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James Kirkman

Hi, Can anyone help me trace my grandfather James Kirkman on the 1881 census; born 1842 in Pilkington Lancashire. On the 1861 census he is listed as a millwright mechanic. Ten years later in 1871 he turns up on the Scottish census , Registration District Row, Civil Parish, Vessels. in Dunbartonshire as a chief engineer. No trace in 1881 but in 1885 he married Ann Eliza Bilbe in Islington. In 1891 Ann Eliza is shown as head of household because her husband James appears on the census return headed up "List of officers, crew and others on board the ship or vessel named - S. S. Camperdown - on the night of Sunday April 5th 1891" James is listed as 2nd engineer. I can only assume that he was at sea somewhere at the 1881 census, but why wasn't he registered? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks
terry k

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