Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The COCP and Birth place data

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.


Rick said...

Basically I think it is ignorance.

they don't realise the place name is a county. e.g. Cork, Dublin.

they forget that we want the county codes at all.

they often would end up with a blank place name field which no one seems to like. I reminded a senior coord recently that a dash is acceptable in most fields if there was no data.

I will submit the last one as my entry.

Di said...

whenever I have looked up anything with a name in Ireland, I do not have any Chapman codes, maybe we should have another database?


Di said...

I think many of us checkers/transcribers have just been using the Genie place name search, I certainly hadn't realised there was a separate list of Chapman codes to use


Chris said...

I think it's because of the current day use in addresses of e.g. (Parish), Co. Dublin, Ireland, which leads itself to entering IRL, Dublin if there is no parish given in the census record. It could also be a result of the not so current view that the Counties of the Republic were ever English Counties at all at all!

Chris said...

There is a good site listing all codes at