Clonmany Genealogy Message Board


Re: Mintiaghs (Barr of Inch) Census Returns -- Dan King Post Reply Genealogy Message Board
Posted by: Dan Devlin - ( 09/19/2003, 15:31:25 )

I was looking at your website and noticed the following:
"The reason for this is unclear, but it may have to do with the O.A.P. Old Age Pension applications from 1908. Did some folks report a different age to qualify for the O.A.P. in 1908? If so, would they then have 'stuck to their story' three years later in the 1911 Census returns?"

I think your on the right track with the OAP thing, but believe it may be just the opposite of what you suggest. I've been told by several "old timers" in Ireland that in the 19th century and into the 20th, they did not celebrate birthdays, and very few people actually knew, or cared, what their date of birth was. I know that many Irish immigrants coming to the states chose March 17th as a birthday of convenience, for obvious reasons. My grandfather's date of birth was changed on many occasions to suit the needs of the occasion:
1901 Census (3/30/01) Age 14 1901 DOB 1887
Draft Age 29 1917 DOB 1888
Marriage (11/23/19) Age 29 1919 DOB 1890
1920 Census Age 32 1920 DOB 1888
Declaration of Intent Age 40 1928 DOB 3/15/1888
Petition for Naturalization
Age 45 1929 DOB 3/15/1888
Per family records DOB 3/30/1884
Actual Date of Birth DOB 3/31/1884
> As for my grandmother, her age also changed significantly depending on the occasion:
Naturalization (1/26/55)Age 72 DOB 1882
1901 Census (3/30/01) Age 16 DOB 1885
Marriage (11/23/19) Age 32 DOB 1887
(she obviously was concerned about being much older than her husband)
Death (10/16/65) Age 83 DOB 1882
Actual DOB 9/12/1882

You can see that in most cases they both passed themselves off as being younger than they actually were and, in the case of my grandfather, his date of birth moves suspiciously close to St. Patrick's day. Anyway, I think that since the OAP application required proof of age using the 1841 and 1851 census returns, that the ages on the OAP document are accurate. That being the case, I believe that many people "discovered" their actual age when they applied for the OAP. The correct age then became a matter of record and was used from 1908 on. The fact that most of the age discrepancies seemed to
make people older in 1911 is in keeping with human vanity. They had been passing themselves off as being much younger than they actually were for all those years until they finally got "caught out" by the OAP documentation and were force to give their real age.

The above is strictly a theory on my part after researching many of my
ancestor's date of birth info, but it's based on many solid facts and
traditions from the time period. Hope this is of some help to you.
Dan Devlin

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