for them. This in itself is not the problem for researchers. The problem is that those who could read and write didn’t always know how to spell. Add to that the handwriting itself, and you had the means of changing someone’s title. For example, Hawes becomes Haws or on one occasion, Halls.

So, when researching your family, look for anomalies. Don’t always trust the written word. I believe there is no such thing as coincidences, so if it appears to be so close, all but one letter, then pursue it. You never know what you might find.