Mark Twain is generally credited with the assertion that there are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics, and I have no doubt that a lot of people would agree with him. Certainly, for many people the mention of statistics seems to provoke something between cynical disbelief and uncomprehending boredom. This is unfortunate, for statistics provide a useful dimension to many subjects, and family history is one of them. By looking at the numbers in our database, we can examine trends such as birth rates and lifespans, and show the movement of the various families around the country, and indeed the world. This article sets out some of the statistics taken from the database as it exists at the end of September 1992.
I have often been asked what proportion of the names in the database are actually Lin(d)field. Of the 4761 records at present, a total of 2887 are either Linfield or Lindfield. Whilst a good many of the remainder are the spouses of Lin(d)fields and their families, there are also details of unrelated families who have some association with the family, for example the owners of estates on which Lin(d)fields have lived or worked. In addition, there are still some entries which show an older variant of the name such as Lynfeild. (For ease of searching in the computer, all variants are usually shown in one of the two current forms, with the original spelling shown in the notes. However some of the early entries have yet to be altered in this way.) At present there are more Linfield than Lindfield records, and this is always likely to be the case, if only because the Linfield version of the name is much older.
If we count the entries of each spelling in the current telephone directories, the numbers are 118 Linfield and 218 Lindfield, which gives an indication of the relative numbers amongst the current generations. These figures do not include the U.S.A. as we only have a complete listing of one spelling at the present time.
We can also use the computer to add up the numbers of records on each of the major branches of the family trees. I have also shown, in brackets, the number of members currently shown as linked to each branch. The numbers work out as follows:
I have only included the records on the main Nuthurst branch from Richard (#1308) onwards, in order to give a comparison with the numbers descending from Julian Linfield of Bolney, with whom Richard was more or less contemporary. If we include the records for Richard’s ancestors, on the basis of the somewhat conjectural information given by Stanford Smith, this adds some twenty or thirty to the total for the Nuthurst branch.
If we look at the addresses of the members we find that of the 72 members at the end of October, 23 (or some 32%), are resident in West Sussex and a total of 50 (69%) in the Home Counties and London. Of the remaining members 9 (or 13%) are in Canada, Australia or the United States and the rest are scattered around England.
When we have finished collecting and entering all the birth references from St Catherine’s House, I will be able to analyse that information using the dates and registration district codes, to show how the numbers of births varied with time through the 19th century, and how the Lin(d)field families spread around the country. This analysis will form part of the introduction to the complete St Catherine’s Index which we hope to publish during the early part of next year.