Author Topic: Why would ages be off on records?  (Read 5260 times)

Offline Ruskie

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #27 on: Sunday 22 January 17 05:43 GMT (UK) »
I'm sure Graeme will welcome all examples, Scottish or not, from 1855 or 1955 and anything in between.

One or two years 'out' is neither here nor there, and can sometimes be due to their age at census time, incorrect calculations (I put my hand up for that one), what part of the year they were born, as well as the more interesting, intentional fibs. The plus and minus search is there to (generally) catch these little anomalies and as already advised, it's wise to use it when it's offered.  :)

I have one who shaved exactly 10 years off his age when he immigrated, possibly due to wanting to appear younger to be more employable, and possibly die to having a much younger wife, or a combination of the two. I wonder of he fooled anyone?  :)

Offline gaffy

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #28 on: Sunday 22 January 17 08:48 GMT (UK) »
The following link to a previous topic called 'How did people know how old they were?' gives some explanation of why ages would be off on records: 

http://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=727548.0

I particularly liked the extract from a book by someone remembering back to the latter half of the 1800s, mentioned in Elwyn Soutter's reply #17:

'My mother kept a mental record of the twelve births. None of us ever knew, or cared to know, when we were born. When I heard of anybody in the more fortunate class celebrating a birthday I considered it a foolish imitation of the Queen’s birthday, which rankled in our little minds with 25th December or 12th July. In manhood there were times when I had to prove I was born somewhere, somewhen, and then it was that I discovered that I also had a birthday. The clerk of the parish informed me.'


Offline groom

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #29 on: Sunday 22 January 17 09:39 GMT (UK) »
That's interesting gaffy. So I wonder when people started celebrating birthdays in the way we do now, especially the milestone ones ending in 0?
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Offline brigidmac

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #30 on: Sunday 22 January 17 10:45 GMT (UK) »
I think this topic is a useful reminder to all of us .

I.m trying to prove that a lady in  newspaper stories is my great grandmother despite being cited as 5 years younger



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Offline KGarrad

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #31 on: Sunday 22 January 17 11:26 GMT (UK) »
That's interesting gaffy. So I wonder when people started celebrating birthdays in the way we do now, especially the milestone ones ending in 0?

Celebrating a birthday was considered to be a pagan thing - even today, some churches frown on such celebrations!

Birthdays started being celebrated in the 1800's.
Nobody really knows when :-\
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Offline brigidmac

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #32 on: Sunday 22 January 17 13:11 GMT (UK) »
i think a 25 year old woman(an Actress) would have wanted to pass herse;f off as 20 if her fella was 21
and why not stick with the younger name for the rest of her life ...would prison officials have had access to any documents in 1906 with her real age on  ?
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Offline brigidmac

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #33 on: Sunday 22 January 17 13:14 GMT (UK) »
A set of Latvian Jewish relatives who'd lived in GB for 15 years all rounded down their ages quite a lot when they crossed from GB to USA i wondered if this could have been to do with education opportunities for the 8-16 year olds or the marriagable ages of the daughters ..the eldest was getting on a bit.... 26 !
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Offline clairec666

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #34 on: Sunday 22 January 17 18:48 GMT (UK) »
Since starting my family tree, I've learned that a century or two ago, people cared a lot less about exactly how old they are. My 3xgreat-grandfather "loses" a year or two every census, and had lost 7 years by the time he died in 1897.

Generally, the earlier the record and the older the person, the less accurate I would expect their age to be. So for a burial of a 64-year-old in 1819, I would take quite a wide range (say, 1750-1760) when looking for their baptism. But I would expect a 25-year-old in 1901 to be accurate, unless there was a particular reason to lie - age different with bride, etc.

Someone mentioned people lying about their age to get a job - I've found documents relating to my 2g-grandfather applying for a job of vaccination officer in the 1890s; he was considered too old for the job at 46 years old.
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Offline GR2

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Re: Why would ages be off on records?
« Reply #35 on: Sunday 22 January 17 20:40 GMT (UK) »
I have also found some 19th century records where ages are given as 18, 25 and 67, when the people were actually 17, 24 and 66, i.e. what we would call "in their 18th, 25th and 67th years".

Moderator comment: some off-topic replies removed and others edited to remove references to those replies. 

Topic - hopefully - now contains relevant and helpful replies.   :)