We next catch up with the Pike family on the night of April 2nd 1871, when the census clerk came knocking on the door of 131 Broad Street, Frome.
Things are much better now. For a start, Elisha isn't in prison and none of the family are in the workhouse.
Elisha is working as a wheelwright, which must be paying well. They are occupying a whole house, unlike many of their time, who rented just one or two rooms in which to raise their entire family.
His income is supplemented by the fact that two of their children are now working too. Charles, who is now a strapping seventeen year old, is out in the fields as an agricultural laborer. His sister, Emily Jane, has also left school. She's found work as a wool picker.
There's some discrepancy here in both of their ages. Ten years previously, they were 6 and 3 respectively. They're now 17 and 15. Either Eliza is no good at remembering numbers, or she found some reason to lie to either the census clerk in 1861 or his successor in 1871.
Double-checking with birth registers, we find that the 'error' was in the previous census. Herein lies those little hidden gems, which give insight into the mentality and intelligence of those long dead ancestors.
Eliza Pike lied about her eldest children's ages in 1861, but she was in the workhouse at the time. There was method here. Children under the age of two were automatically left with their mothers. She didn't have to worry about Alice and Sarah Ann, because they were so young. Hence their ages scale correctly in this census.
Children under the age of seven could only remain with their mothers by the grace of the warden. Emily Jane was five, which placed her smack in the middle of this two to seven years age range. Her mother knocked a couple of years off her daughter's age, possibly to sway his decision.
Charles was seven. There is no way he shouldn't have been separated into a ward for boys aged 7-14. They would have received some schooling, but they would also have been worked hard in actual labor. In some cases, children were sold as indentured workers to large factories or farms. If that occurred, then their parents could not recover them, even if their own circumstances changed.
By telling the warden that Charles was only six, Eliza bought time. She knew that Elisha would be out of prison in four months and that would possibly signal her own release from the workhouse. She just had to keep her family together long enough for that to happen.
This is all pure conjecture, but a little knowledge of the Victorian workhouse and its rules, linked with census information, suddenly shows us the caliber of Eliza Pike's mind. It worked too! Because she did get to take all of her children home again, as the 1871 census proves.
The data also prompts us to assume that Elisha was forgiven for the whole larceny incident. Two more children have been born to the couple during the past ten years. Fanny Maria is six years old and her toddler brother, Walter, is just one.