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Hispanic Liverpool | Methodology

Parameters | Phase 1: The Census | Phase 2: Church and Civil Records and Other Data

Parameters | Back to top

  • The database collects records of individuals born in the Luso-Hispanic world who passed through or settled in Liverpool during the long nineteenth century.
  • 'Luso-Hispanic world' in this context refers to any country or territory where Portuguese or Spanish was an official language. In practice, this normally means current or former possessions of the Portuguese or Spanish Empires. The map below left shows where Spanish (yellow), Portuguese (blue) and related languages are spoken today. Other than the southern US and southern France, it broadly reflects the Luso-Hispanic world as used in this project (click the map to expand).
  • 'Liverpool' in this context includes the City of Liverpool and the central part of the current county of Merseyside. This means chiefly areas that are now included in the Boroughs of Sefton and Knowsley, but not Wirral or St Helens - see the map below right for more information (click the map to expand).
  • The 'long nineteenth century' in this context incorporates the period from approximately 1800 to the First World War.


Phase 1: The Census | Back to top

  • The first phase of work searched census records to identify individuals born in the Luso-Hispanic world and residing in Liverpool on the nights of the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses. The earliest publically available census, for 1841, does not include information about place or country of birth and was therefore not used in the first phase. Read the UK National Archive's Research Guide for more information about the UK Census.
  • The decision was taken to select solely on the grounds of birth country as stated on the census, ignoring citizenship and other factors. The database thus records British citizens (or citizens of other countries) born in the Luso-Hispanic world, but not Spanish, Portuguese or other foreign citizens born in Britain. The database therefore does not currently include second-generation migrants who may have retained the foreign citizenship of their parents.
  • Use of the 'search' functions of both Ancestry and Find My Past was combined with manual searching in areas of high Luso-Hispanic settlement.
  • The principal categories of information recorded were: Place/Registration district, address, full name, age on census night, relation to head of house, occupation, citizenship (where stated).
  • Details were transcribed exactly as recorded by the enumerator, with the following exceptions: Each occupation was assigned to a category (e.g. maritime, education, commerce, labour) in order to facilitate analysis; where only a place of birth but not a country was given, the birth country was added; where the transcribed version of a name is illegible or ambiguous, I have recorded the most likely version and sought corroboration elsewhere.
  • WARNING! Census data is notoriously unreliable. Householders may not have been literate, which meant that the census enumerator would have to complete the form on their behalf. If householders did not speak English, a neighbour or other person might have acted as interpreter - or the enumerator might just have tried to complete the form from the limited communication possible. Foreign names were often transcribed phonetically or approximately. People might not have known their surname, age or place of birth, in which case the enumerator might have recorded 'NK' (Not Known), or he might have taken a guess. All of this means we should take census data as an indicator only, and seek corroboration and proof from other sources.


Phase 2: Church and Civil Records and other Data | Back to top

The second phase of work, currently in progress, searches a range of record types to flesh out the information found on the census. These include:

  • Church records: Christenings, Marriages, Burials and Confirmations. The majority of Liverpool's Hispanic residents used Roman Catholic churches, especially St Peter's Priory in Seel Street and St Francis Xavier's in Salisbury Street. Church records can be a good source of information about addresses and occupations, while the names of godparents or marriage witnesses can help us to understand wider family and social networks.
  • Civil records: births, marriages, deaths. In England and Wales, registration of births, marriages and deaths has been required since 1837. Many of the indexes (which list name, event type, and the year, quarter and registration district) can be consulted online for free, thanks to the FreeBMD project. The indexes provide the information necessary to purchase a full birth, marriage or death certificate from the UK's General Register Office.
  • Business and Residential Directories. Directories such as Kelly's, Pigot's (both national) or Gore's (local to Liverpool) were published regularly throughout the 19th century and in the case of Kelly's, well into the 20th century. The business section includes details of local businesses arranged by name and type, and of private residents by name and by street address. They can be an excellent way to trace the addresses of both individuals and companies throughout the years, and to learn about the demographic makeup of a street or neighbourhood.
  • Probate Records. The National Probate Calendar (1858-1966) lists key information for each will proved at the National Probate Registry: name and address of the deceased; date and place of death; value of estate; name and profession of each executor. In addition to providing useful information about an individual and their relationships, the National Probate Calendar provides the information necessary to locate the will itself.