The guiding principle of the COCP is to transcribe “as is”. When applied to the place of birth data, this produces a slight problem. Many of the Cornish place names have a number of variations in spelling. St Hilary is a good example; there are about six different ways of spelling it and they can all come with or without the “St”. However, we are not conducting family history research; we are providing a tool for those people who are. They ought to be able to work out what the place name is on their own.
The book I often quote, by Edward Higgs, says that Cornwall is particularly prone to variations in place name spellings.
The enumerator’s instructions asked that from 1851 onwards, householders state the county and parish or town of birth. Frequently, the place named is a farm or other place, not a parish or town. Sometimes, even a street name or other address is given.
We just transcribe the enumerator’s words.
The enumeration instructions only required the county name for Irish or Scots. If, like me, you have Irish ancestors, this is particularly annoying. Its even worse when they just say Ireland or Scotland. For places like London, where all it says is London, this is treated as a county; just enter LND in the County field and a hyphen for place born.
Now for an innovation – a competition! There will be a prize for the volunteer who can explain to me why no one uses the Chapman codes for Irish Counties. It is not just the COCP volunteers, the Nth Wilts and Warwickshire ones are just the same. I am not sure what the prize will be for the best explanation – I’ll think of something.