You can make quantum leaps in your family tree with the 1911 Census. That's IF you know what to look for. I hadn't managed to find any of the Williams family (maternal great grandparents) in ANY census so it didn't look good for the 1911 Census.
I used Find My Past to look them up. You can buy credits rather than a subscription which suits me as I don't like too much going out of my bank account when not much goes in. Whilst normally it's good to have more information, with their search system sometimes it's worth just putting in names and a year of birth. It doesn't cost anything to view the overall list.
So, starting with what we know ... I put in Nan's and Uncle Arthur's names and date of birth then clicked to see the household. There was Aunt Kate too so I had the right household BUT I could see the reason I couldn't find them before. Their parents were not Francis and Elizabeth Williams but Henry James and Mary Ann Williams. Digging further back found the censuses showing they were both born in Southampton, which we knew so that was more confirmation. It's back to my roots for me then!
Mum knew her grandmother as Bessie, not Mary. Could this be because her mother was Bess? A lot of families called their children by different names, or a variation. John was "named after Bill". Don't go there ... the name changing in the Mangan family gets ridiculous. George Edward Jubilee Mangan was always known as Sam for another daft example.
For further confirmation of the Williams family I got on to Mum again. When I asked her a few months ago she couldn't remember the names of Nan's older siblings and thought the family had lost touch. I read out the names. I don't always do that as you need to get corroboration without giving the relative any clues but there was nothing to lose here. "I remember George, he worked with his Dad in the brewery. What do you call the people who make the barrels?" A cooper!! And there they are on the census under occupation: Cooper.
If you're a member of the family and you'd like to see full details on the Ancestry tree please join the private site at www.horswillfamily.com and you'll see it on there. Ancestry members: the tree is called Horswill and Hills Families.
The 1911 Census also provided some interesting details of John's family on his Mum's side. I found a John Hipson (John's great grandfather) who was in prison. The only John Hipson in London. I thought I'd better keep quiet about it until Maureen said "Did she find the one who was always in and out of prison?" Mind you, in those days you would go to prison for an offence that wouldn't even get you an ASBO today.
As for the Horswills - I found out what happened to Lizzie Jane. Details on the private site later.
For those interested in the 1991 Census we have a new Facebook group HERE.