Photograph Identity Questions 4, 5 & 6 – Results

Thank you to the 21 people who responded to Photograph Identity Questions 4, 5 & 6. A couple of people did not answer all three questions, so each ended up with 20 answers as follows:

Face comparison 4,5 & 6 results

Face comparison 4,5 & 6 results

The no votes have it, to varying degrees, with 70% for photo pair 4, 60% for photo pair 5, and 90% for photo pair 6. From these results, pair 6 certainly seems to be different people, but it is hard to be so sure for pair 4 and pair 5.

In this series, I have now asked ‘Is this the same person?’ for 6 pairs of faces. Photo pair 1 was a control case where I knew the answer was ‘No’. Photo pairs 2 to 6 are all about comparing people in the group photo below with other photos in the same album.

group photo

Allport, Thomas B. (photographer, Uttoxeter). ca. 1860s-early 1870s. Group of 8 people. Faces extracted for comparison in photo pairs 2-6.

To recap all 6 results:

Photo pair Result Result% Strathclyde result
1 No 76% Human: Yes 69%; Picasa: Yes, threshold 65
2 Yes 94% Human: Yes 94%; Picasa: Yes, threshold 75
3 No 65%
4 No 70%
5 No 60% Human: Yes 82%; Picasa: Yes, threshold 65
6 No 90%

Three of the photo pairs were included in a project I undertook in 2010 for the Genealogical Studies postgraduate program at the University of Strathclyde. The methods were a little different as most respondents gave their answers offline and they were asked to give ‘instant’ answers rather than try to consciously analyse the photo pairs. In the Strathclyde study, 4 of the 5 control face pairs known to be the same person scored 70% or more ‘Yes’ votes, but only 1 of 4 the control face pairs known to be different people scored over 70% of ‘No’ votes. So I thought responses to face pairs of unknown identity with a substantial majority of ‘Yes’ votes, especially those over 80%, were likely the same people. I hoped for consistent results for the 3 pairs repeated in this series. Photo pair 2 delivered the same result, but photo pairs 1 and 5 did not.

Comments from respondents suggest that they spent time consciously analysing the photo pairs. If undecided did you vote ‘No’? Did you become less sure the longer you tried to analyse the photos? Are these potential reasons for the preponderance of ‘No’ votes? Could the 60-70% middle ground ‘No’ votes really indicate uncertainty? I welcome comments on these questions.

I admit that I hoped that pairs 2 – 6 would have decisive ‘Yes’ answers to support the conclusions summarised in Cartes de Visite album links to the Stanley family and Earls of Derby.

© Sue Adams 2014

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GRO Index Discrepancy or Name Variations?

So far in the 50 Marriage Mondays series, I have presented marriage certificates that were issued on the day of the event, or by the General Register Office.  This marriage certificate was issued on 30 October 2000 by the superintendent registrar for the district in which it occurred, Abingdon.

Marriage certificate - William Dunsdon & Eliza Ellen Kembry

Marriage certificate – William Dunsdon & Eliza Ellen Kembry

Bride: Eliza Ellen Kembry or Kembrey
Groom: William Dunsdon
Date: 29 April 1871
Location: parish church, Fyfield, Berkshire

A quick recap on the registration system:  Two registers kept by the church where filled in as the marriages occurred. Every quarter, copies of the marriages were made and sent to the General Register Office (GRO), which prepared a national index of all marriages.  This is the index that is widely available online (e.g. FreeBMD) and on microfiche, and is the one I consulted to order the certificate.  Once the registers were full, one was sent to the district registrar, who created their own index of registers in their keeping, which is different from the GRO index.  Some of these indexes have been published and are searchable at UK BMD, but Fyfield parish is not yet included.  The second register may remain at the church, but most have been deposited at County Record Offices or Archives.

The April-June 1871 GRO index entries for this marriage provide this information:

Surname Forename District Vol Page
DUNSDON  William Abingdon  2c 547
KEMBREY  Eliza Ellen Abingdon  2c 547

The certificate is a handwritten transcript of the register.  The superintendent registrar, who is obliged to ensure that certificates are accurate copies of the register, included a note pointing out that the bride’s name was spelt differently, Elisa Ellen Kembry.

How might the discrepancy have arisen?

The GRO index has at least two copying events in its provenance (copy of original register submitted, details copied on creation of the index), the certificate just one.  Does that mean the certificate is more reliable?  We do not know if the two original registers are identical, so there is a possibility that the bride did not consistently spell her name.  How was her name recorded on other records?

Oct-Dec 1851 GRO birth index Eliza Ellen Kembrey
1861 census Ellen Kembrey
1871 census Ellen Kimbrey
1873 daughter Emily’s birth certificate Eliza Ellen Dunsdon formerly Kembrey
1881 census Elizabeth Dunsdon
1891 census Eliza Ellen Dunsdon
1901 census Eliza Dunsdon

Is there a correct spelling?

Usually it is fairly easy to find alternative forms of a surname through one of the websites that gives statistics on surname frequencies and origins such as British Surnames and Surname Profiles or PublicProfiler gbnames.  However, Kembrey and Kembry are not listed.  Similarly a search on Ancestry’s ‘Learn about the history of your surname page’ indicates a mere 757 census and voters roll records spread across time, so it seems the name is rare indeed.

The Kembrey name could be a corruption of something that sounds similar, which is something I should bear in mind when I try tracing earlier generations.  Soundex provides a means of comparing phonetically similar names.  The soundex code for Kembrey/Kembry is K516 or C516 if you replace the K with a C.  RootsWeb’s Soundex Converter suggests other surnames sharing these soundex codes:

Kemper, Kempers, Kimber, Kimberlin, Kimberly, Kimbrell, Kimbro, Kimbrough, Knepper, Knippers, Camber, Cambridge, Chamberlain, Chamberlin, Chambers, Comfort, Comper, Confer, Conibear, Conover, Conpropst, Converse, Convery, Coomber, Cumberland

© Sue Adams 2013


Making the Connection between Civil Registration and Census Records

The information on a marriage certificate gives a good starting point for tracking both the couple concerned and their parental families through census records.  This week’s example in the 50 Marriage Mondays series is a General Register Office copy of the marriage register.

Marriage Certificate George Brown & Alice Macdonald

Marriage Certificate George Brown & Alice Macdonald [1]

Bride: Alice MacDonald, age 20
Groom: George Brown, age 23
Date: 28 October 1888
Location: St Andrew’s church, St Andrew’s Bordesley, Aston, Warwick
Groom’s father: George Brown, Engine Driver
Brides father: Edward Macdonald dec’d, Engine Driver

The first census after this marriage was taken in 1891[2].  It enumerates 3 members of the household at 5 Court 3 House, 41 White Road in the Bordesley Ward of Birmingham Municipal Borough and Aston registration district.

George Brown, head 25, born in Spalding, Lincs
Alice Brown, wife 19, born in Birmingham, Warwick
Arthur Macdonald, brother in law 16, born in Birmingham, Warwick

Notice that Alice’s age does not tally with that given on the marriage certificate.  Alice’s age is consistently reported on this and other census records, suggesting that she was born ca 1872, so was only 16 at the time of the marriage.  Between 1865 and 1874, births of 11 Alice Macdonald/McDonald were registered, but only the January – March 1872 quarter recorded a birth in Aston which is local to Birmingham.

Parental consent should have been required for her to marry as she was under 21.  If there was an attempt to conceal her age, 21 should have been given to avoid any consent requirement.  However, her father was deceased and the identity and status of her mother is not apparent from these two records.  The presence of Arthur Macdonald, brother of Alice, helps confirm that this is the same person as on appears on earlier census.

Working back in time finds Alice in her parent’s residence, 55 White Road, Bordesley in 1881[3].  All were born in Birmingham.

Edward Mc Donald Head 56 Beer Retailer (Out Door)
Maria Mc Donald Wife 50
Emily Mc Donald Daughter 19
Walter Mc Donald Son   17 Nail Caster
Mary A. Mc Donald Daughter   11
Alice Mc Donald Daughter   9
Arthur Mc Donald Son   6

Edward and Maria Macdonald have not been found on the 1891 census.  Five possible deaths for Edward Macdonald/McDonald of the right age were registered between 1881 and 1891, the most likely in the October-December 1887 quarter at Solihull.  Maria could have died or remarried, either of which could have led to Arthur going to live with his sister.  Only one death for a Maria Macdonald/McDonald of the right age was registered in the decade, in the July-September 1883 quarter at Worksop, and there were several registrations of marriages for people named Maria Macdonald/McDonald.

The groom, George Brown resided with his parent at 8 Hawthorne Bank, Spalding in 1881[4]

George Brown head 57 Corbet, Lincoln
Hannah Brown wife 51 Spalding, Lincoln
William son 18 Holbeach, Lincoln
George son 16 Spalding, Lincoln
Selina daughter 13 Gosberton, Lincoln
Ellen daughter 10 Gosberton, Lincoln

Moving forward in time, the couple were at 45 White Rd, Bordesley in 1901[5].

George Brown Head 35 Little London, Lincolnshire
Alice Brown Wife 29 Birmingham, Warwickshire
George Brown Son 7 Birmingham, Warwickshire

Notice the discrepancy in George’s place of birth, Little London rather than Spalding.  There are 4 places named Little London in Lincolnshire.  However one is in Spalding, marked at one end of Hawthorne Bank, so the George’s place of birth and home in 1881 were certainly very close if not the same house.

By 1911 George had died leaving Alice with 3 children at 45 White Rd, Sparkbrook (same address as 1901 as Sparkbrook is in Bordesley ward)[6].  This schedule also includes a lodger, Alfred Dean from Gedney Drove End, Lincolnshire and reveals that Alice had another child who died prior to 1911.

Alice Brown Head 39 Hardware Dealer
George Brown Son 17 Brass Polisher
Charles Henry Brown Son 7
Sarah Jane Brown Son 5
Alfred Dean Boarder 29 Labourer Interception Dept, Birmingham Corporation

Discrepancies between the census and civil registration information have been resolved sufficiently for me to reach a preliminary conclusion that Alice’s parents were Edward and Maria Macdonald of Aston, and George’s parents were George and Hannah Brown of Spalding.


[1] General Register Office. Certified copy of an entry of Marriage (Marriage certificate). RD Aston. Warwick, St Andrews, Bordesley, no 275. issued 11 August 2005. George Brown & Alice Macdonald, 1888.

[2] Census. 1891. England & Wales. Warwick, Aston, Deritend. RD 39, image 22.  Brown, George. Available online ancestry.co.uk .
[3] Census. 1881. England & Wales. Warwick, Aston, Deritend. RD 39, images 20-21. McDonald, Edward. Available online ancestry.co.uk .

[4] Census. 1881. England & Wales. Lincoln, Spalding. RD 12, image 32. Brown, George. Available online ancestry.co.uk

[5] Census. 1901. England & Wales. Warwickshire, Aston, Deritend. RD 40, image  22. Brown, George. Available online ancestry.co.uk

[6] Census. 1911. England & Wales. Warwickshire, Aston. RD 34, page 1083, schedule 183. Brown, Alice. Available online ancestry.co.uk .