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My 3 x Great Grandfather – Census Registrar

September 3, 2021

William Morison

My 3 x great grandfather William MORISON was born in 1780 at Glenshiel, Ross-Shire, Scotland, to parents Alexander MORISON and Margaret MacLEOD. In 1817, William married Jennat MacRAE at Glenshiel. They had a large family of eleven children – eight boys and three girls, including a set of twins, a boy and a girl, who passed away shortly after their birth. Their second child Farquhar was my great great grandfather, who arrived in Australia in 1848.

William was the schoolmaster at the parochial school in Glenshiel. He was also the Registrar for the area. At census time he was the census registrar. After his death in 1860, both positions, went to his eldest son Alexander MORISON, who passed them on to his brother, James. Their sister,Jane, eventually took on the positions, which it appears she kept until her retirement.

About The Census

The census provides a snapshot of the people at a particular address on a given night. This information can be used to further your search for direct ancestors, to broaden your knowledge of the local community and to act as a bridge between the statutory registers and parish records. An official census of population has been taken every ten years since 1801 with the exception of 1941. Little information about individuals survives for 1801 to 1831. From 1841 to 1911 enumerators copied information from schedules completed by heads of households and of smaller institutions into enumeration books for each district”. –

Census Registrar

As district census registrar it was William Morison’s responsiblity to ensure that all residents of the area, completed the census. He usually wrote a comment about the area, and why there may have been changes to the population numbers. These comments are really interesting for me, as a family historian in general and as his 3 x great granddaughter. In some cases his comments allow me to get inside his head and understand his thoughts about the area.

Registrars Comments – 1841 census

On the 1841 census William’s comments were attributed to the Schoolmaster, however in subsequent census he was referred to as the Census Registrar.

Registrars Comments – 1851 Census

Remarks of Schoolmaster of other Person appointed to divide the Parish by the Sheriff or Provost
1st. That the population has increased since 1831 to the number of thirty, which may be attributed to many strangers being introduced into the Parish. In the case of shepherds, the consequence of the Parish being converted into sheep walks, so that the greatest part of the population are crowded in a state of poverty along the ? coast
2nd. To an amount of strangers happening to be lodging on the night of 6th June?
Absent at the Linlithgow Railroad …..of ….this parish at an average of 25.
William Morison
Emigrated to America since 1831. Four families consisting 25 persons.
To Australia two families of 10 persons

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One Comment
  1. Dear Jennifer – I am thinking you could have a lot of fun with maps here trying to work out that unreadable writing on the census form. Have you looked at the maps for the area through NLS? Also I’m a bit confused by the years at the beginning. Was William born in 1822 and then married in 1817??? or was it 1802 and 1817? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick. I would be so excited to find an ancestor as an enumerator. I am interested that the job was passed down through the family. And I love the first photo. Very evocative.

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