An absence explained?

By the time of the 1881 Census, the Edleman family along with my grandfather had moved to 17 Gildart Street, a distance of less than 120 feet (37 metres) from their previous address at 63 Blandford Street.

More than 100 years later, Sarah’s great-granddaughter would move house from one end of a suburban Sydney street to the other – a distance of 350 metres – causing a few smiles among the removalists.

Returning to nineteenth century Liverpool, the tell-tale court layout and notes on the above map confirm that the family exchanged one back to back dwelling for another.  According to Harvey Kaplan, rented apartments were “passed around” as families expanded and contracted, so the Gildart Street premises may have been larger than those at Blandford Street. IMG_3051

And the above Latter Day Saints transcript of the 1881 English Census gives a hint as to why.  It shows that eight persons were living at 17 Gildart Street: Sarah and her two young children, her father, sister and young child, and two boarders.

The riddle of Sarah’s missing husband, however, remained.  Where was Harris Edleman at the time of the 1881 Census?

Another blogger has suggested that around 10% of population is missing from British Census counts.  I don’t doubt that this is true and for some time felt that this must have been Harris’ fate.

However, evidence I recently uncovered via the Latter Day Saints Community Trees database tells a different story.


According to Saul Marks, who has separately been undertaking research for me on the Edleman family’s life in England and South Africa, the notes to the entry above are taken from the inscription on Harris’ gravestone in Edinburgh.

They confirm that between 1878 and 1911, his primary address was in South Africa.

We know that he was in Liverpool in December 1878 on the occasion of his  marriage to my great-grandmother.  He must also have spent some time in the company of his new wife in the early part of 1879 in order for her to have fallen pregnant.

But after that, I feel that Harris Edleman most likely returned to South Africa.

He was not necessarily present at the time of his first son’s birth in December 1879.  There is only one mark on Joseph Edleman’s birth certificate and it is Sarah’s.  This contrasts with my grandfather’s birth certificate on which his father’s signature is inscribed.

By the time of the 1881 English Census, he would have been in South Africa.

Between early 1879 and 1881, Harris Edleman appears to have been a most itinerant husband, father and step father.


One thought on “An absence explained?

  1. Pingback: The missing years fall away | In search of Harris

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s