Monday, 9 September 2013

The Census Returns for Felsham 1841 to 1911

Microsoft Excel allows you to crunch numbers very quickly and easily.  Using this software or other similar spread-sheet programs, the sorting and counting of large amounts of data from the Census Returns is fairly straightforward and provides us with some interesting facts. 

Filling up the census paper. Punch, 1861 Photograph: British Library Board/The British Library

Take Felsham villagers’ names for example.  Popular Christian names among boys show a remarkable consistency throughout the Victorian and Edwardian periods.  William, George and John are regular favourites followed closely by James, Robert and Thomas.  Frederick and Arthur become more common towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

Choice of Christian names for girls reveals greater variety than the boys particularly during Edwardian times. The girls’ names show less consistency over the whole period but definite favourites do emerge.  Mary Ann and Mary are the clear winners in the popularity stakes throughout the Victorian period but ‘Mary’ alone remains a clear favourite into the 20th century.   Sarah was very common in 1841 but fades away as the 19th century progresses.  Elizabeth is also very popular along with Eliza, but by the beginning of the 1900s, names such as Annie, Alice, Edith and Ellen are becoming more prevalent.

The top three surnames in Felsham during this period were BREWER, SMITH and TURNER.

There is much important work to be done in analysing local census material to highlight historical trends: changes in age structures, occupations, family size, and school attendance are but a few that come to mind.

If you would like a FREE Excel copy of the Felsham censuses contact the EDITOR
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