Sunday, September 1, 2013

Some interesting statistics

St Matthew's church Rastrick
where Matthew Ward and Elizabeth Brown
were married in 1890
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Tim Green:
Recently I've been looking at the marriage records for the family of my grandfather, Thomas Henry Ward. While I was writing up the results, it occurred to me that he and his siblings almost all married quite late in life. Apart from Matthew, who married Elizabeth Brown at the age of 22, they were all over 26 years old when they married.

John Willie was 28 when he married Mary Hannah Butterworth, Esther was 28 when she married Travis Kershaw, and Edward married Susan Lord Sagar at 30. Henrietta married John Henry Christopher Massey at 26, and by the time Fanny married the widowed John Henry Christopher she was 59 years old. Grandfather Thomas Henry himself was 38 when he married.

I haven't been able to find figures for the average age at marriage in England around this time (the end of the 19th and beginning of the early 20th century). What I have been able to do is analyse the age at first marriage for various cohorts within my own database, using the software I use for recording family history (Roots Magic).  

Admittedly the numbers are very small. But for what it's worth, here are the results, using only those individuals for whom I have both a date of birth and date of marriage:

For those born before 1865 (John Willie's date of birth), the average age at marriage was 25.94 years for men and 23.28 for women. The average number of children per family was 3.63.

For those born after 1865 the average age at marriage for men was 26.35 and for women 26.47. Clearly, Fanny's very late marriage affected this figure. If I take her out of the list, the average age of marriage for women becomes 24.31 - still a good year older than women born before 1865. The average number of children per family was 1.55.

This drop in the number of children per family is also something quite noticeable. Compared to, say, Richard and Mary Ward (married in 1831) with their 9 children, or James and Rosanna Beales (married 1867) with their 15 children, or even Thomas Henry's own parents, John and Mary Ward (married 1864) with 9 children, Thomas Henry's generation had very few offspring. Matthew and Elizabeth had 6, and the rest of the family had 4 or less. In fact, 6 children is the largest family for anyone in my database born after 1865.

It's interesting to speculate on why Thomas Henry and his siblings married so late in life, but I don't have any answers. Grandfather Thomas Henry may have married earlier if it hadn't been for World War 1, but he was already 32 and still unmarried when the war began. As is often the case in family history research, finding the facts is much easier than explaining them.

No comments:

Post a Comment