William Weight : advice on variations

William Weight married in his 40s, died in his 80s, and doesn’t seem to have left much of a mark on the world.

But having taken a photo of his and wife Isabella’s grave, at Beacon Edge Cemetery, Penrith, I ‘owe’ it to them to carry things through and tell their story.

It illustrates the need for anyone researching a less-common surname to consider all possible variations if they hit a brick wall.

William Weight

Puzzling over the photo, my first thought was ‘William Wright’. Based on ‘that’s a common surname’. But it didn’t look like an R. 

And when some digging in online records showed it was William Weight, it didn’t get me much further.

  • 1891 Round Thorn, Shap. Isabella Weight is on her own, living on her own means. Born Warcop abt 1812.
  • 1881 Shap. William Weight, born Carlisle about 1805, income from houses.Plus Isabella.

And that’s where it got harder

Always try variations

If you are stuck with a gap in census returns for an ancestor, there are things you can try.

If you know where they were living, you can try their first name, plus year of birth and location, plus a family member. 

You can also consider how the original census enumerator might have misheard or mis-spelled the name. And the same with the person who transcribed it for the genealogy site index.

If you are using The Genealogist, you can add a key word, such as occupation, to narrow down the options. Though in this case, the occupation is too vague to be of use.

Found them!

  • 1871 Shap. William is a retired farmer, plus Isabella. Transcribed as ‘Wright’.
  • 1868 March . House and field for sale, about 1.45 acres of land, and outbuildings, at Newton Gates Apply William Weight, the occupier.
  • 1861. Newton Gate, near Penrith. William, landed proprietor and Isabella, born Kirkby Stephen. Entered on original document as ‘White’ by the enumerator. 
  • 1860. At St Andrew’s Penrith, William Weight, Newton Gates, to Miss Isabella Atkinson. If right, it’s a ‘late’ marriage. William was about 55, Isabella about 47. No use looking for children.

Isabella Atkinson, aged 36, was a domestic servant in Kirkby Stephen in 1851. 

There’s a William Wight baptised St Mary, Carlisle, in 1804. Which could be another variation.

And that’s it

Sometimes, there is no ‘story’. People were born, grew up, made their way in life, married (or not), carried on with things, and finally died without ever stirring the ripples of the local universe. 

It is disappointing for anyone hoping to find out more about them. But given the stories that made the news, in the past as now, were largely dramas, crimes, tragedies… perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

Beacon Edge Cemetery

This post is one of a series on people buried at Beacon Edge, above Penrith.

Others include publican Thomas Dixon and the local bonesetters, the Dennison family.

And Charles Gilder, a yeast merchant.


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