Thanks very much for those thoughtful and constructive replies, Peter. I
limited the background information in my original query, as I was focusing
on the 1891 census entry for George and Sarah Johnson.
Because of the brick wall erected by the absence of a marriage certificate
for George and Sarah (I spent hours checking the GRO microfiche index before
FreeBMD covered the appropriate years, and even became a transcriber for
them!), I had to follow up all the leads I could find, and many of them were
Sarah's sister Mary was born in Corby in August 1851, presumably just after
her parents John and Mary (sometimes Maria, nee McLeon, and the only McLeon
in Ireland in c.1850 farmed 19 acres near Creevagh in Mayo) emigrated during
the famine. Her brother William had come over earlier, and is on the
Mansfield censuses from 1861 to 1891, the latter giving his birth place as
Westport, Co. Mayo. It's not surprising that Sarah's sons were named John
and William. I've also followed up on her sister Bridget: she's on the
Walsall 1871 census, with her eldest daughter named Sarah, and her sons
John, Samuel and George.
Sarah was living with her parents in Mansfield when her sons were born, but
I haven't been able to find her on the 1861 census, as there isn't a Sarah
Ward in Mansfield, and no one of that name and of her likely age range
anywhere in England and Wales has given her birthplace as Ireland, let alone
Mayo. Finding her in 1861 for certain would be a great help!
From: Peter R Booth [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 26 May 2011 4:27 AM
To: Barry Johnson; NOTTSGEN(a)rootsweb.com
Subject: Re: [NTT] 1891 Census - George and Sarah JOHNSON
I wonder if they ever married. If not, then George could have left and
Sarah would be free to marry.
If you had told us details of John & William from 1881 census the
picture becomes clearer.
John is living with Sarah's sister Mary (Ward) and her husband Samuel
Phoenix. William is apprenticed to a hairdresser and living on the premises.
I needed to check the marriage to get Mary's maiden name. Mary gives her
birthplace as Mansfield, so Ireland may be a red herring.
I'd recommend you go back to 1851 and 1861 census and trace Mary. It
should lead to Sarah's origins.