Weeke local History - Census Records

WEEKE LOCAL HISTORY

CENSUS RECORDS

Although local informal censuses were taken in particular parishes there do not appear to be any such lists for Weeke. A Bill for a national census was put before Parliament in the UK in 1753. There were however fears that a census might incur the wrath of God because a census of the Israelites ordered by King David was followed by a plague which killed 70,000 people. Other opposition was a fear that the results would disclose to foreign enemies the weakness of the country or it would impair individual liberties. The result was the Bill was defeated and the scheme abandoned.

In 1800 a second Census Bill came before Parliament when there was a widespread concern that the growing population would outstrip the country’s ability to grow sufficient food. The bad harvest in 1800 ensured the bill was passed and the first national census took place on 10th March 1801(URL 16).

The census was then taken every ten years with the only gap being 1941 during the second World War. The early censuses for 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 were simply the number of people in each area including there sex and age group. These counts were normally undertaken by the Overseer of the poor and other leading members of the Parish. The 1841 census saw the introduction of a field force of Enumerators who were employed specifically to take the census. The 1841 census was also the first one to use self-completion forms in which were recorded the name of each person in a place on census night and some details about them. This approach of self-completion forms and Enumerators has been used in all censuses since. It is an amazing achievement that the 1841 census was successful because the majority of the population could not read and write (Herber, 2000 p57-63).

Subsequent censuses have added to the extra details requested but otherwise the basic approach has continued. The results of any census can be divided into two groups. Within a short time of taking the census the Government publish information concerning the summary data relating to the census. This includes population numbers in each area, sex of the population age groups etc but not the details of individuals including their name, occupation etc. This latter information is held for 100 years before it is available to the public. This ensures privacy of information since very few people will be still be alive when the detail is published (Hey, 1995 p72).

With the detail information released after 100 years it is possible to reconstruct areas. A problem with the statistical data published is that the areas used to define the data have inevitably changed over time. In the earlier censuses the areas defined were often exactly the ancient parish boundaries. Civil parishes were defined for various administration purposes including taking the census so there can be some variation between the ecclesiastical and civil parish boundaries. In the case of Weeke the earlier censuses were not a problem to define what was equivalent to the ecclesiastical boundary. With the incorporation of Weeke parish within the borough of Winchester the comparison has become more difficult. The Government statistics try to compare the two most recent censuses trying to modify the figures to reflect any change in boundaries. In the case of Weeke recent censuses are based on Wards of Winchester that are difficult to accurately compare to the historic parish. A reasonable approximation can be made and the figures for Weeke from 1801 to 2001 are included in population figures. It can be seen that Weeke in 1801 only had a population of 65 people and this has grown to 11,646 in 2001.

For the censuses since the Enumerators distributed forms (or schedules) to the head of each household. It was expected that the head of the household would complete the form by listing all the people in the household on census night. The Enumerator would then collect the completed forms. If the householder was illiterate or could not complete the form for some other reason then the Enumerator would complete the form by interviewing the householder when he collected the form. This obviously led to many errors because this recording would rely on the Enumerator’s ability to correctly interpret what the householder told him. The obvious problem was the name of an individual, since if the name was unfamiliar to the Enumerator then the resulting name recorded could be variable and sometimes difficult to compare to modern spelling for the name. The Enumerator may also have a major problem with the location that the person gave for the birth place of someone in the household. Many Enumerators may not have had sufficient knowledge of geography to correctly record place names or the correct county. People in charge of military barracks, prisons, hospitals, ships, workhouses or boarding schools had to complete lengthy schedules of all their inmates.

Once the completed forms were collected by the Enumerator they were transcribed into the books and completed tables to calculate the number of people in each enumeration district. The Enumerator’s books were kept and the householder’s forms were destroyed for the censuses from 1841 to 1901. As well as the problems the Enumerator had recording details where the Householder had not completed the form, there are inevitable transcription errors when the details were transferred to the Enumerator’s book. To further complicate the situation the Enumerator’s book is in manuscript and the handwriting can be difficult to read. After the book was completed various marks were added as counts etc were generated. Sometimes these additional marks can cover information that is then difficult to transcribe.

The Census Enumerator book pages relating to Weeke have been transcribed for all the censuses from 1841 to 1901. These censuses were undertaken on:-

  • 6th June 1841
  • 30th March 1851
  • 7th April 1861
  • 2nd April 1871
  • 3rd April 1881
  • 5th April 1891
  • 31st March 1901

The following information was requested for each census with various differences:

  • Name of street, place, road, etc.
  • House number or name
  • Name of each person that had spent the night in that household
  • Age (in the 1841 census, the ages of people over 15 years old were usually rounded down to the nearest 5 years. Therefore, someone who was actually 34 years would have their age listed as 30, and someone who was actually 37 years old would have their age listed as 35. In the Weeke census it seems the Enumerator did not follow this instruction fully. In subsequent censuses the age was recorded as quoted by the householder.)
  • Sex (indicated by which column the age is recorded in)
  • Profession or occupation (in the 1891 and 1901 censuses an additional column was provided whether the person was an employer, an employee, own account etc).
  • Where born (in the 1841 census the "Where Born" column only asked two questions - 1) whether born in same county, and 2) whether born in Scotland, Ireland, or Foreign Parts. Possible answers and abbreviations to question 1 include: Yes (Y), No, (N), or Not Known (NK). For question 2, the following abbreviations were used: Scotland (S), Ireland (I), and Foreign Parts (F).In subsequent censuses the birth place in England would include the place and county. Outside England the place would normally only be the country.
  • Whether the person was deaf, blind or idiot (this was introduced in the 1851 census and expanded in the 1871 and subsequent censuses to include options for dumb, imbecile, or lunatic).

The Transcription of Weeke censuses have been based on the appropriate microfilmed enumerator’s books and the transcriptions use a standard table format. This has columns as follows:-

  1. HOUSEHOLD NUMBER. In most of the censuses the Enumerator starts the recording of a household with an incrementing reference number.
  2. Page. This is the full address of the page containing the data being recorded. It consists of the Class, “piece”, folio, and page number. The first row of each page has the full page address.
  3. ADDRESS. This is the address recorded for the house or other building whose census is recorded.
  4. CNAME. This contains the Christian Name for the individual being recorded. If a house is uninhabited the first Cname field includes ‘uninhabited’.
  5. SNAME. This contains the Surname of the individual.
  6. STATUS. This describes the status of the person to the head of the household. This was not provided in the 1841 census.
  7. MARR (M). This defines the marriage status of the person. Valid values are M – Married, W – widow or widower, S – single. Often censuses did not include a marriage status for children, however all children have been given a marriage status of S.
  8. SEX (S). In most censuses the sex of the person is defined by the age column recording their age. To allow simple analysis a separate Sex column has been included. Valid values are M – Male, F – Female.
  9. AGE (A). This defines the age of the person. Very young children have their age recorded in either days, weeks or months. Age may be rounded down in the 1841 census.
  10. OCCUPATION. This defines the occupation of the person. The field is sometimes used to record children who are at school as ‘scholars’ but this has not been consistently applied.
  11. EMP (E). In later censuses the person would have their working status defined but this does not appear to be applied consistently. Where it has been included it has been recorded in the transcription. Valid values are E – Employer, W – Employee, O – Own Account.
  12. H. Where EMP has been included and the status is ‘O’, Own Account then the ‘H’ column will record if they work from home. The only valid value is H – Home.
  13. WHERE BORN. This defines the location recorded for the birth of the person. In 1841 this column defines where they were born as in Hampshire or simply another county. In later censuses it defines the place and county. Sometimes the county may be wrong and the place is difficult to locate.

Each house is normally separated by marks on the Enumerator’s book by ‘//’ whereas if there are several householders they are separated by ‘/’. In the table horizontal double lines separate houses and a single horizontal line separates households in the same house. The census transcriptions are:-

Release 1.0 last update 11/12/07


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