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10 February 2014

Did Your Ancestor Look Older than He Was?

If your ancestor's ages are inconsistent consider that he (or she) may have looked older than he actually was. It may be that he provided his age for certain records and the censustaker or records clerk guessed his age for others.

That's one reason ages may be inconsistent--the informants may be different and one informant may have been better informed than another.

Your ancestor may have known exactly how old he was--it could be that others who did not know his age were providing information on him.

Even when he was alive.


  1. I specialize in Irish Ancestry Research. I find that the vast majority of Irish immigrants into the US claimed to be younger than they can now be proved to have been. Most were semi-literate, at best, and could not accurately recall or understand their DOB's. Few carried or ever had a birth cert, but most Catholics had access to a baptismal certificate (back home). It is my opinion that members of the Irish immigrant manual workforce deliberately under-reported their ages in order to be more appealing to prospective employers.
    Of course, in the case of Irish ladies and housewives, the deceit was pure vanity!

    1. This is so true. Have aunties who have passed and we never knew for sure their ages. The phrase was: You don't ask a lady her age.
      End of discussion.