Census Abstracts 1801 to 1841
(and the Napoleonic Censuses of 1801 & 1803)

by RW Standing, 2005

A dictionary is an opinion poll about the meaning of words. The term family today means children with at least one parent. In the recent past it meant the nuclear family, usually living in its own separate dwelling. But in the distant past the family 'familia' was a complete household, which often included relatives, lodgers, and all the living-in servants. In a similar vein it cannot be assumed a house necessarily meant a single dwelling.

Ask any family researcher and he will know that census returns prior to 1841 are of little value, with no list of names for those living in a parish. Merely the bare population total for such a place as Angmering. In 1801 - 708 inhabitants, 1811 rising to 793, 1821 jumping to 897, and 1831 just 928. But for the general historian there is rather more than that in the census statistics that have survived, and for that matter there is an interesting supplementary census with very unusual information.

The demographic census began in 1801 rather tentatively, with considerable opposition. The parish enumerators had a simple enough task, superficially, and we have to assume were generally conscientious. Not merely the total population was calculated, but the numbers of males and females, the number of families, inhabited and uninhabited houses, and for good measure the numbers employed in agriculture, trade etc, and other occupations.

To illustrate the results we can take Angmering itself, also East Preston, and also the whole of Poling Hundred, with its twelve parishes. Besides those two there was Burpham, Ferring, Goring, Kingston, Leominster, Little Hampton, North Stoke, Poling and Rustington - a fair sample of coastal plain settlements.

Angmering was calculated as having 79 inhabited and 2 uninhabited houses, 112 families, 364 males, 344 females, making a total of 708 inhabitants, with 59 in agriculture, 110 in trade, and 529 others.

East Preston 16 inhabited houses, 21 families, 80 males, 90 females, 170 total, with 28 in agriculture and another 20 in trade etc. but with no others.

For the whole of Poling Hundred the population was no more than one modern overgrown village. 501 inhabited houses, 621 families, 1670 males and 1660 females, making 3330 total population, of which 698 were in agriculture, 316 trade and 2160 others.

For the Hundred without Littlehampton. 389 houses, 499 families, 2746 people.

Hundred: average household 6.65 people. 1.24 families average family 5.36.
11 Villages: average household 7.06 1.28 families average family 5.50
Angmering: average household 8.96. 1.42 families average family 6.32

The range in family size between the parishes was 4.75 to 6.32 .

The briefest inspection of these figure raises danger flags. The enumerators understood their task very differently, so that in Angmering everyone is enumerated under various occupations, but in East Preston it is probably only the adult employed who are calculated, which makes the totals for the Hundred fairly useless. In fact most of the Angmering 'others' must have been the women and children, with most of the employed men enumerated under farming and trade, but even so the number in trade is surprisingly high if no women servants and the like are included.

At least it may be assumed the 79 houses were normal domestic buildings, whereas in East Preston, where an average family size of over eight was impossible, it is clear that one of the houses and families was an institution of around seventy residents, the union workhouse.

At least it may be assumed the 79 houses were normal domestic buildings, whereas in East Preston, where an average family size of over eight was impossible, it is clear that one of the houses and families was an institution of around seventy residents, the union workhouse.

Angmering was not a Union member as yet. Many of its houses would have contained two or more dwellings, to account for the many families, which even so averaged 6.32 persons.

Unfortunately houses occupied by the labouring poor do not appear in the parish rate lists, being exempt as plainly stated in an inquiry of 1834, making village reconstruction problematical. As in East Preston a house may often have signified a former farmstead, latterly split into labourers dwellings, occupied by extended families.

The eccentricities of the first census were no doubt realised and later returns had more useful questions. Instead of persons it was the occupations of families that were counted, or effectively the occupation of the head of the family. The problem with institutions being counted as one house and family continued, but did not affect Angmering.

With Angmering now in the poor law union, some of its inhabitants had now been lent, unwillingly, to East Preston living at the workhouse. However these were few in number, most poor relief was still outside the house to people continuing to live in their own village.

Angmering was still equivalent to two other villages in the Hundred, other than the principal town of Littlehampton with its 882 population in 159 houses. The village was credited with 104 inhabited houses, and 2 uninhabited, occupied by 159 families with 793 people.

Average family size in the Hundred was 4.81 with Angmering slightly more at 4.99 a signal reduction on 1801 perhaps reflecting better housing conditions with more nuclear families rather than extended kinships.

Occupations were now measured by the family rather than the individual, much more usefully although both would have been better. Angmering had 96 families in farming and allied occupations, compared with 48 in trade, and 15 others.

During the past decade population in the Hundred had increased by 17%, with Littlehampton way in front at 50%. Angmering at over 10% was similar to the rural norm.

For the Hundred wiithout Littlehampton. 464 houses, 619 families, 3011 people.

Hundred: average household 6.25 people. 1.30 families average family 4.81
11 villages: average household 6.49 1.33 families average family 4.86
Angmering: average household 7.62 1.53 families average family 4.99

The range in family size between the parishes was 4.20 to 4.99

In 1821 Angmering was still the chief settlement in the Hundred after Littlehampton, with 897 inhabitants, 491 male and 406 female. They occupied 131 houses, with one more unoccupied, in 177 families. Family size at 5.07, was slightly up on 1811, but so it was elsewhere even more. Occupation figures are again meaningful, with 117 families in agriculture, 50 in trade etc., and 10 others, very similar to 1811.

In the Hundred as a whole a population of 4606, in 892 families, therefore had a similar average of 5.16.

The most peculiar figures were for Littlehampton, where only 19 families were in agriculture, 50 in trade, but a massive 155 in other occupations - on comparing this with the 1831 results it may be wondered if the enumerator got his figures in the wrong place in 1821.

During the past decade population in the Hundred had increased by 18%, with Littlehampton way in front at 32%. Angmering at over 13% was again similar to the rural norm.

For the Hundred wiithout Littlehampton. 527 houses, 668 families, 3440 people.

Hundred: average household 6.29 people. 1.22 families average family 5.16
11 villages: average household 6.52 1.27 families average family 5.15
Angmering: average household 6.85 1.35 families average family 5.07

The range in family size between the parishes was 4.37 to 5.42

By 1831 the population of the Hundred had gone up to 5282, in 1048 families, reducing the average to 5.04.

Angmering was still easily the second largest settlement, its 928 inhabitants in 181 families at 5.13 average. 503 males and 425 females. There was now as many houses as families at 179, with another 4 building and 1 uninhabited. This may not have been a real boom in building, but rather a reassessment of what constituted a house, as simply a dwelling in a building. There were now 134 families in farming, 44 in trade and manufacture, with only 3 others.

On the whole most reliance may be placed on the overall populations figures for each parish, and families.

Occupation categories mixed those in farm employment with those owning farms, while 'others' no doubt included a few gentry not directly engaged in farming. Almost certainly many of those in 'trade' were outdoor servants of gentry households far removed from manufacture, whilst some were shopkeepers.

During the past decade population in the Hundred had increased by 15%, with Littlehampton in front at 39%. Angmering at over 3% had slipped below the rural norm of 6%.

For the Hundred without Littlehampton. 656 houses, 738 families, 3657people.

Hundred: average household 5.57 people. 1.11 families average family 5.04
11 villages: average household 5.57 1.12 families average family 4.96
Angmering: average household 5.18 1.01 families average family 5.13

The range in family size between the parishes was 4.61 to 5.25

If we compare the 1831 figures for Angmering with the 1841 census, the first with identifiable families. There was accounted to be 191 houses inhabited and another 6 uninhabited. A total population 1002, averaging a similar family size to that in 1831.

If this is compared to a rates list of houses in 1844, there is a vast discrepancy, with little over 60 'houses' rated. It is assumed that all the houses in the village were included, and it was the owners that are listed rather than individual dwellings. Henry Baker with his row of cottages in Church Road for instance.

It becomes apparent how difficult it is listing occupations into three simple categories. As near as the figures can be ascertained at the moment, 11 heads of family were called Farmers who employed men, and another 90 were plain agricultural labourers who were their employees, with another 5 shepherds. That is 106 in agriculture. Where 4 game keepers and woodmen would be categorised is the first question. Some 3 more were gardeners. Then entering the area of trade, 4 were given as millers. 16 in retail from publican to shoe maker. 20 in general trades from blacksmith, to bricklayer. 1 sailor. 2 teachers. 16 of independent means, including the vicar and an excise man. Finally 20 of no stated occupation, no doubt including widows and paupers, it is conceivable that many of these would have been categorised under the occupations they formerly had. But it is puzzling how these 16 gentry or independent families could suddenly appear, or were they also categorised previously under their former trades.

1801 Invasion Threat
So much, it may be thought, for the early census returns. But return to 1801, and the regular census was taken up soon afterwards and extended into something altogether more extraordinary, and repeated in 1803. In the years from 1798 to 1805 when Napoleon threatened this country with invasion, only ended by Trafalgar. [SAC 89]

In pursuance of The Defence and Security of the Realm Act, in September 1801 a "Meeting of the Deputy Lieutenants and JPs ... for the Rape ... at Half Moon Inn Petworth ..." and later meetings, made recommendations for wholesale evacuation, "beyond the reach of the enemy". [Add Mss 2736]. Superintendents of Removal included William Gratwicke Esq and Rev W Kinleside for Angmering, Ferring and Poling. Thomas Duke acted as Parish Director for Angmering. Later in 1803 Rev. Kinleside was the Inspector for several villages, with William Amoore the parish Superintendent. A large number of schedules were hastily drawn up relating not only to inhabitants for evacuation, but volunteers for numerous tasks, not least in service as infantry and cavalry, with schedules of the farm stock and vehicles belonging to the villages.

The clearance of south-eastern England had been proposed in a Bill for the Defence of the Country, passed in 1798. Napoleon had a vast armada ready for invasion, but changed his mind and headed for Egypt - not unwisely. How a mass exodus of people and farm stock could have succeeded is barely imaginable. In 1798 it had been calculated that there were not enough vehicles for farm produce let alone people.

It cannot be assumed that Angmering was using its 1801 national census figure of 708 villagers; here and elsewhere the numbers involved were shown to be far less in the later invasion returns. In both Angmering itself and a dozen local villages put together, the population was 83% of that recorded in early 1801, but with wide variations. The explanation for this is not known, and although some people may have moved out of the area in expectation of hostilities, nothing in that scale is conceivable. The recorded population for Littlehampton was two thirds of what it should have been. Angmering had 531 recorded and, allowing for boys unrecorded, that is about 83% of the national census figures.

The actual figures for Angmering were: women and girls above 7 years capable of removing - 183; incapable and women at breast - 26. Girls under 7 years old - 66. Men capable of active service (age 15 to 60) numbered 156; those incapable - 18. Men above 60 capable - 1; incapable - 13. Men above 60 incapable of removing themselves - 7. Boys under 7 years old - 61. That leaves boys 7 to 15 years of age unaccounted for. There should be added to that probably 5 men volunteered for the cavalry and 11 for the infantry. A note was also made of aliens and Quakers in the Rape, but none were recorded for Angmering or the immediate district.

Of particular relevance to the economic history of the village, was the return for mills and bread ovens, used to calculate how much could be turned out in an emergency during a day. Angmering with its two windmills could grind 10 sacks, but of more interest was the fact that the village had 1 baker's oven, and 79 private ovens in houses. It is remarkable that this was one for every house in the village, and this was the case for villages generally, whereas Littlehampton recorded very few private ovens. Most villagers had access to ovens, and were not necessarily dependent on bakers' bread. It tends to confirm the number of houses in the census, but also that many of these were divided between the 112 families. A farmstead, when reduced to labourers' cottages, would have fires for each dwelling, but would probably not provide additional ovens.

As the largest settlement locally, Angmering was able to recruit more ''volunteers' than two or three other places combined. Five were willing to serve on horseback as cavalry and 55 on foot, armed with 5 swords, 5 pistols and 55 firelocks, but pikes there were none, except in nearby Ferring. Similar large numbers were ready to serve as pioneers - 50 men bearing 37 felling axes, 8 pickaxes, 6 spades, and 1 shovel. In 1803 the number had reduced to 39, but with a wider range of tools including bill hooks and saws. It is thought the task of the pioneers would have been to damage and obstruct roads and bridges in front of the enemy.

The exodus which was planned was not only of people but, in a kind of scorched earth policy, incorporated all farm animals and vehicles as well. The drovers and drivers for these had also to recruited. If the figures can be relied on as approximately accurate, Angmering being a vast parish extending from coastal plain to high downland, the animals accounted would have choked the lanes if flooded out all together.

The village claimed to possess, 59 fat oxen, 86 cows, 86 other cattle, 9 colts, 2772 sheep, 344 lambs, 215 hogs, 48 sows, 234 pigs, 25 riding horses, 89 draft horses, 65 oxen, and of vehicles with horses or oxen to draw them: 28 wagons, 45 carts, and 5 other carriages. No doubt many of the sheep would have been in the Barpham area (in north Angmering), and readily driven away into the Weald. The sheep alone were stock enough for 2000 acres of downland at one and half an acre in a parish of 4360 acres, although many hundred would have been on the arable plain part of the parish. Cattle were not in great numbers in local parishes.

The men to tend this stock was at hand, in 41 drivers of cattle, 16 of sheep, 14 for teams of oxen etc. Whether the logistics were worked out better by 1803 may be speculated, but by then only 19 drivers of stock and 1 overseer was scheduled.

What this does leave out is to be found in another source [HO67/7] i.e. crop returns made late in 1801, by the parish priests, for those places where farmers cooperated. In general the corn harvest that year was reported to be good. As should be expected on the coastal plain, the principal crop was wheat, followed by barley, oats and a variety of other produce. By the 19th century beans were less grown, and turnips were coming into the rotations. Only the overall parish totals were returned, and for Angmering according to William Kinleside, the areas were 522 acres for wheat, 433½ for barley, 187 oats, 96½ for peas, 133 turnip or rape, potatoes 1½ acres, and beans none. Only very small areas of potatoes were found in any parish, not yet being a popular vegetable. This accounted for over 1373 acres in total, assuming farmers were using the statute acre. The areas of fallow land and grass were not mentioned.

Angmering would seem to have expanded in population from the early 18th century, more than its neighbour villages, although far less than Littlehampton. In 1724 it had 64 families, or households of extended families including relatives and servants, and by 1801 had 112 families, a 75% increase. Littlehampton increased over 400%, but the 11 villages averaged 50%, although East Preston, Stoke and Burpahm were quite stagnant. Presumably housing provision in Angmering had lagged behind need, resulting in more overcrowded dwellings than elsewhere, as indicated by family size, that is having more extended families rather than more children to a family. Later the Angmering family reduced into the average for the area. In 1801 some former large houses which were now in multiple occupancy were later treated as several houses, or dwellings.

RW Standing , 2005

Page first uploaded: 16 January 2005