Today I spent quite a lot of time making use of the OriginsNet free offer for 4 July, and seeing what I could find. The most useful things were the 1841 and 1871 censuses, though they are not fully indexed, and some of the images did not display properly.
But they seemed to have Bristol and Somerset fairly well covered, and I looked up my great great great grandparents, Simon and Rachel Hayes, in the 1841 census, and think I may have found a clue to a long-standing mystery.
Ages ago one of the first censuses we found (Bedminster 1851) showed John Hayes (son of Simon and Rachel) and a cousin staying with him, Elena Purnell, aged 17.
Ever since then we've looked for a Purnell connection, but have never found it in more than 20 years of searching.
But in 1841 Simon and Rachel were staying in a household that included Ann Purnell, aged 45, and two younger Purnells, and an Emily Tripp aged 4. This was in Paul Street, Bedminster, Bristol. It seems possible, then, that Ann was Rachel's sister. We know what happened to her other two sisters -- one married Giles Williams, and the other married George Hill, but what happened to Ann was a mystery. So now we have to find her marriage to a Purnell, to confirm this, and also that she had a daughter Elena, and another loose end will be tied up.