I have several books on Family History tracing, and the reason that they give for these differences in spelling is that earlier Census Returns were taken at a time when a good percentage of the population were illiterate.
Census Officials were sent around the area visiting people in their homes and recording the information as they were told it.
A good example of the confusion created was the recording in one area of the Irwin family.
Although they were all close relatives, their names were recorded as Irwin, Irvine, Erwin, Erving, Ervine, Urwin, Urving and Urvine.
I have encountered this illiteracy on several Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates, where the signatures are entered as, “The mark of “Joe Bloggs”, followed by a X”, and surprisingly, not in too far distance past.
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