Parentage of George William Underwood

There is a direct, verifiable, family tree link back to George William Underwood, and his life is well documented in regard to his two marriages, census records, and death. However, his birth and parentage are more problematical because his birth occurred before compulsory registration in 1837.

The 1841 census describes him as 20 years old and born in Wiltshire. This would make 1821 his approximate birth date.
The 1851 census describes him as 32 years old and born at Atworth, Wiltshire. This would make 1819 his approximate birth date.
The 1861 census describes him as 42 years old and born at Atworth, Wiltshire. This would make 1819 his approximate birth date.
The 1871 census describes him as 51 years old and born at Atworth, Wiltshire. This would make 1820 his approximate birth date.
The 1881 census describes him as 60 years old and born at Atworth, Wiltshire. This would make 1821 his approximate birth date.
His 1890 death registration describes him as being 70 when he died. This would make 1820 his approximate birth year.

Problems caused by inaccuracies of census and registration documents are well documented and not unusual.   All we can know for certain is that George William Underwood was probably born at Atworth, Wiltshire, and probably born between 1819 and 1821.

Initially I believed his date of birth to be 1819, and for his parents to be John Underwood and Ann Watts who were married at Potterne, Wiltshire on 02 April 1810.   That couple certainly had a son named George Underwood born within the right timescale, but subsequent census reports indicate that ‘their‘ George Underwood is not ‘our‘ George Underwood because both George Underwood‘s are listed in different places in both the 1841 and the 1851 census.

Our‘ George Underwood definitely got married twice, and the children from the first marriage can be traced after the death of their mother as living with their father and step-mother.  However, ‘their‘ George Underwood continued to live at home with his parents into middle age.

At the time of the 1841 Census ‘their‘ George Underwood is still living with his parents, John and Ann, whilst ‘our‘ George Underwood is listed as living with his wife at a different location.  Similarly, at the 1851 Census ‘their‘ George Underwood was still living with his parents, whilst ‘our‘ George Underwood is listed as living with his wife and children.

1841 Census (When ‘our’ George Underwood was married to Maria Lane)

John and Ann’s George Underwood
Silver Street, Potterne, Wiltshire.
John Underwood, m, 55, Ag. Lab born Wiltshire.
Ann Underwood, f, 50, born Wiltshire
George Underwood, m, 24, born Wiltshire.
Ann Underwood, f, 19, born Wiltshire.
John Underwood, m, 17, born Wiltshire.
Ellen Herring, f, born Wiltshire

Our‘ George William Underwood.
Ann Stone, aged 95, widow, born Wiltshire.
Miriam May, aged 75, widow, born Wiltshire.
George Underwood, aged 20, Agricultural Labourer, born Wiltshire.
Maria Underwood, aged 15, born Wiltshire.

1851 Census (When Maria Lane had died and ‘our’ George Underwood had married Matilda Curtis)

John and Ann’s George Underwood
Silver Street, Potterne, Wiltshire.
John Underwood, head, m, 71, born Potterne.
Ann Underwood, wife, f, 67, born Poulshot, Wiltshire
George Underwood, son, m, 32, born Potterne.
Ann Underwood, daughter, f, 28, born Potterne.

Our‘ George William Underwood.
Parish of Barton St Mary, Gloucestershire
George Underwood, head, aged 32, Engine Driver, born Atworth.
Matilda Underwood, wife, aged 20, born Bath.
William George Underwood, son, aged 9, scholar, born Bridgwater, Somerset.
Ann Maria Underwood, daughter, aged 7, scholar, born Gloucester.

So all we can know for certain is that ‘our’ George William Underwood was probably born at Atworth, Wiltshire, and probably born between 1819 and 1821.  Unfortunately, at present, there is no way of getting further back as there are several George William Underwoo’s born at Atworth, Wiltshire in the three years between 1819 and 1821, and there is no current way of deciding which is the correct one.