IVENS is not a common name, but the family is much bigger than one first imagines.

There is a large and spreading family which, in the 17th and 18th centuries, was based in the villages around Warwick, starting it seems in Harbury, Warwickshire, but then soon spreading across the County, and into Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. There is also a large showing in Wales, usually in Glamorgan or Monmouthshire.

(There are also lines in Belgium and Holland which might have been the origins of some in the USA. But many in USA, Canada and Australia can be traced back to the English and Welsh families)

Notable locations were:

  • Warwickshire
    • Harbury, Grandborough, Bishops Itchngton, Eydon, Long Compton, Napton, Churchover, Wolfhampcote, Snitterfield, Priors Marston, Barford, Southam, Harborough Magna, Budbrooke, Lighthorne, Hampton Lucy, Clifton upon Dunsmore, Kineton, Alcester, Willoughby, Lower Shuckburgh, Shipston and more besides.
  • Northamtonshire
    • Butlers Marston, Daventry, Woodford, Morton Pinkney, Thrapston, Cranford, Badby, Long Buckby
  • Oxfordshire
    • Caversham, Swinbrook, Wroxton
  • Leicestershire
    • Lutterworth
  • Kent
    • Maidstone, Erith and Strood
  • London / Middlesex
    • St Pancras, Islington, Clerkenwell
  • Hampshire
    • Portsmouth, Southampton and Isle of Wight
  • Buckinghamshire
    • Marsh Gibbon, Fenny Stratford, Water Eaton, Bletchley
  • Bedfordshire
    • Bedford, Dunstable and Sandy
  • Staffordshire
    • Penkridge, Brierley Hill, Drayton Bassett, Sedgley

(N.B. County boundaries seem to drift, or people’s idea of which county they were in, or born in, varies. Sometimes on the same entry in the same census. Near Moreton is a place called ‘Four Shire Post’ which highlights the problem in this neck of the woods)

Plus, of course, they can be found in the major towns and cities such as Bristol, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Coventry, Stratford, Lincoln, Leicester, West Bromwich, Burton on Trent, Manchester, Liverpool, Stafford, Leamington, Rugby and Northampton.

In the UK census from 1841 – 1891, the average number of people listed as ‘Ivens’ was 551, with variations as follows:

  • 1841 – 467 (UK) + 10 (Sco) + 30 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1851 – 424 (UK) + 12 (Sco) + 26 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1861 – 463 (UK) + 9 (Sco) + 32 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1871 – 555 (UK) + 12 (Sco) + 50 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1881 – 608 (UK) + 0 (Sco) + 42 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1891 – 621 (UK) + 4 (Sco) + 58 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1901 – 655 (UK) + 3 (Sco) + 69 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins
  • 1911 – 620 (UK) + 0 (Sco) + 107 (Wal) – Ivens + Ivins

Before one gets too excited about the apparent sudden increase in 1871, I should point out that I am in the process of exploring the alternative spelling ‘Ivins’ in the census archives, and am working, as far as possible, to eliminate duplicates. The total number on my database is currently 6549 individuals.

It is a slow process as two people with the same first name and of the same declared age, and at the same place, are NOT necessarily the same person.

Census records are notorious for rounding ages down, and people often ‘forgot’ how old they were, sometimes shaving a year or two off the age. Sometimes there are real reasons for pretending to be older than one is – for employment for example.

People also change their ‘known-by’ name. A small child might start off as Nellie only to prefer to use her 2nd name once she grows up, perhaps formalizing Nellie into Ellen on the way. I myself, am christened Charles David but generally use only David. Added to that, I have moved around quite a bit including a stint in Australia. So I won’t be easy to track in two hundred years’ time.

Spelling is another difficulty with Ann vs Anne; Sarah Ann vs Sarahan; Katherine vs Kate vs Catherine, Mary vs Marie, Anna vs Hannah. And of course handwriting and subsequent transcription causes countless problems. ‘Ivens’ written in script can close the ‘e’ and so it appears as ‘Ivins’; Spoken dialect will have an effect as names are sometimes written phonetically; Initials are often confused, especially ‘J’ and ‘I’ and ‘T’; ‘M’ can appear as ‘W’.

Many marriage certificates have been signed by the bride and groom with their mark – an ‘X’. So, the name on the public record has been written  by the vicar, phonetically, and if he were hard of hearing, or his spelling a bit limited, it is no wonder that the name gets transmuted to other spellings.

Often, it is only the inferred information on a census entry (the guest, the son in Law, the stated relationships, occupation, the street address, the birth town, father’s name, mother’s maiden name) plus other records such as Probate and Wills, that enable one to link two records that might otherwise go unconnected.

The top 20 names are:

  1. Mary – 402
  2. William – 369
  3. John – 335
  4. Elizabeth – 305
  5. Thomas – 274
  6. Sarah – 223
  7. James – 129
  8. Ann – 124
  9. Charles – 107
  10. Richard – 101
  11. Jane – 95
  12. Joseph – 94
  13. George – 89
  14. Edward – 88
  15. Margaret – 77
  16. Robert – 74
  17. Alice – 67
  18. Henry – 66
  19. Frederick – 66
  20. Annie – 54

The first time some names appear in these records is interesting:

  • Dorothie – 1607
  • Bettye – 1798
  • Prudence – 1804
  • Phoebe – 1816
  • David – 1821
  • Maude – 1824
  • Priscilla – 1826
  • Melicent – 1829
  • Janet – 1830
  • Susan – 1831
  • Dora – 1833
  • Alison – 1838
  • Helen – 1846

As for industry, most of the English Ivens were farmers (or any of the associated specialities such as shepherd, cowman, cattle dealer, dairyman, groom, grazier, timber merchant, gamekeeper) or just general agricultural labourers in the early 18th century. Many were attracted to the railways either as labourers or engineers as that industry took hold, and many besides had their own businesses in drapery, millinery or tailor or other retail establishments such as innkeeper, grocer, butcher, baker etc., or trades such as builders and bricklayers, bicycle makers and repairers, harness makers. coach makers, wheelrights, carpenter, blacksmith or plasterer.

Again, depending on the type of work available in the area, many took up mining or stone quarry work or joined the military, and Coventry was alive with ribbon and silk weavers. As factories emerged, one can see a drift to those type of occupations where one is concentrating on just one small element of the whole process: E.g. ‘Static Engine Driver’, ‘Stoker’, ‘Cashier’, ‘Card Room Operative’ (Cotton), ‘Post Office Sorter’ or just ‘Clerk’ come to mind.

Sons often followed fathers in those times, and families quite often had to move around to find work, presumably. Daughters invariably became dressmakers, or shop assistants or went into service as general domestic servants, and sometimes cooks or nurse maids, and some elevated themselves into teachers, governesses and school mistresses. Laundry was a fall-back for older women, it seems, but many had no occupation at all and therefore can be assumed to be running the household – no mean task with large families to take care of.

Later, more formal businesses arose: solicitors, accountants, doctor, surgeon, a chain of retail stores, editor, insurance broker, and with that commercial travellers and civil service and Customs inspectors arrive.