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1901 census help please - can't find two people


Hello. I'd really appreciate it if someone could help me find Samuel Kirkman, born 1846 in Ainsworth Lancashire and his wife Eleanor Kirkman born 1867. They married in 1893.
I can't find them anywhere on the 1901 census, either together or apart. Their children are also staying with relatives on the 1901 census. Samuel and Eleanor appear together again with two of their children on the 1911 census in Bolton.
Is it just a simple case of them being abroad?
I think something may have happened because the children are staying with relatives or am I just being thick and I've missed them?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.