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Census 1841 Case Study: Dr William Henry Weekes

Dr. William Henry Weekes was the parish surgeon for the town of Sandwich (Kent). In 1841 he was conducting experiments with electricity in his laboratory at 43, High Street.

In William Sturgeon's Annals of Electricity for 1841, Weekes records that: "An interesting and intelligent little girl, about 14 years of age and who was in the habit of witnessing scenes of this description, while handing to me some articles of apparatus incident to my purpose, accidentally stood upon the wire and such was the severity of the lateral shock thereby incurred, that she was sent reeling across the laboratory."

Extract from 'The Mysterious Dr. Weekes' by Alan Twyman

The Research:

My first step was to log on to TheGenealogist website at: I decided to use their Keyword Master Search.

In the forename field I entered: William.

In the surname field I entered: Weekes.

In the keywords field I entered: Surgeon (his occupation).

I obtained 1 match for 1841:

William Weekes, age 45, Surgeon, in the Kent 1841 Census.

Alan Twyman's book mentioned that Dr. Weekes was baptised on March 7th, 1790 and that his laboratory was situated in Sandwich High Street. Although his age was incorrect, I decided to click to view the original image.

The book also mentioned that for one of his experiments, Dr. Weekes had strung an insulated wire from the tower of the church of St Peter's to the tower of the church of St Clement's and had arranged a connection from the centre of the wire, via a neighbour's chimney, to his laboratory, at 43 High Street.

From that piece of information, I deduced that the High Street must have been part of St Peter or St Clement's Parish.

Although his age was not accurately recorded as he should have been 50 not 45 (typical of the five year accuracy of census material), the rest of the information left me in no doubt that I had finally found my man...

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