An Alternative View of the 1891 Census


When you research any topic on history, whether it be family related or more general, at some point you will undoubtedly use a census return.  Census returns for the whole country are available from 1841 through to 1901 and contain a list of all householders occupying all the address in a certain town/village the night the census was taken.  Other information contained in the census returns included occupation, age and (later) birth place, relation to the head of the family, condition (married &c) and whether blind, deaf and dumb.  They are a great source of information and, to a certain extent, are taken for granted.  But what type of work went into producing the 1891 census?

The census of 1891 was held on Monday 6th April.  The country was split into districts, around 40,000 in total, and each district had its own Enumerator.  Barton had five districts in total.  Enumerators were employed to visit the households and take their details, and each Enumerator was expected to deal with between 200 and 300 houses.  It was a difficult and complicated task finding enough Enumerators of good enough quality to complete the task quickly and accurately.  Advertisements were placed in local newspapers and this would usually result in a high number of applicants, ranging in age from 15 to 50 or more.  Even women were eligible for this task.  Applicants would be subjected to a short examination to make sure they had a good understanding of the three R’s.  Once appointed Enumerators were paid a fixed fee of one guinea and 2s. 6d for every 100 persons taken account of after the first 400, and a mileage fee of 6d. per mile after five miles.  This was not a particularly well paid job for what it entailed.  The Enumerator was given a list of streets he was to cover, and he would be expected to deliver the papers the week prior to Census Monday.  He would generally visit each house in turn and mark them down in his return as such.  The occupant of every household was required to state who slept there on the midnight of Sunday 5th April.  Some of the householders would eye the Enumerators with suspicion, and some were even hostile towards them, making the job of obtaining accurate information all the more difficult.  Many of these schedules from the houses would have been very difficult to understand, and some householders may not have been able to read or write resulting in the Enumerator having to fill the schedule in for them.  The Enumerator would not necessarily know how to spell some surnames, or even understand what the occupier was saying, which is one reason why some peoples names changed over the years.  Some householders may not remember where their birthplace was so would record their earliest recollection of where they lived instead.  They may also not know their exact age so would estimate it.  If the householder was not in when the Enumerator called, and they did not call back at a later date, the family could be missed from the census altogether.  With these sorts of problems facing the Enumerator it is easy to see how mistakes were made even at this early stage.  After the Enumerator had collected all the information he would enter the details in his book and then forward it to the registrar.  These forms collected from the households are the original “census records”.  These were destroyed after the Enumerator had entered them into his “Enumerators book”.  What we have been left with are the “census returns” which are basically the Enumerators interpretation of his form. 

The first district in Barton was numbered 14 (districts 1 to 13 and 19 onwards being other towns in the rural district of Glanford Briggs).  The boundaries for this district were to the north the Humber; to the east the east side of Fleetgate, Hall’s Ropery and the Maltkilns; to the south the south side of Westfield Road; and to the west the parish of South Ferriby.  Mr George F Wright was the Enumerator for this district.  He was 24 years old, a reporter, and lived at Ings Cottage with his mother Ann, his brother Charles and his sister Annie.  George visited 323 inhabited properties and another 25 uninhabited recording 1506 people in total at an average of 4.66 persons per inhabited property.  His route started at Poor Farm.  He then visited Barton Cliff, Moody’s Row and then Westfield Road.  He then travelled along the southern end of Fleetgate before turning onto West Acridge.  After completing West Acridge he travelled north along the west side of Fleetgate to Back Lane (the lane joining Fleetgate with Castledyke West) and then Gashouse Lane (Dam Road).  From Gashouse Lane he turned onto Waterside Road (west side) where he recorded Hewson’s Lane, Clapson’s Lane and Mill Lane before coming across Ings Lane (Far Ings Road).  After completing Ings Lane he returned to Waterside Road, first to the Coastguard station and then the brickyards along the Humber bank.  This took him back to the very western end of Westfield Road and West Acridge before returning to the many brickyards.  This would have been hard work for George.  He completed his returns on the 11th April 1891 when they were sent to Thomas Beech, who was the registrar for Barton.

The next district in Barton was numbered 15.  The boundaries for this district were to the north the Humber; to the east the east side of Marsh Lane; to the south the south side of High Street; and to the west the west side of Fleetgate and Barton Haven.  Mr John Thomas Stephenson was the Enumerator for this district.  He was 29 years old, a boot maker, and lived in the Market Place with his mother Mary and his two sisters Suzannah and Gertrude (Market Place was actually in district 18).  John visited 289 inhabited properties and another 38 uninhabited, recording 1185 people in total at an average of 4.10 persons per inhabited property.  His route started at Elm Tree House on High Street.  From Elm Tree House he continued along the northern side of High Street, including Queen Street, up to the junction with Fleetgate.  From there he continued along the eastern side of Fleetgate to Butts Road.  He then travelled along there to Newport Street (as it was recorded in the census).  He then recorded Maltby Lane and Finkle Lane before returning to Queen Street.  Next he travelled along Catherine Street and onto Marsh Lane (west side) where he soon came across a pottery maker (near where the railway line is today) and a brickyard.  He then recorded Maltkiln Road and the Ropery where his route ended.  He completed his returns on the 18th April 1891 and again sent them to Thomas Beech.

The next district in Barton was numbered 16.  The boundaries for this district were to the north the north side of High Street and the north side of Burgate; to the east the east side of Whitecross Street; to the south the south side of Holydyke; and to the west the west side of Fleetgate.  Mr John Doughty was the Enumerator for this district.  He was 57 years old, a blacksmith, and lived on Burgate (which was actually in district 17).  He lived with his wife Ann and his two sons Herbert and William.  John visited 219 inhabited properties and another 29 uninhabited, recording 951 people in total at an average of 4.34 persons per inhabited property.  His route started on Holydyke.  He travelled along Holydyke and then diverted onto Chapel Lane.  From there he recorded Hungate before returning to Chapel Lane.  This took him onto the southern side of High Street which he travelled along (recording the households on his way) before reaching Bank Street (the very eastern side of Holydyke).  He then proceeded to record the Butchery which led him onto the Market Place to record the households there.  He then travelled along Market Lane and onto Whitecross Street (western side) recording the households as he went.  This took him to Burgate which he travelled along to King Street.  He then travelled south down King Street and then onto Cottage Lane.  Next he recorded both sides of George Street which brought him back to Priestgate.  At this point, rather unusually, he returned to Hungate and completed his recording here.  Whether he couldn’t fit this part of Hungate easily in his route or he just forgot it at the time will probably remain a mystery.  The date he completed his returns is not recorded but it is likely to be around the 11th to 18th April 1891 and again he would have sent his returns to Thomas Beech.

The next district in Barton was numbered 17.  The boundaries for this district were to the north the Humber; to the east the parish of Barrow upon Humber; to the south Caistor Road; and to the west the west side of Whitecross Street, Marsh Lane and Winship brickyard.  Mr Robert Houghton was the Enumerator for this district.  He was 40 years old, a solicitors managing clerk, and lived on Queen Street (in district 15).   He lived with his parents Robert and Sarah and his sister Elizabeth.  Robert visited 205 inhabited properties and another 28 uninhabited, recording 882 people in total at an average of 4.30 persons per inhabited property.  His route started at the northern end of the eastern side of Marsh Lane.  He continued along here to Soutergate.  He travelled along Soutergate, passing through Nott Hill on his way to Pasture Road, obviously recording the households on his way.  Next he travelled along Pasture Road before making his way to Burgate.  He then travelled along the south side of Burgate which then led him onto Beck Hill.  From there he returned to Pasture Road where he came across a few brickyards to record before arriving at Beech Grove and then Barrow Road.  He continued recording along Barrow Road, past Cemetery Lodge and taking in Green Lane, before arriving at the Blue Bell on Whitecross Street.  From there he travelled north along the eastern side of Whitecross Street back to Burgate and Beck Hill.  East Acridge was the final street he recorded.  He completed his returns on the 13th April 1891 and once again would have sent them to Thomas Beech 

The final district in Barton was numbered 18.  The boundaries for this district were to the north the north side of Westfield Road, Holydyke, the Market Place and Market Lane; to the east the parish of Barrow upon Humber; to the south the parish of Barrow upon Humber and Bonby; and to the west the parish of South Ferriby, Horkstow and Bonby.  Mr John Peacock was the Enumerator for this district.  He was aged 32, an ironmonger, and lived on Chapel Lane (district 16).  He lived with his wife Henrietta.  John visited 144 inhabited properties and another 17 uninhabited, recording 677 people in total at an average of 4.70 persons per inhabited property.  His route started on Westfield Road but there were only two properties to record before he reached Holydyke.  He travelled along the southern side of Holydyke to the southern side of Market Place and Market Lane.  From there he travelled south along Whitecross Street to Baysgarth House and then Caistor Road, recording the households as he went.  Next he recorded Eastfield Road before returning to Caistor Road.  He then recorded Burnham Road and then Deepdale.  From Deepdale he made his way back onto Brigg Road passing many farms on his way.  When he finally arrived back in Barton he made his way to Ferriby Road, which he recorded, before returning to Brigg Road.  From there he covered Horkstow Road and Tofts Road before making his way back to Westfield Road.  He then recorded another short section of Ferriby Road, including Mount Pleasant and Beaumontcote.  His final stop was with a family living in a caravan on, what was then classed as, Back Lane (but not the same Back Lane recorded in district 14).  As with district 14 this would have been hard work with the large distances needed to be covered.  John completed his returns on the 13th April 1891 and, as all the other Enumerators for Barton, he would have sent them to Thomas Beech.

 

 

If we interrogate the numbers of the above districts further we can see that on the night of the census there were 5201 people recorded living in 1180 houses, with a further 137 houses uninhabited.  This equates to an average of 4.41 persons per property.  At first glance this doesn’t seem too bad, until you discover that 597 of these properties were recorded as tenements (properties) with five rooms or less (around 45% of the total properties).  This shows that there was certainly an element of overcrowding in many of the houses in Barton, especially in district 17 which had 58% of properties recorded with five rooms or less and an average of 4.30 persons per household.  District 18 fared much better with only 30% of properties having five rooms or less but it did have a larger average of 4.70 persons per household.  The percentage of properties with five rooms or less in the other districts were as follows; district 14 = 46% (with an average of 4.66 persons per household); district 15 = 45% (with an average of 4.10 persons per household); and district 16 = 42% (with an average of 4.34 persons per household). 

This wasn’t the complete census return for Barton however as there were also 12 boats recorded moored in the Barton area with a total of 25 people on them.  There was a different method of recording the people working on the boats during the census.  As the usual Enumerators could not get to the boats as easily as if they were visiting a house the master of the boat would have to fill in his own return and hand it into the nearest port when he next visited it (these returns were called Shipping Returns).  The schedules to fill in were left on board all vessels in port on the 30th March 1891, or which arrived in port up until 5th April 1891.  Any of the crew who were ashore on the night of the census would have been recorded in the usual census returns after a visit from the Enumerator.  The date recorded and the date returned would have to be as near to the 6th April as possible.  The following vessels were recorded in the Barton area around census time.  The boat Flowers or Flounders was moored at Ferriby Cliff.  It had five people on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Albert Dock in Hull on the 25th March 1891.  The boat Spencer was moored at Barton.  It had two people on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Barton on the 3rd April 1891.  The boat Woodlark was also moored at Barton.  It had three people on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Barton on the 31st March 1891.  The boat Josephine Margueritha was also moored at Barton.  It had two people on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Goole on the 28th March 1891.  The boat Hannah was also moored at Barton.  It had two people on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Barton on the 2nd April 1891.  The boat Edith or Aedith was also moored at Barton.  It had one person on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Barton, but the date of this was not recorded.  The boat Morning (or Mourning) Star was also moored at Barton.  It had one person on board and the returns for this vessel were handed in at Railway Creek in Hull on the 28th March 1891.  The boat Kate was also moored at Barton.  It had two people on board and the schedules for this vessel were handed in at Barton on the 31st March 1891.  The boat John & Mary was moored at anchor off Barton Ness.  It had two people on board and the schedules for this vessel were handed in at Hull on the 28th March 1891.  The boat Hope was anchored off Barton.  It had two people on board and the schedules for this vessel were handed in at Holy Trinity in Hull, but the date of this was not recorded.  The boat Elizabeth (possibly ‘something Elizabeth’) was moored at Barton.  It had one person on board and unfortunately it is impossible to tell where the schedules for this vessel were handed in or when.  Finally the boat Amelia Jane was also moored at Barton.  It had two people on board and the schedules for this vessel were handed in at Barton on the 5th April 1891.  On the last day of April 1891 all the Shipping Returns handed in to all British ports were sent directly to the Census Office in London.  Here they were added to the returns submitted by the Enumerators to complete the details of the census.  When you take into account the extra 25 people recorded on the twelve vessels above the total census population for Barton for 1891 equalled 5226.

Between the five Enumerators during one night they managed to record the whole population of Barton, ensuring that future generations had an invaluable resource for historical research, although I doubt at the time they actually had that in mind.  They would have had to visit all the households in Barton twice, covering large distances to do so and without the help of modern day transport.  The master mariners, or boat owners, didn’t have to travel as far as the Enumerators to complete their returns, but they did have to ensure these returns were handed in to the appropriate place in good time. So the next time you are using a census return for research spare a thought for the people who made it all possible over 100 years ago.

Darren Stockdale

Home


© copyright 2010 Dazxtm