If you're a part of any family history forum or group, it's not unusual to find a genealogist bemoaning the spelling and handwriting, or casting aspersions on the intentions of a particular Census Enumerator. We recently shared this image on our Facebook page and our followers certainly appeared to see the veracity behind the humour:
However, we then came across this poem which seems to lay at least some of the blame at the feet of our ancestors!
(Please note that this was published in 1881, and we haven't been able to see the original)
The Enumerators Complaint
The census may be good and right and useful to the human natur'
But I can swear there's no delight
In being an enumerator;
For up and down six blessed streets,
I've tramped it morning after morning,
And the reception that one meets
Should I serve as a most wholesome morning.
This house, their writing isn't plain;
That house, their language is exotic;
And some describe themselves as sane,
Who seem to me quite idiotic.
Towns such as countess never knew
Are given as the natal places;
While you're supposed to find what's true,
And to correct in faulty cases.
Then ladies of a certain age
Decline to make it clear by telling;
And others fly into a rage,
And oh, such awful slips and spelling!
And some deduce - in humour bold -Their line from non-existent nations,
And state they've grown uncommon old
In most unheard of occupations.
Here, you perceive that you intrude;
And here, the party's an objector;
And here, they are positively rude -They fancy you're the tax collector.
So what with humbug and rebuff,
And cutting many fruitless capers,
I have already had enough,
And cry - Confound these census papers!
We complain about the enumerators; they pass the buck on to the public. It seems that in the taking of the census, the old adage needs updating: