TIMMINS Surname Frequency Revisited!

Since my last blog post I have been busy collecting census data relating to the surname study. One area that interested me was the 1851 census as this is the earliest census to include place of birth. It was also 30 years earlier than the information I had written about to date (1881 census).

After downloading the 1851 census data relating to the Timmins’ I started to produce statistics of birth locations for County and Parish. It was during this that the penny dropped – I had up to now been looking at ALL people with the surname, but what I should have been doing at this point, to determine the geographical origin, was to concentrate on people BORN with the surname. Hence some of the statistics that I had produced in previous blog posts were probably inaccurate. One obvious error is in the surname frequency table that I produced for the Searching for the Geographical Origin article.

The 1851 census spreadsheet that I produced from the downloaded data was easily adapted to exclude people not born with the surname – Widow in the Condition field; Wife, Mother and Mother-in-Law in the Relation field were all excluded via a filter. Interestingly when analysed further this amounted to roughly 19% of all Timmins’ in each census year!

Since my previous data gathering exercise to produce a frequency table, FindMyPast had included Scottish records in their census collections. So version 2 of the table below now includes England, Scotland,  Wales, Channel Isles, Isle of Man, and Ships & Overseas Establishments, although the later two vary depending on census date.

Note – The 1841 census does not have a Condition or Relation field so the Born a Timmins figure is estimated (1108 – 19%)

A future development for this table is to include the Timmins’ found in Ireland and Australia. If anyone is able to help with this, it would be much appreciated.  I also need to fill in the census gaps for USA and Canada.

As seen in the graph below there are a couple of dips in the number of Timmins recorded for both 1851 and 1891 census. It is not clear why this is the case. There are known issues with most of the census collections, I was surprised to see just how many missing records there are. You can see the complete list of issues for each census at FindMyPast Known Issues.

More light might be thrown on the dips by looking at the statistics for births and deaths of Timmins’ in the preceding 10 years of each census. This however is research for another day!

I am now in the process of cleaning up the Timmins 1851 census data ready for use in some surname distribution maps – watch this space.

Using Excel to Format FamilySearch Data

It has been quite some time since I last posted a blog, this is mainly due to my TIMMINS One Name Study taking up more time than expected.  I am still learning about surname studies so have been reading up on the subject.  I have just finished the Surname Detective by Colin D. Rogers, this book has proved to be a very useful introduction as well interesting, I can recommend it if you are in any way interested in surnames.  Next on my reading list is a book referred to many times by Rogers – The Origin of English Surnames by P.H Reaney.

So what else have I been doing over the past few weeks.  One thing that cropped up was a requirement to investigate a surname in my wife’s family, this was subsequent to the discovery of a photograph that had a list of names on it.  The family name was WARNER, they had resided in India in the 19th and early 20th century’s.

FamilySearch has pretty good coverage of India, so some family reconstruction could be carried out to determine the family groups.  Searching on India Marriages for WARNER  produced some 253 matches, that is 13 pages of links at 20 links per page.  Each marriage record has 24 items so copy and pasting all this into an Excel spreadsheet could take a long time; but……

by using my favourite data capture program Outwit Hub I devised a really simple scraper and saved myself hours.

The methodology of using this scraper is the same as detailed in my previous post Extracting Marriage Data Made Easy

Once I had Caught the data in the Catch area it was exported into Excel, I then made a copy of the worksheet (this is so that I can work on the data but retain the original data – just in case!).  There are a number of colums of data that I don’t need so all those are deleted, that just leaves the field name in column A and the data in column B.

I was now faced with a vertically tablulated column of data stretching over 6,072 rows (253 x 24).  What I really need is 24 columns of data over 253 rows.  I have used Excel for many years but my expertise in Excel functions would not enable me to sort this one out!  I did know however that a macro in VBA would be my best bet, so I searched the usual forums and found a solution.

To make this macro work I needed an end of record identifier for each of the 253 records.  The last field on each of the record sets was “Reference Number”, this field had no useful data in it – so I filtered column A on this field and filled all 253 instances with an “@” symbol, this this is the end of record delimiter for the macro.  Column A is now no use so it is deleted.  All the useful data should now be in Column A (unfiltered).  Run the macro and you now have the data in a usable format.  Insert a row at the top and name the columns a required.  Rather than have a load of screen shots of Excel showing the process you can download the Excel Spreadsheet from my Google Documents HERE (under File – Download).

There are 4 tabs in the workbook with the instructions on how to use it in the first tab.  If you want to see the code behind the macro then go to Tools – Macro – Visual Basic Editor – if it is not already visible then double click Module 1.

Well there it is, with this macro you should be able to tackle any vertically tabulated column of data and manipulate it into a useable database.

Before I sign off thanks go to Jerry Beaucaire on the Excel Forum for the neat peice of code.  Jerry also has his own Excel Assistant web site where you can leave a donation if you found this code useful.