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Finding Sarah Taylor (nee Mills) on the 1871 and 1891 censuses

I was recently researching the siblings of my 3x great grandmother, Catherine Mills, and was working on her sister Sarah.

Sarah had married Alfred Taylor in 1847, and by 1861 she was a widow.  The surname Taylor is a fairly common one, (as are most surnames that are occupational surnames), which is one of the reasons why you wouldn’t think there would be much chance of the surname being mis-transcribed.

I had earlier found Sarah on the 1881 census, when I was working on her sister Maria, as the two were living together at the time at 3 Soho Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire.  I had also found Sarah on the Probate index:

TAYLOR Sarah of the “Limes” 3 Soho-road Handsworth Staffordshire widow died 29 July 1902 Probate London 19 September to Jane Barnett and Elizabeth Barnett spinsters Effects £5371 14s 6.

My earlier research had found that Sarah’s sister, Ann, had married Edward Barnett, and two of Ann’s daughters were called Jane and Elizabeth.

I then found Sarah on the 1901 census.  But when I tried searching for a Sarah Taylor, born about 1820 in Birmingham, in Handsworth, Staffordshire on the 1891 census, none of the results seemed to fit.  There was nothing left to do but to try leaving the surname blank, and just look for a Sarah, born about 1820 in Birmingham who was living in Handsworth.   In the results was an entry that I thought might have been a mis-transcription:

View Record Sarah Gaitor 1820 Birmingham Head Handsworth , Staffordshire

Sure enough, she was living at 3 Soho Road, and was therefore Sarah Taylor (nee Mills):

Sarah Taylor 1891 census
1891 census of England, Handsworth, Staffordshire, folio 133, page 21, Sarah Taylor, age 71 (indexed as Sarah Gaitor); digital images,, Ancestry ( : accessed 14 Jun 2019); citing PRO RG 12/2260.

I had found Sarah on the 1861 census, but had been unable to find her on the 1871 census as well.  It was time to try the trick of leaving the surname blank again.  This time, the surname had been transcribed as Saylor

Sarah Taylor 1871 census

Sarah and Maria 1871 census
1871 census of England, Handsworth, Staffordshire, folio 18, page 31, Sarah Taylor, age 51 (indexed as Sarah Saylor); digital images,, ( : accessed 14 Jun 2019); citing PRO RG 10/2970.

Finding this record also filled in the gap in the information I had for Maria, as I hadn’t been able to find Maria on the 1871 census.

What made finding the entries for my Sarah even more challenging was the fact that there was another Sarah Taylor who was a widow, born about 1820 in Birmingham, and living in Handsworth.  She had also been living in Soho Street on the 1861 census.  This Sarah was a greengrocer.  The census records for my Sarah had shown she was of independent means.


2 thoughts on “Finding Sarah Taylor (nee Mills) on the 1871 and 1891 censuses

  1. Transcription errors are a problem but I am so grateful that we have transcriptions and indexes. I sometimes find it helps to swap sites – FindMyPast has a separate transcription that ancestry and sometimes I find a record on FindMyPast that I couldn’t pick up on ancestry.


    1. I do occasionally use FindMyPast or FamilySearch when I can’t find an entry at Ancestry, but Ancestry is the site I use the most, because it has so many of the collections I need, that aren’t available elsewhere. I am also so grateful for the amount of records that are available online, and for the transcriptions and indexes that help me to find the records.,


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