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Populations Past –
Atlas of Victorian and Edwardian Population

Overview

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The second half of the nineteenth century was a period of major change in the dynamics of the British population. This was a time of transformation from a relatively 'high pressure' demographic regime characterised by medium to high birth and death rates to a 'low pressure' regime of low birth and death rates, a transformation known as the 'demographic transition'. This transition was not uniform across England and Wales: certain places and social groups appear to have led the declines while others lagged behind. Exploring these geographical patterns can provide insights into the process of change and the influence of economic and geographical factors.

This website allows users to create and view maps of different demographic measures and related socio-economic indicators every 10 years between 1851 and 1911. These include fertility, childhood mortality, marriage, migration status, household compositions, age-structure, occupational status and population density. Brief explanations of each measure are included, indicating how they are calculated and explaining how they relate to other measures. Users can zoom in to a particular area on the map, and compare side by side maps of different times or measures. When large areas are viewed at once the data are displayed in Registration Districts (RDs), but the display changes to Registration Sub-Districts (RSDs) when the users are zoomed in. The RSD level data underlying the maps can be downloaded using an ‘export’ button.

Geographic units

The main geographical units used in these maps are Registration Sub-Districts (RSDs). These were units used to report both census outputs and vital statistics (births, marriages and deaths) between 1851 and 1911. There were about 2,000 RSDs in each of the census years shown, ranging in area from fewer than 30 acres to well over 100,000 acres, and in population size from a few hundred people to 150,000 persons or more. RSDs which were predominantly urban tended to be smaller and more populous, and therefore had higher population densities than rural RSDs. However not all RSDs covered a uniformly urban or uniformly rural area: some contained both part of a town and some of the surrounding area, while others which were mainly countryside included settlements of varying sizes. While the boundaries of many RSDs encompassed the same areas from one year to the next, there was a considerable amount of re-drawing of the boundaries over time, and there is therefore a different number of RSDs at each of our observation points. There was a particularly large amount of change between the 1891 and 1901 census, when many urban RSDs were merged to form larger units.

Boundary data: Because there was considerable boundary change between each census, the maps for each census year use a unique set of boundaries. The boundaries shown in the online version of the maps have been considerably simplified to speed up the graphic display process. If you would like to use the original, more geographically precise, boundaries, please contact campop@geog.cam.ac.uk. In the explanatory text we present figures for eight groups of RSDs (see Type of Place for an explanation).

Citation for map usage: Day, J.D. Registration sub-district boundaries for England and Wales 1851-1911 (2016). This dataset was created by the 'Atlas of Victorian Fertility Decline' project (PI: A.M. Reid) with funding from the ESRC (ES/L015463/1). The Day dataset has been created using Satchell, A.E.M., Kitson, P.M.K., Newton, G.H., Shaw-Taylor, L., and Wrigley E.A., 1851 England and Wales census parishes, townships and places (2016) available at: https://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/occupations/datasets/documentation.html. The Satchell et al dataset is an enhanced version of Burton, N, Westwood J., and Carter P., GIS of the ancient parishes of England and Wales, 1500-1850. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive (May 2004), SN 4828, which is a GIS version of Kain, R.J.P., and Oliver, R.R., Historic parishes of England and Wales: An electronic map of boundaries before 1850 with a gazetteer and metadata. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive, May, 2001. SN 4348.

Data

The measures shown in the maps on this website have mainly been derived from the computerised individual level census enumerators' books (and household schedules for 1911) for England and Wales enhanced under the I-CeM project. See Schürer, K. and Higgs, E. (2014). Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM), 1851?1911. [data collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor]. SN: 7481, http://dx.doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-7481-1. I-CeM does not currently include data for 1871, although the project has been able to access a version of the data for that year it does not contain information necessary to calculate many of the variables presented here. Users should therefore beware of the missing time points on many of the graphs provided.

Additional data, for some indicators, has been derived from the civil registration of birth, deaths and marriage, which was introduced in England and Wales in 1837. We have transcribed parts of the tables summarising these events by year and areas, which were published by the Registrar General in his quarterly, annual and decennial reports of births, deaths and marriages. Summary mortality data for England and Wales were taken from the Human Mortality Database, www.mortality.org.

Place characteristics

Type of place

Definition: Each geographic unit (Registration Sub-District) has been assigned to one of eight types of place based on its occupational structure and population density. The types of place are: AGRICULTURE, SEMI-RURAL, SEMI-PROFESSIONAL, PROFESSIONAL, TEXTILE, MINING, TRANSPORT, and OTHER URBAN.

Calculation: For each RSD, all economically active men and women (excluding general labourers) aged between 15 and 64 were identified. The percentage of these who worked in each of the following occupational orders was calculated: mining, metal work/manufacture, textiles, agriculture, pottery, professions, services, and transport. These percentages were then used to allocate each place as follows:

  • If >= 25% work in textiles then the place was designated TEXTILE
  • Otherwise if >=30% worked in mining or metals then the place was designated MINING
  • Otherwise if >=7.5% worked in the professions AND >=30% worked in services then the place was designated PROFESSIONAL
  • Otherwise if >=5% worked in agriculture AND population density <1 person per acre then the place was designated AGRICULTURE
  • Otherwise if >=5% worked in agriculture then the place was designated SEMI-RURAL
  • Otherwise if >=15% worked in transport then the place was designated TRANSPORT
  • Otherwise if >=7.5% worked in the professions then the place was designated SEMI-PROFESSIONAL
  • Otherwise the place was designated OTHER URBAN

This exercise was carried out separately for each year, allowing places to change character as economic development took place. NB: for 1871 occupational structure was not available, so type of place was assigned using 1861 and 1881 for the same areas, and this may account for some discontinuities in the series.

See also: Population Density; Social Class.

Overview: In terms of area, both England and Wales were still predominantly agricultural in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However agricultural areas were sparsely populated: the bulk of the population already lived in towns and cities. In the years leading up to the dawn of the twentieth century the process of urbanisation continued, so that by 1901 over 80 per cent of the population of England and Wales lived in urban areas. Urban populations could grow by three different processes: natural increase (an excess of births over deaths) in urban areas, migration of rural-dwellers into towns and cities, or the re-classification of areas as urban. This last process, ‘extension’ or ‘urban sprawl’, was predominantly due to the expansion of the built up area into the surrounding country side. If people moved out of crowded city centres to more thinly populated suburbs then this process could be associated with a decline in the population density of inner city areas. The maps, and the graph of the number of acres covered by different types of place, show the latter process clearly, with the gradual spread of non-green colours across the maps indicating change in the character of areas. This is particularly noticeable in the area around London: PROFESSIONAL and SEMI-PROFESSIONAL areas can be seen to radiate out from the city with the passage of time.

Type of place

Although the growth of PROFESSIONAL places is particularly noticeable on the maps, it was actually the SEMI-PROFESSIONAL places which saw the largest increase in their population. There were approximately 8 million people living in AGRICULTURAL areas in 1851, but this number had declined by 1.2 million people by 1911; a fall of around 15 per cent, but because the total population of England and Wales almost doubled over the same period, the percentage of the total population living in AGRICULTURAL areas fell from 45 to 20 per cent.

Type of place

Examination of the maps shows that some of the types of area were very geographically concentrated, notably TEXTILE and MINING areas. Others, such as TRANSPORT and OTHER URBAN were spread around the country and are harder to identify on the maps.

Population density

Definition: Population density is the number of people per acre (one acre is 4047 square metres, which is a little larger than half a football field).

Calculation: Population density has been calculated using the number of people enumerated in each RSD on census night as published in the census report for each census year, and the area of the RSD derived from the GIS of RSD boundaries.

Please note: The population density categories shown on the maps are not all the same size.

See also: Type of Place.

Overview: Towns and cities are generally more densely populated than rural areas, so the maps of this measure can be used to indicate the location of urban areas in England and Wales. Within urban areas, however, there was considerable variation in population density. Zooming in on London, for example, shows that the East End was much more densely populated than the West End where the wealthier people tended to live in larger houses, with more space between them. Suburbs were generally less densely populated than the inner cities. MINING areas tended to be relatively sparsely populated as they often consisted of collections of pit villages rather than towns or cities.

Please note: People living in a Registration Sub-District (RSD) which encompassed both urban and rural areas were more likely to have lived in the urban part than the rural part, but the reported population density is calculated as an average for the whole unit.

Population density

The population of Britain was increasing very rapidly in the second half of the nineteenth century. Between 1851 and 1911 it more than doubled, rising from just under 18 million to just over 36 million. An increasing population in a fixed area means that population density also doubled, from 0.48 to 0.97 persons per acre. However the additional people were not spread evenly across England and Wales as population increase was accompanied by rapid urbanisation. However the graph below which shows population density (note this is shown on a log scale) and the graph showing the area covered by the different types of place (see Type of Place variable) indicate that although MINING and TEXTILE places were increasing in population density, it was urban areas of other, various types which saw increases in the area they covered. The growth of new urban and suburban areas seems to have been a more important part of urbanisation in the late nineteenth century than was the crowding of more people into existing towns and cities.

Population density

Fertility variables

The easiest measure of fertility to calculate is the Crude Birth Rate (CBR) which is the number of births in a year, per 1,000 people alive in the middle of that year. The CBR in England and Wales fell dramatically over the last few decades of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, decreasing from around 35 births per 1,000 people in the 1860s and 1870s when fertility was at its maximum to 15 births per 1,000 people in the early 1930s when it reached a nadir. However the CBR is a very poor measure of child-bearing experience. In the first place it is often distorted by changes in mortality and the age-structure of the population, a particularly pertinent issue in the late nineteenth century when mortality was also in rapid decline. For example if there are fewer women in the childbearing ages, then the CBR will be lower, even if each woman is having the same number of children. The Legitimate and Illegitimate Birth Rates, also provided here, to some extent solve this problem by relating the numbers of births (legitimate and illegitimate) to the numbers of women ‘at risk’ of giving birth, i.e. married and unmarried women in the fertile ages (age 15-49). Even these birth rates, however, tell us nothing about the way that family-building patterns changed as women aged. In particular they do not tell us whether fewer children were born because women delayed the start of their child-bearing career, began to have larger gaps between their children, or stopped having children at a younger age on average. These sorts of questions can only be answered using data which give the age of the mother at the time of the child's birth, and until now such data has not been available for this crucial period of Britain's demographic history.

This project use the following set of fertility measures:

  • Total Fertility Rate: the average number of children per woman, irrespective of marital status.
  • Total Marital Fertility Rate: the average number of children per married woman.
  • Legitimate Birth Rate: the number of legitimate births divided by the number of married women in the childbearing ages.
  • Illegitimate Birth Rate: the number of illegitimate births divided by the number of unmarried women in the childbearing ages (which are sometimes taken as 15-49, sometimes 20-49).
  • Illegitimacy Ratio: the percentage of all births which are illegitimate.

Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

Definition: The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is an estimate of the average number of children a woman gives birth to between her 20th birthday and her 50th birthday (written ‘20-49’ to show her ‘age in completed years’).

Calculation: There are no sources which record how many children women had over their lifetime in this historical period, so the TFR has been calculated by assuming that each woman successively experienced the birth-rates of women at each age group observed at a particular point in time. The birth rates of women in each age group are called Age-Specific Fertility Rates (ASFRs) and can be calculated from the census enumerators' books by identifying children and their mothers, working out how many children were born to women of each age in the five years leading up the census, and adjusting for various factors including child mortality and children living away from their mothers.

ASFRs and TFRs have been calculated using a database of the individual level census enumerators' books for each census year originally made available by the I-CeM project and further enhanced by the Atlas of Fertility project team.

See also: Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR); Age at Marriage; Celibacy.

Overview: The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) can be interpreted as the average number of children a woman will give birth to over her life-time. In the mid-19th century, women in England and Wales had around four and a half children each, although there was considerable geographic variation, with considerably higher fertility in the MINING areas of the North-East, and particularly low fertility in the West End of London. By 1911 the national TFR had fallen by a third, and women were having only three children each. It is important to bear in mind that many women remained unmarried and without any children at all, and this reduces the average number of children borne per woman. In fact, much of the geographical and social difference in TFR is due to different patterns of marriage (see Age of Marriage, Celibacy). Although increases in the age at marriage towards the end of the nineteenth century did contribute to falling fertility, the major driver of the fertility decline was a decline in marital fertility, shown by a related measure, the Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR).

Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR)

Definition: The Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR) is the number of children a woman would give birth to if she married at age 20 and remained married (without her husband dying) until her 50th birthday (written ‘20-49’ to show her ‘age in completed years’).

Calculation: There are no sources for England and Wales which record how many children women had over their lifetime in this historical period, so the TMFR has been calculated by assuming that each woman successively experienced the observed birth-rates of women at each age group, from age 20 (or 25) until her 50th birthday. The birth rates of women in each age group are called Age-Specific Marital Fertility Rates (ASMFRs) and can be calculated from the census enumerators' books by identifying children and their mothers, working out how many children were born to women of each age in the five years leading up the census, having adjusted for various factors including childhood mortality.

ASMFRs and TMFRs have been calculated using a database of the individual level census enumerators' books for each census year originally made available by the I-CeM project and further enhanced by the Atlas of Fertility project team.

See also: Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR); Legitimate Birth Rate; Age at Marriage; Celibacy.

Overview: The Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR) can be interpreted as the average number of children a women would have during her marriage, if she married at age 20 and stayed married until her 50th birthday. It is important to bear in mind that it was unusual for women to marry as at such a young age in England and Wales in the nineteenth century, therefore the TMFR should not be interpreted as the experience of a typical married woman. Because the majority of women were over 25 when they married, a more typical experience can be expressed by calculating the number of children a woman would have had if she married at age 25, and this measure, TMFR(25-49), is given in the graph below, alongside the usual measure, TMFR(20-49). This shows that women who married at age 20 had just over two more children, on average, than did women who married at age 25 (NB The maps show TMFR(20-49)). As can be seen by the trends in the Age at Marriage, marriage age increased in the last couple of decades of the nineteenth century, and this contributed to the decline in overall fertility as measured by the Total Fertility Rate (TFR). However the major driver of the fertility decline was a decline in marital fertility, which decreased by over one child per woman between 1881 and 1911. The fertility transition can therefore be characterised as a change from fertility control by marriage to fertility control within marriage.

Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR)

Although much of the geographical and social differences in fertility were due to differences in the age of marriage and the propensity to never marry, there were also differences, before fertility started to decline, in fertility rates among those who were married, with high marital fertility in both MINING and AGRICULTURAL areas. Because changes in marital fertility happened earlier in some types of place - notably TEXTILE areas, but also PROFESSIONAL places - and were delayed in others (MINING, TRANSPORT and OTHER URBAN areas) the geographical differences in marital fertility increased.

Total Marital Fertility Rate (TMFR)

Legitimate Birth Rate

Definition: The Legitimate Birth Rate gives the number of legitimate births in a year per 1,000 married women aged 15-49.

Calculation: The Legitimate Birth Rate has been calculated using the numbers of legitimate births for each RSD published in the Registrar General's Annual Reports. In most cases the number of births has been averaged over three years: the year before the census, the census year and the year after the census year, in order to minimise the effect of small numbers. However 1910 was the last year for which data on the number of births by legitimacy was published for RSDs, so for our 1911 figures only births for 1910 were used. In some cases where boundary changes occurred in the three years around a census, the average was calculated using only births from the year where the birth and census data referred to the same RSD. The number of married women in each RSD was calculated using the individual level census data, inflating the figure by the ratio of the female population in the I-CeM database to the female population for the same RSD published in the census reports. This was done to minimise the impact of data missing from the I-CeM dataset.

See also: Illegitimate Birth Rate; Total Marital Fertility Rate; Total Fertility Rate.

Overview: At the national level fertility in England and Wales did not start to fall until the late 1870s or the early 1880s. From then until the 1930s, the number of children born per 1,000 married women fell steadily. There were, however differences in birth rates between different types of place even before the fertility decline, with the highest levels in MINING areas and the lowest levels in PROFESSIONAL places. It is noticeable that the legitimate birth rate in TEXTILE areas was already falling between 1851 and 1861 - around 30 years earlier than in other types of place.

Legitimate Birth Rate

Legitimate Birth Rate

Illegitimate Birth Rate

Definition: The Illegitimate Birth Rate gives the number of illegitimate births in a year per 1,000 single, divorced and widowed women aged 15-49.

Calculation: The Illegitimate Birth Rate is calculated using the numbers of illegitimate births for each RSD published in the Registrar General's Annual Reports. In most cases the number of births is averaged over three years: the year before the census, the census year and the year after the census year. However 1910 was the last year for which data on the number of births by legitimacy was published for RSDs, so for our 1911 figures only births for 1910 were used. In some cases where boundary changes occurred in the three years around a census, the average was calculated using only births from the year where the birth and census data referred to the same RSD. The number of single, divorced and widowed women in each RSD were calculated using the individual level census data, inflating the figure by the ratio of the female population in the I-CeM database to the female population for the same RSD published in the census reports. This was done to minimise the impact of data missing from the ICeM dataset.

See also: Illegitimacy ratio; Legitimate birth rate

Overview: Illegitimacy was not uncommon in historic England and Wales: in 1851 there were nearly 20 illegitimate births for every 1,000 unmarried women. However the risks of a woman having a child out of marriage fell by over half in the Victorian era, to less than 8 illegitimate births per 1,000 unmarried women in 1911. In the British past, illegitimate fertility often varied with legitimate fertility - in other words when people married young and had many children within marriage, they were also more likely to have had children before they got married. This relationship is also evident in the nineteenth century geographic patterns of legitimate and illegitimate fertility: MINING areas had high legitimate and illegitimate birth rates, whereas PROFESSIONAL areas had low rates of both, and TEXTILE areas witnessed earlier declines in both type of fertility although illegitimate birth rates fell noticeably faster than legitimate in the early years.

Illegitimate Birth Rate

Illegitimate Birth Rate

Illegitimacy Ratio

Definition: The Illegitimacy Ratio gives the number of illegitimate births as a percentage of all births.

Calculation: The Illegitimacy Ratio has been calculated using the numbers of legitimate and illegitimate births for each RSD published in the Registrar General's Annual Reports. An average of three years of births has been used to minimise the effect of small numbers: the year before the census year, the census year and the year after the census year (although the data stopped being published in this form after 1910, so for 1911 only 1910 is used).

See also: Illegitimate birth rate; Legitimate birth rate.

Overview: Illegitimacy was not uncommon in historic England and Wales, but it underwent a sustained decline over the Victorian era, falling from around 7 per cent of all births in 1851 to around 4 per cent in 1901. As with many demographic characteristics, there were significant geographical variations in illegitimacy. In general AGRICULTURAL areas had higher percentages of illegitimate births, but inspection of the maps shows that this was particularly concentrated in mid-Wales and Shropshire, Norfolk, the East Riding of Yorkshire, and the North, a phenomenon which has been linked to particular agricultural systems and cultural norms. Illegitimacy ratios were notably low in TRANSPORT areas, and all areas except TRANSPORT witnessed declines in this measure of illegitimacy, with particularly rapid and early declines in TEXTILE areas. Particularly high illegitimacy ratios in isolated urban areas may be connected to maternity hospitals and other institutions which catered for unmarried mothers.

Illegitimacy Ratio

Illegitimacy Ratio

The relationship between the Illegitimacy ratio and the Illegitimate birth rate: The Illegitimacy ratio measures illegitimate births as a percentage of all births, and the Illegitimate birth rate measures illegitimate births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The ratio can therefore be distorted by the changes in the number of legitimate births. This can be seen by looking at the illegitimacy ratios for 1901 and 1911. The number of illegitimate births was actually continuing to decline, but by this stage the number of legitimate births was declining at a similar or faster rate, so the percentage of births which were illegitimate rose. Different levels of legitimate fertility also affected the relationship between places: the illegitimacy ratios in MINING areas seem moderate, but this is because both illegitimate and legitimate birth rates were high. In contrast the illegitimacy ratios in PROFESSIONAL areas seem relatively high - particularly towards the end of the period, but the legitimate birth rate in this type of place was low. So although the percentage of all births which was illegitimate was higher than in other places by 1911, the proportion of women in PROFESSIONAL areas who were single was much higher than in other places, so the risk of any single women having an illegitimate birth was actually lower than in any other type of place. Despite its deficiencies, the Illegitimacy Ratio uses less data than the Illegitimate Birth Rate and is therefore a more widely calculated measure.

Marriage

Age at Marriage

Definition: This measure, technically called the Singulate Mean Age at Marriage (SMAM) is an indicator of the average age at which men or women married.

Calculation: The census did not record the age at which people married, so this is not a simple average of the actual ages of marriage. Instead we have used a slightly different calculation which can be derived from census data, called the Singulate Mean Age at Marriage (SMAM). It is the average number of person-years lived in a single (never-married) state among those who marry before age 50. It is calculated from the proportions of men or women single at each age. Although it is not a direct measure of the age at which the men or women in the population actually got married, it will be close to that if marriage patterns were not subject to rapid change, and in the absence of migratory movements which may swell or deplete the ranks of unmarried people with individuals who were unlikely to contribute to the marriage market.

Because this indicator uses marital status as reported by individuals on the census forms, it may not reflect whether people had gone through a legal or religious ceremony or not. Some couples may have reported themselves as married even if they were not officially wedded, but this was probably rare. Unmarried women with children may have claimed to have been married or widowed in order to maintain respectability.

See also: Celibacy.

Overview: The age at marriage has been relatively late (in the mid to late 20s) for men and women in England and Wales since medieval times. In 1851 English and Welsh men got married at age 26.5 on average, with women marrying about a year younger. After a slight fall between 1851 and 1861, the age at marriage for both men and women increased, although on slightly different trajectories, so that by 1911 men were marrying at age 27.5 on average and women at just over age 26.

Age at Marriage

There were considerable differences in age at marriage in places dominated by different economic structures. This was particularly the case among women, although increases in marriage age were witnessed everywhere. Marriage age for women was lowest in MINING areas and for men there were pockets of particularly high age at marriage in the upland areas of Wales and the North of England.

Comparing the male and female marriage ages for different types of place suggests that between 1861 and 1901 women in PROFESSIONAL areas married at even older ages than men in the same areas. However this is predominantly an artefact of the way the ages at marriage have been calculated here: the influx of single young women into PROFESSIONAL areas to work as domestic servants increased the number of person years lived as a single person, increasing the age at marriage indicator. The majority of these young women did not stay in these areas and moved elsewhere when they married. There was no corresponding influx of young single men to increase the male SMAM in these areas.

The late age at marriage in England and Wales was one reason for moderate fertility before the demographic transition: the later marriage occurred the smaller was the proportion of the reproductive years which could be spent having children.

Age at Marriage

Age at Marriage

Celibacy

Definition: The number of men or women aged 45-54 who were single (never married), expressed as a percentage of all men or women aged 45-54. Because few people married for the first time after the age of 50, this is taken to represent the percentage of the population who never marry.

Calculation: The measure has used the marital status and age information in the individual level census returns, and has been calculated separately for men and women.

See also: Age at marriage; Sex ratio

Overview: Between 1851 and 1891 around 10 per cent of men and 12 per cent of women remained unmarried at the end of their reproductive lives. Over the next two decades these figures started to increase, reaching 12 and 16 per cent respectively. At any one time there should be equal numbers of men and women married, but this does not mean that there will necessarily be equal percentages of men and women un-married. The main reason for higher percentages of unmarried women in Victorian England was their lower risk of death. By the age of 45 there were more women in the population than men. In smaller areas, such as type of place, differential migration between men and women played the major role in driving differential celibacy.

Although there were differences in the proportions of men remaining unmarried by type of place, with higher rates in Wales and the North of England, these were small compared to the differences in the proportions among women. It was most uncommon for women to remain unmarried in MINING areas throughout the period, while in PROFESSIONAL areas between 20 and 30 per cent of women aged 45-54 never married. These differences were at least partly connected to labour market opportunities and migration among single women. There were few opportunities for single women to work in MINING areas, and therefore little incentive for unmarried women to move to or stay in such areas. In contrast jobs open to single women were more plentiful in PROFESSIONAL areas, leading to high levels of female in-migration and an excess of women in such places.

Celibacy

Celibacy

Celibacy

Mortality and health

Infant mortality rate (IMR)

Definition: The infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of children who died before their first birthday out of each 1,000 children born.

Calculation: The graph of the national IMR shows annual rates, but for smaller geographic units we show IMRs calculated for the five years leading up to each census to minimise the fluctuations due to small numbers in some areas. To calculate the IMR for our small geographic units, we divided all deaths to infants (i.e. children under a year old) in the five years leading up to each census (e.g. April 1876 to March 1881 for the five years leading up to the 1881 census), by the number of children born in the same period, and multiplied by 1,000. Some of the deaths to infants dying in the early part of the period (e.g. in April 1876) will have been to infants born before the start of the period (e.g. in February 1876), but this is compensated for by the deaths of children born towards the end of the period e.g. in March 1881) who died after the census (e.g. in May 1881). This is the usual method for calculating the infant mortality rate. The data on infant births and deaths for each RSD were transcribed from the Registrar General's Quarterly Returns of Births, Deaths and Marriages. These data were not produced before the 1869, so we have had to assume that infant mortality did not change between 1851 and 1869. The annual national figures were obtained from the Human Mortality Database, http://www.mortality.org/.

See also: Early Childhood Mortality Rate (ECMR); Population Density.

Overview: The IMR was around 150 per thousand for England and Wales as a whole across the second half of the nineteenth century. Rates were slightly lower in the 1880s, but suffered a resurgence in the 1890s when a series of long, hot summers caused spikes in infant diarrhoeal deaths, particularly in urban areas. Therefore, unlike mortality at older ages of childhood and in adulthood which began to decline from about 1870, there was no sustained decline in the national infant mortality rate until the turn of the century. 1911 also saw a particularly hot summer which increased the IMR, and this shows up in the national rates (which are for complete calendar years) but not in our local rates where we have only calculated mortality up to the date of the census which was taken on the 2nd of April, 1911.

Infant mortality rate (IMR)

There was considerable geographic variation in rates of infant mortality across England and Wales, with rates below 100 per 1000 in many AGRICULTURAL areas and over 200 per thousand in some urban industrial places over the last half of the nineteenth century. Higher urban infant mortality has been attributed to crowded populations living in insanitary conditions, favouring the spread of infectious diseases. TRANSPORT places had the highest infant mortality at the beginning of the period, with other industrial areas, including TEXTILE places, also having high rates of infant death (see also Population Density). Mortality was lowest in AGRICULTURAL areas, where a benign disease environment and the chance of spreading infection was low. PROFESSIONAL areas had the second lowest mortality rates: in these areas accommodation was well spaced out, facilities were good and housing was often located away from industrial and natural hazards.

The infant mortality rates by type of place show that the resurgence of infant mortality rates in the 1890s was concentrated in TRANSPORT, MINING and OTHER URBAN places, and that the decline from the turn of the century was less pronounced in MINING and OTHER URBAN areas. The decline was also very small in AGRICULTURAL areas where mortality was already low.

Infant mortality rate (IMR)

Early Childhood Mortality Rate (ECMR)

Definition: The early childhood mortality rate (ECMR) is the number of children who die between their first and fifth birthdays, out of every 1,000 children in that age group (age 1 to 4 years inclusive).

Calculation: The graph of the national ECMR shows annual rates, calculated by dividing the number of deaths given in the Registrar General’s reports by the estimated population (derived from censuses). However the numbers of deaths to children aged one to four years are not provided for Registration Sub-Districts in any of the Registrar General’s reports, so we have estimated the ECMRs for the five years leading up to each census using a statistical model which relates ECMR to infant mortality, industrial structure, and other variables capturing the disease environment and socio-economic conditions (see DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2017.37.58 for details of this process).

See also: Infant Mortality Rate.

Overview: Unlike the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), the Early Childhood Mortality Rate (ECMR) - along with mortality in older childhood and adulthood - declined more or less constantly from the 1870s onwards. This decline was mainly due to decreasing death rates from a variety of childhood infectious diseases, including scarlet fever, whooping cough and diarrhoea.

Early Childhood Mortality Rate (ECMR)

As with infant mortality rates, there were large differences in early childhood mortality rates by type of place, with the lowest risks of death in AGRICULTURAL areas, followed by PROFESSIONAL places, and considerably higher risks in the urban industrial heartlands. MINING and TEXTILE areas, although they did not have the highest early childhood mortality, show up strongly in the maps as having high rates because they are geographically concentrated. In general the differences between places reduced as mortality fell, but MINING areas failed to benefit as much as other types of places did from the improvements in child health over this period.

Early Childhood Mortality Rate (ECMR)

Doctors

Definition: The number of doctors per 10,000 people.

Calculation: This measure has been based on the occupations individual people recorded on the census forms. Doctors include all those reporting themselves to be a doctor, physician, surgeon, registered practitioner, etc. The number of doctors in each area has been divided by the population in that area and multiplied by 10,000 to get a rate per 10,000 people.

See also: Infant Mortality Rate; Early Childhood Mortality Rate.

Overview: The number of doctors per 10,000 people can be interpreted as an indicator of health service provision. It does not include other health professionals such as nurses, midwives, health visitors and so on, but it is not straightforward to identify these in the census. It is important to remember that during this period there was no free health care. Doctors were all private practitioners, although some may have been paid by the Poor Law to provide care for paupers, and others may have charged lower fees for needy cases. It is also the case that before the development of powerful drugs such as antibiotics, medical care was much less effective than it is today. Before the widespread acceptance of germ theory and the antiseptic revolution, a doctor’s visit may even have increased the chance of illness through the transfer of infection from another patient.

Overall, the number of doctors per 10,000 people increased between the early part of the period (1851 and 1861) and the later part. The slight dip in 1861 may be a result of the 1858 Medical Act which required all medical practitioners to register with the newly established General Medical Council: this may have led to a reduction in the number of unqualified persons reporting themselves as doctors.

Doctors

Given that the majority of doctors relied on private practice, it is unsurprising that PROFESSIONAL areas were considerably better served with doctors than other types of place throughout the period: doctors were more likely to have set up their practices among clientele who could afford their services. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Wales seemed particularly poorly served by doctors, although the situation had improved by the early twentieth century. Industrial areas, particularly TEXTILE, MINING and OTHER URBAN places had fewer doctors per 10,000 people than other types of place throughout the period.

Focussing in on London, there was considerable inequality in the numbers of doctors per 10,000 people, with better medical provision in West London and suburban areas. It is important to remember that this indicator reflects where doctors were living, rather than where they practised. In many cases these will have been the same: it was common during the nineteenth century for a GP to have his (or her, but female doctors were extremely rare) surgery at his own home. However hospital and poor law doctors may well have travelled from a salubrious suburb to provide care for an inner city area, thus these spatial differentials in London and other cities may be exaggerated by commuting practices.

Doctors

Households

Lone parent households

Definition: The number of households containing a lone-parent family (at least one child under the age of 15 with only one parent present), expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: Lone parent families are defined as one parent (married, widowed or single) living with at least one unmarried child aged under 15. Because the census recorded each person where they happened to be on census night, rather than where they usually lived, it is impossible to tell if an absent husband or wife of a married parent was permanently or temporarily absent from the household. In the Victorian censuses, a household was not necessarily just a family: it may have included others living in the dwelling, such as boarders, servants, or more distant relatives. The census forms asked each individual to identify their relationship to the head of the household, and it is this variable which is used to identify family relationships. It is relatively easy to identify the spouse and children of the head of household, but more difficult to identify family groups which do not include the head. For example if a ‘grandchild’ was present in a household, it may not be obvious to which, if any, of the head’s children that grandchild belonged. Thus this variable may undercount lone-parent families if a link between a parent and a child cannot be made, but overcount them when a parent-child link can be made but the link between parents is missed. The particularly low percentages of lone parent families in Oxfordshire and Berkshire in 1851 are likely to be connected to transcription issues making it difficult to make parent-child links. Other people (relatives or non-relatives) may also be present in a household with a lone-parent family.

See also: Illegitimate birth rate; Illegitimacy ratio

Overview: The percentage of households containing a lone-parent family declined steadily from some time in the period between 1860 and 1880. This is almost certainly due to the decrease in adult mortality which started in the 1870s. Most instances of family dissolution in the nineteenth century were caused by the death of either the husband or the wife - divorce was difficult, expensive and out of reach of the majority of the population. As today, the majority of lone-parent families were headed by a mother rather than a father. Partly this was because men tended to die before women: not only was male mortality higher at each age, but husbands were on average a little older than their wives. However it is also the case that widowed men were more likely to get re-married than widowed women, or for their children to be sent to live with another family member (the census data do not allow us to routinely distinguish couples who have re-married from couples on their first marriage). Some lone-parent families may have been composed of unmarried mothers and children, but while illegitimacy was not uncommon in this era it is difficult to identify illegitimate children in the census, even those living with their mother, so lone-parent families of this type are likely to be undercounted in these data. It is possible that some unmarried mothers reported themselves as married in order to preserve their respectability. It is noticeable that the patterns of lone-parent families in different types of place do not correspond with illegitimate birth rates, suggesting that unmarried mothers with their children do not form a major component of lone-parent families.

Single parent families

Declines in households containing lone-parent families in every type of place reflect the widespread nature of the declines in adult mortality. However the somewhat higher levels of such households in TRANSPORT areas probably reflect the differing likelihood of fathers to have been temporarily working elsewhere. The temporary absence of sailors, drivers, carters etc. can explain the particularly high prevalence of lone-parent households in the fishing communities in the North West, the South West, and Wales. AGRICULTURAL areas had low levels of lone-parent households, and the fact that the census was deliberately held in the spring when seasonal agricultural labour migration was low might help explain this. However adult mortality was also lower in healthy rural areas than in towns and this will also have contributed to the lower prevalence of lone-parent households.

Single parent families

Single person households

Definition: Households containing only one person, expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: The number of households containing only one person is divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100. It might seem easy to define a household, but for the nineteenth century it is actually quite problematic. This is because families often rented out part of their homes under a variety of arrangements: from boarders who paid rent, ate with the family and may even have shared a bedroom with them, to lodgers who rented a separate floor or apartment. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the census instructions were not always clear about how to treat boarders and lodgers, let alone the grey areas in between (such as someone renting a room and using the kitchen). Lodgers were supposed to be recorded in households of their own. In some years census instructions to householders and enumerators made this more likely to have happened, and consequently the percentage of households containing only one person was higher, and the percentage containing boarders or more distant relatives (who may have also paid rent) was lower.

See also: Households with boarders; Households with kin; Elderly per working age adults

Overview: The fluctuations in the percentage of single-person households before 1891 can probably be attributed to the ambiguities in the definition of household (see Calculation). Therefore the percentage of households containing only one person was probably rather stable over time in this time period, at about 6 per cent (in contrast, 17 per cent of households contained only one person in 1971 and in 2016 this figure had risen to 28%). As today, single person households were mainly made up of two demographic groups: the elderly (particularly widows and widowers) and young adults who had not yet entered a relationship. The latter were also likely to be boarders or lodgers and it is probable that the fluctuations in single-person households were mainly due to treatment of the household position of younger adults.

Although the overall trend was probably actually rather flat, the proportion of households containing only one person varied considerably geographically and by type of place. Single person households were particularly rare in industrial areas; especially those dominated by mining, metal work, and textiles. In contrast, people in AGRICULTURAL and PROFESSIONAL places were more likely to have lived alone. There are several factors which may have contributed to these geographic differences: the growth of industry means that there was considerable migration from agricultural areas to take up industrial jobs. This kept the proportion of elderly people (and thus potential single-person households) in industrial populations low. The other side of this coin is the movement of young adults away from the countryside, where the elderly therefore formed a larger share of the population. The high proportions of single-person households in PROFESSIONAL areas were, however, largely due to the many, probably unmarried, young men who lived in single-person lodger households. In 1881 there is a large dip in the proportion of single-person households, but a corresponding increase in the proportion of households containing boarders: in that year, it appears, lodgers were likely more likely to have been classed as boarders in the census.

Single person households

Single person households

Households with boarders

Definition: Households containing at least one boarder, expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: Boarders were defined as people renting a room or bed in someone else's house, and taking meals with the householder's family. They can be identified by 'boarder' being written in the 'relationship to household head' column on the census form. A household has been classed as containing boarders if at least one person was identified as a boarder, and the number of households with boarders has been divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100. There was some fluctuation in the percentage of households with boarders because of confusion between boarders and lodgers. Boarders shared space and food with the family while lodgers rented a separate space and were supposed to be recorded as separate households. However the census instructions regarding this were not always clear, particularly before 1891, and it may not always have been obvious if a person was a boarder or a lodger. There was also potential confusion between boarders and relatives, as some relatives may have paid rent and qualified as both, but only one relationship could be recorded.

See also: Households with kin; Single-person households

Overview: Around 11 per cent of households in England and Wales contained boarders in each census year from 1851 to 1911, with the exception of 1881 when a higher percentage probably reflects a higher likelihood of sub-letters being classified as lodgers rather than boarders. Although there was little change over time in this period, there was considerable geographical variation. The maps show that in AGRICULTURAL areas around 9 per cent of households had boarders, while in MINING areas the figure was closer to 15 per cent, with boarding being most common in the South Wales coal field, where in many districts over 18 per cent of households contained at least one boarder. Mining was a strongly growing industrial sector at this time, with an influx of young men migrating to work there, so it is possible that high proportions of boarders reflected the failure of the housing stock in South Wales to keep up with demand. In contrast, AGRICULTURAL areas were characterised by out-migration, so pressure on housing was likely to have been lower, but again there was regional variation: the predominantly agricultural areas of South East England in Sussex and Kent show relatively high proportions of households with boarders.

Two types of place show marked change in the proportions of boarders over time, although it is important not to read too much into changes, given the definition issues mentioned in the Calculation section. In PROFESSIONAL areas the prevalence of boarders increased over time (ignoring the blip in 1881 which is probably because more people were classed as lodgers rather than boarders in that year), while in TEXTILE areas the percentages of households with boarders decreased. These changes may be connected to the relative buoyancy of the economy in these places: by the end of the 19th century the growth of the textile industry had slowed, and jobs could be filled by local workers who were more likely to already have a place to live. PROFESSIONAL areas were growing strongly, however, and migrants coming to work in the blue collar and service sectors may have opted to board as this provided affordable accommodation.

Households with boarders

Households with boarders

Households with kin

Definition: Households containing people related to the head other than his/her immediate family, expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: The head's immediate family has been defined as either his wife (or her husband) and his or her unmarried children; or, if he or she is unmarried, his or her parents (and siblings too, but only if at least one parent is present). Any other people whose relationship to head suggests a family relationship (eg mother or mother-in-law of a married head, grand-child, niece or nephew) have been treated as relatives or kin. Any household with at least one person defined this way has been treated as a household with kin. The number of households with kin has been divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100.

See also: Households with boarders; Single-person households; Lone-parent households.

Overview: Living with family more distant than the immediate family group was rare in the British past. In most of the census years fewer than 2 per cent of households contained kin (including situations where parents and married children lived together, and grandchildren lived with grandparents). In contrast around 11 per cent of households contained boarders and until 1911, over 10 per cent contained live-in servants. Fluctuations in the early census years are likely to have been due to legibility of sources and coding issues, but there appears to have been a slight and consistent increase in the percentage of households with kin towards the end of the 19th and into the 20th century. This increase was similar in every type of place, although levels varied, which suggests that it may be a function of a general demographic trend such as a mortality decline. Although elderly people did not routinely live with their married children (as discussed in the section on single-person households many ended up living alone), these types of relationship were still the most common among households with kin, and a decline in late adult mortality may have increased the length of time this type of household would have survived for before the parent died, and thus increased the chance of capturing them in the census snap-shot. Alternatively an increase in celibacy could have led to more adult siblings living with their married brother or sister (‘the rise of the ‘live-in’ maiden aunt’). Finally housing shortages may have made staying with kin a more sought-after option rather than boarding or lodging.

Industrial areas had slightly higher percentages of households with kin than other types of place, although this was not visible in MINING areas at the beginning of the period. It is possible that this was due to chain migration: migrants may have generated further migration among their relatives and these new migrants may have stayed, at least initially, with their relatives when they arrived. However there may also have been cultural differences in the living arrangements of the elderly.

Households with kin

Households with kin

Households with live-in servants

Definition: Households which had at least one live-in servant (excluding those specifically designated as farm servants), expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: This indicator has been calculated by classing each household where there was at least one person whose relationship to the head of household was given as 'servant' as a servant-keeping household. The number of servant-keeping households was then divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100.

See also: Social class; RG's class; Domestic servants (women); Single women working.

Overview: During the pre-industrial and industrialising periods of British history, it was very common for young people to spend a period of time as a live-in servant in another family's household. This usually occurred between the late teens and mid-twenties, and was particularly common among women, allowing them to save up money which would allow them to contribute towards the setting up of an independent household when they married. This institution of domestic service was in decline, however from at least the mid-nineteenth century. In England and Wales as a whole the percentage of households which had at least one live-in servant declined from about 16 per cent in 1851 to about 9 per cent in 1911.

Households with live-in servants

Only the better-off sections of society, of course, could afford to keep a permanent live-in servant purely to look after the household, although many farming households also employed domestic servants whose duties probably combined household and agricultural work. Therefore the maps show servant-keeping to be high in the hill-farming regions of Wales and the North of England. Comparatively high levels of live-in servant keeping can be seen in the suburbanising ring around London, but these PROFESSIONAL places, although they had far higher levels of servant-keeping in each year, also witnessed the fastest decline in the practice.

It should be remembered that this variables only measures live-in domestic service: some servants may have lived elsewhere and came in to work each day, or when needed.

Households with live-in servants

Age structure

Dependency ratios

Definition: The number of dependents (children aged less than 14; elderly aged 65 and over; or both) per 100 working-age people (aged 14-64).

Calculation: Everyone was asked to record their age in the census, and we have counted the numbers of people in different age groups: children (those less than 14 years), working-age (those 14-64 years), and elderly (age 65 and over). The dependency ratio has been calculated by dividing the number of children and elderly (combined) by the number of working-age people and multiplying by 100. The child dependency ratio divides just the number of children by the number of working-age people, multiplying by 100; and the old age dependency ratio divides the number of elderly by the number of working-age people, multiplying by 100. We have identified dependent children as those under the age of 14, because many children older than this were earning money (see Children's work and schooling). Of course some children younger were also earning money - particularly at the beginning of the period - and many older children were not. Similarly many people carried on working past the age of 65, particularly before old age pensions were introduced in 1908 (even then, these were only available to those over the age of 70, and did not cover everyone). Men would have stopped working at various ages, depending on their health and resources, and married women of all ages were unlikely to have earned money outside the house although they would have been working hard running the household - important labour which, although unpaid, contributed enormously to the household economy. These factors mean that these dependency measures do not measure strict economic dependency, although they can be interpreted as measuring the potential dependency burden.

See also: Children's work and schooling; Women's work; Fertility

Overview: Between 1851 and 1881 there were around 62 dependents (children and old age) for every 100 working-age people (aged 14-64), but this began to decline after 1881 and had fallen to 52 by 1911. Examination of the child and old age dependency ratios separately shows that this decline is almost entirely due to a decline in the number of children per worker, which can be attributed to fertility decline. Towards the end of the period the old age dependency ratio began to creep up as mortality decline spread to those over 65, but this effect was still tiny in comparison to that of declining fertility. Throughout the period there were far more child dependents than elderly, reflecting a pyramidal age structure created by relatively high fertility and mortality.

Dependency ratios

Because child dependency dominated overall dependency ratios, and child dependency was mainly affected by fertility, spatial and temporal patterns in overall and child dependency were very similar to spatial and temporal patterns in fertility. Thus dependency ratios were particularly high in MINING areas and low in PROFESSIONAL places. Different spatial patterns in the proportion of elderly people also had an effect, and higher proportions of elderly increased the dependency ratio in AGRICULTURAL areas. It must be remembered that these ratios were not simply the product of fertility (affecting numbers of children) and mortality (primarily affecting the elderly) but also of the numbers of working-age people. Locally and regionally, numbers of people in this age group could vary substantially due to in- or out-migration. High levels of out-migration of young adults meant that the working-age group was small in comparison to the elderly in AGRICULTURAL areas. Substantial numbers of temporary in-migrants, such as servants, many of whom would not have settled in the area, will have contributed to lower dependency ratios: this phenomenon can be seen in the West End of London. In other places dependency ratios may have been a function of the history of migration over the previous 50-100 years: this can be seen in many industrial areas (especially MINING and TEXTILE places) where low numbers of the elderly relative to working-age people may have been because not all the migrants who settled in these areas had yet had time to grow old. In MINING areas the low old age dependency ratio is more than counteracted by high child dependency, but in TEXTILE areas these forces were in tandem by the end of the nineteenth century.

Dependency ratios

Dependency ratios

Migration

Irish born

Definition: The number of people reported as having been born in Ireland, expressed as a percentage of the whole population.

Calculation: The percentage Irish born has been calculated using the information on birth place reported in the individual level census returns.

See also:

Overview: The most concentrated influx of Irish immigrants to England and Wales was the result of the Irish potato famine of 1845-49. By 1861 nearly 3 per cent of those residing in England and Wales reported having been born in Ireland. The natural ageing of the famine migrants - their numbers dwindling as they reached old age and died - and the fact that any of their children born after they had migrated would have been reported as born in England and Wales accounts for the gradual decline in the Irish-born population. Although Irish migration certainly did not stop after the famine cohorts, this was insufficient to maintain a continued high proportion of Irish born in the population.

Irish born

Irish migrants tended to take on unskilled manual jobs; many working as labourers in the docks or as navvies constructing railways. TRANSPORT areas, and particularly docks, therefore always had considerably higher percentages of Irish-born people than other areas, particularly in the years immediately after the potato famine. In London, the East End dock districts were home to many Irish people: in 1851 over a quarter of the population of the Registration Sub-District of Aldgate had been born in Ireland. However the Liverpool docks were even more heavily Irish, probably because many Irish people sailed from Ireland into Liverpool. In 1851 nearly half (47 per cent) of people living in the Registration Sub-District of Howard Street in Liverpool had been born in Ireland. Others Irish migrants found work in the army, and this can explain high percentages of Irish born in the Aldershot (Hampshire) area, which was the main base of the British Army.

Irish born

Sex ratio in the working ages

Definition: The number of working-age men (14-64 years) for every 100 working-age women (age 14-64 years).

Calculation: The numbers of men and women aged from 14 to 46 years have been calculated using the information on age and sex given in the census for each person. The number of men has been divided by the number of women and multiplied by 100.

See also: Women's work, Social class

Overview: In most populations there are between 104 and 107 male babies born for every 100 female babies. Males, however, have a higher risk of death than females at almost every age, particularly during infancy and childhood. Therefore by adulthood most populations have a more even number of men and women, or an excess of women. In England and Wales there were about 92 men aged 14-64 per 100 women in each of the census years from 1851 to 1911. Variations in the sex ratio from place to place, however, were not because sex ratios at birth or differential mortality varied, but because of different levels of migration among men and women. The sex ratio in the working-age group is therefore of considerable interest as an indicator of migration.

Where the sex ratio within a population was higher than 100, there were more men than women, and this could be due to either in-migration of men or out-migration of women. MINING areas in the nineteenth century tended to have high sex ratios, as did areas with army and naval bases, such as Aldershot in Hampshire and Tilbury in Essex, suggesting high levels of male in-migration. However there may also have been significant female out-migration from these areas, particularly MINING areas where job opportunities for women were scarce. Where the sex ratio was lower than 100, there were more women than men. Low sex ratios in PROFESSIONAL areas were likely to have been caused by greater in-migration of young women to work as servants. The low sex ratios in West Wales were, however, were probably related to higher levels of male out-migration. It follows from what has been said that differential migration is strongly linked to particular industrial and occupational structures. It is important to realise that the sex ratio can only indicate where there were differences in migration between men and women. In places where similar numbers of men and women migrated in or out, the sex ratio for that place would not appear unusual, even if the number of migrants was very large.

Sex ratio in the working ages

Sex ratio in the working ages

Socio-economic status & Social class

Socio-economic status (SES)

Definition: This definition of socio-economic status (SES), based on HISCLASS, provides the number of men aged 14-64 years in each of five socio-economic status groups, expressed as a percentage of all men aged 14-64 years.

Calculation: HISCLASS is an international historical socio-economic status (SES) scheme, designed to allow comparisons across different periods, countries and languages (http://www.hisma.org/HISMA/HISCLASS.html). It allocates each occupational title to one of 12 classes, but here we have summarised those into just five larger groups. These five socio-economic groups are: 1 (HISCLASS 1 & 2): high skilled non-manual workers such as higher managers and professionals; 2 (HISCLASS 3-6): lower skilled non-manual workers such as clerical and sales personnel; 3 (HISCLASS 7-8): higher skilled manual workers such as plasterers, blacksmiths, farmers, and fishermen; 4 (HISCLASS 9-10): lower skilled manual workers including miners and many factory workers; and 5 (HISCLASS 11-12): unskilled manual workers including farm labourers and general labourers. The number of men aged 14-64 in each group has been counted, divided by the total number of men aged 14-64 who gave an occupation, and multiplied by 100.

It is important to bear in mind that this definition of socio-economic status is unlikely to match exactly to status or consumption hierarchies, and that the levels of ‘skill’ embedded in the categorisation may be challenged.

Please note: The scales on the maps for each SES group are different.

See also: Social class - RG; Type of place, Women's work.

Overview: Industrial and occupational change over this period is evident in the increasing percentages of men occupied in non-manual work (social classes 1 and 2), although SES:1 still made up only a very small percentage of the total. There was also a rise in lower skilled manual workers (SES: 4) over time. These increases were at the expense of a proportionate decrease in unskilled labourers, many of whom worked in agriculture. Agricultural labourers decreased in absolute terms too, declining by about a third between 1851 and 1911. Agricultural mechanisation and increasing efficiency in farming meant that at least as much food could be produced with less and less labour, and men who would previously have been agricultural labourers found more lucrative work in the manufacturing and tertiary sectors. This labour market shift is reflected in rural to urban migration flows as people moved to areas with increasing job opportunities.

Social class

The five SES groups were not evenly distributed across the different types of place. PROFESSIONAL places had significantly higher proportions of men employed in non-manual occupations, although these proportions were not increasing as fast as in other types of place. The growth in non-manual classes was particularly strong in London and its surroundings, although there was some retreat of the most privileged away from the centre to outer and suburban districts. Skilled non-manual workers (SES:2), such as clerks and sales workers, increased everywhere, but cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham exhibited particularly marked growth. SES:3 includes farmers, as well as a variety of other skilled workers, and the westerly areas of England and Wales, where agriculture was dominated by small family farms, showed higher than average concentrations of this group. However this was also true of places with certain industries such as shoe-making, and the geographic distribution of SES:3 changed little over the time period. MINING and TEXTILE areas had particularly high proportions of semi-skilled manual workers (SES:4), which is not surprising given that most miners and textile workers were placed in this class. Growth in the proportion of men in SES:4 was stronger in MINING areas than in TEXTILE areas, reflecting the growth of the mining industry over this period. AGRICULTURAL areas, particularly those in the south east of the country, had high but declining proportions of unskilled manual labourers. This group contains both agricultural labourers and general labourers and the decline in numbers amongst the former group was probably the main cause of the geographic variations in the proportion of SES:5 men.

Social class

Social class - RG

Definition: The social class variables given here provide the number of men aged 15-64 years in each social class (as defined by the Registrar General in 1911) expressed as a percentage of all men aged 15-64 years.

Calculation: This classification was designed by the Registrar General (RG) of England and Wales in 1911. It is based on occupation, and allocates each occupational title to one of five RG's classes, while also singling out three groups of occupations for special treatment. These three special groups are not included in the five RG's classes. The RG's classes are: I: professional and managerial (eg doctor, lawyer, accountant); II: Skilled non-manual/intermediate (eg farmer, dealer); III: Skilled manual (eg plasterer, blacksmith, electrician); IV: Semi-skilled manual (eg machinist, postman, barman); V: Unskilled manual (eg labourer, watchman). The three special occupational groups are: VI: Textile workers; VII: Miners; and VIII: Agricultural labourers. The number of men aged 14-64 in each group has been counted, divided by the total number of men aged 14-64 who gave an occupation, and multiplied by 100.

It is important to bear in mind that this definition of class is unlikely to match exactly to status or consumption hierarchies, and that the levels of ‘skill’ embedded in the categorisation may be challenged.

Although this classification has many similarities with Socio-economic status also provided here, it also has important differences. The main difference is the separation of the three 'special' occupational groups into separate classes. Another notable difference is that farmers are placed in RG's class II, whereas they fall in SES:3. The RG's classification is useful for comparison with the work of other people who have previously carried out research on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England and Wales, as they have mostly used this scheme. However the RG’s class scheme does not allow easy comparison with work undertaken on other countries or other times, and for this reason we also show the more widely used Socio-economic status based on HISCLASS.

Please note: The scales on the maps for each class are different.

See also: Socio-economic status; Type of place, Women's work.

Overview: Industrial and occupational change over the 1851-1911 period is evident in the increasing proportion of men designated as belonging to the highest social class (social class I). However there was also a rise in social class IV over time, and a growth in the proportion of men employed as miners. The largest decrease was in the proportion of men employed as agricultural labourers, and these workers decreased in absolute terms too: the number of agricultural labourers declined by about a third between 1851 and 1911. Agricultural mechanisation and increasing efficiency in farming meant that at least as much food was able to be produced with less and less labour, and men who would previously have been employed as agricultural labourers found more lucrative work in the manufacturing and tertiary sectors.

RG's class

The different social classes were not evenly distributed across the different types of place. Unsurprisingly, textile workers were concentrated in TEXTILE districts, miners in MINING districts, and agricultural labourers in AGRICULTURAL districts. PROFESSIONAL and SEMI-PROFESSIONAL places had significantly higher proportions of men allocated to social class I, although this proportion was not increasing as fast as in other types of place. Along with MINING areas, OTHER URBAN areas had low proportions of the highest social classes. However the highest proportions of social class V, the lowest and least skilled class, were found in TRANSPORT areas which were characterised by insecure manual work loading, un-loading and guarding goods.

RG's class

Women's work

Married women working

Definition: The number of married women aged 15 or over recorded as having an occupation (other than housewife or household duties), expressed as a percentage of all married women aged 15 or over.

Calculation: The percentage of married women working has been calculated using the marital status, age, sex, and occupation fields in the individual level census returns. The number of women aged 15 or over reported to be married and in employment was divided by the number of all married women aged 15 or over and the result multiplied by 100.

See also: Single women working; Widowed women working; Domestic servants; Textile workers; Socio-economic status; Social class - RG

Overview: Nationwide the propensity of married women to record an occupation on census night halved between 1851 (20 per cent) and 1901 (9 per cent), with the biggest drop recorded between the 1881 and 1891 censuses. To some extent changes in this variable may be affected by the way that the occupation question was asked in the different censuses, and the particular instructions which were given regarding married women. For example between 1851 and 1881 respondents were instructed that the female relatives of farmers or lodging house keepers were to be recorded as occupied, as 'farmer's wife' or 'lodging house keeper's wife'. This instruction was dropped in 1891 and this might contribute to the sudden fall in married women's work in this year.

Married women working

However inspection of the maps shows that married women's work was highly spatially concentrated, and not limited to areas with significant numbers of farmers' and lodging house keepers' wives. Between the 1850s and 1880s there were significant employment opportunities for married women in textile manufacture in Lancashire and West Yorkshire; the straw plaiting industry in Bedfordshire and Essex; glove making and other sewing in Worcestershire; pottery in Stoke on Trent; and lace-making in Devon and in Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire. By the end of the century these enclaves had either disappeared or considerably shrunk.

This picture of shrinking work opportunities for married women is confirmed by the graph of percentages of married women working in the different types of place. Opportunities for paid work for married women were always considerably higher in TEXTILE areas, and lowest in MINING areas, but they reduced everywhere between 1851 and 1901.

The contraction in employment opportunities for married women has been attributed to the rise of the 'male breadwinner ethic' and the 'cult of domesticity' which identified the home as the proper place for a married woman. Within this culture, paid work in most areas became restricted to only the poorest and most desperate of married women. These cultural factors might also have made male heads increasingly reluctant to record occupations for their wives, but the simultaneous decrease in job opportunities for widowed women suggests that the downturn is a real phenomenon, rather than a cultural artefact. It is also important to note that the census was supposed to record regular, paid occupations, and it is therefore likely to have excluded a variety of seasonal and ad hoc opportunities for women to earn money, as well as unpaid labour.

Married women working

Single women working

Definition: The number of single women aged 15 or over recorded as having an occupation (other than housewife or household duties), expressed as a percentage of all single women aged 15 or over.

Calculation: The percentage of single women working has been calculated using the marital status, age, sex, and occupation fields in the individual level census returns. The number of women aged 15 or over reported to be unmarried and in employment was divided by the number of all unmarried women aged 15 or over and the result multiplied by 100.

See also: Married women working; Widowed women working; Domestic servants; Textile workers; Socio-economic status; Social class - RG

Overview: Around 70 per cent of single women were recorded as having an occupation in each census between 1851 and 1911. However this disguises considerable regional variation.

Single women working

Single women were employed in a wide range of occupations in nineteenth century England and Wales. They could be found in factory work, the pottery industry, agriculture, food and drink manufacture, retail, needlework, and other petty trades. By far the largest employment opportunity for single women, however, was the service industry, which accounted for around 50 per cent of single women's work in 1851, but decline set in and by 1911 only 40 per cent of single women were employed in this sector. Although there were opportunities to work in domestic service across the country, these were more plentiful where wealthier people were concentrated, such as the west end of London and in the Home Counties. The textile industry was the second largest employer of young women, and this work was concentrated in the cotton manufacturing areas of Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

The regional nature of certain employment opportunities for young women shows up in the graph of the percentages of single women occupied in each type of place (below). In TEXTILE areas the strong demand for young women to work in the cotton and woollen mills led to an employment rate of between 80 and 90 per cent of single women. In contrast there were fewer jobs available in MINING areas, where not much more than half of all single women were able to find paid work by the end of the nineteenth century.

Single women working

Widowed women working

Definition: The number of widowed women aged 15 or over recorded as having an occupation (other than housewife or household duties), expressed as a percentage of all widowed women aged 15 or over.

Calculation: The percentage of widowed women working has been calculated using the marital status, age, sex, and occupation fields in the individual level census returns. The number of women aged 15 or over reported to be widowed and in employment was divided by the number of all widowed women aged 15 or over and the result multiplied by 100.

See also: Single women working; Married women working; Domestic service; Textile work; Socio-economic status; Social class - RG.

Overview: In an era before state pensions, widowhood came with a significant risk of poverty, and this forced many widows to seek paid employment. Around half of all widows were recorded as having an occupation between 1851 and 1881, but this fell to around 40 per cent in 1891 (a decline also seen in married women's work). In the beginning of the period a significant number of widows were able to find work in the TEXTILE and straw plaiting areas, producing some regional patterning of the likelihood that widows would be working. However these opportunities appear to have diminished over the course of the half century, and by 1911 there was little geographic pattern to widows' work (with the exception of continued low levels of opportunity in MINING areas). Widows were left predominantly doing laundry work, charring (cleaning), shop work and sewing.

Widowed women working

Widowed women working

Domestic service & Textile work (women)

Definition: Women aged 14-64 working in domestic service, or in the textile industry, as a percentage of all working women aged 14-64.

Calculation: The percentage of women working in domestic service, or in the textile industry, has been calculated using the age and occupation fields in the individual level census returns. The number of women aged 14 -64 reported to be employed in domestic service, or in the textile industry, was divided by the number of all women aged 14-64 in employment and the result multiplied by 100.

See also: Married women working; Single women working; Widowed women working; Households with live-in servants.

Overview: The two largest sectors of employment for women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were domestic service and the textile industry. In most years around 10 per cent of working women were employed in the textile industry, but until the turn of the century nearly a third of all women between the ages of 14 and 64 who recorded an occupation, worked as a domestic servant. The decline in servant keeping which started towards the end of the nineteenth century can also be seen in the percentage of households with a live-in servant, although that measure does not take into account the many servants who did not live in their employer's home.

Domestic service & Textile work (women)

Domestic service & Textile work (women)

Obviously not every place offered opportunities to work in domestic service or textiles. Unsurprisingly textile work was highly concentrated in the TEXTILE areas (where a large percentage of men were also employed in textiles) of Lancashire and West Yorkshire. In some of these districts over 80 per cent of women who worked were employed in the textile industry. The corollary of this was that domestic service formed a very small percentage of women's labour in TEXTILE areas throughout the period. Domestic service was also relatively low in OTHER URBAN areas, where there were plentiful other opportunities for work. It must be remembered that proportions of all women who were servants was not necessarily low in these areas: high numbers of women working in other jobs may simply have been depressing the share of servants. For similar reasons, in MINING areas the share of working women who were servants looks quite high, but women were less likely to have been in work at all, so this does not mean that there was a lot of servant keeping in such places. In fact households with live-in servants show us that servant keeping was low in all three of these types of area (MINING, TEXTILE and OTHER URBAN). In PROFESSIONAL areas a fairly high percentage of women were working (whether they were married, single or widowed), and these women were also very likely to have been working in service. AGRICULTURAL areas are the one type of area where the percentage of working women who were employed in service seems to have increased over time. The concentration of this change in counties such as Bedfordshire suggests that it was probably due to the decline of alternative employment such as straw-plaiting and does not indicate that the percentage of all women who were working as servants had increased.

Domestic service & Textile work (women)

Children's work and schooling

Children per teacher

Definition: The number of children aged 4 to 13 years for every teacher.

Calculation: The number of children has been calculated by counting the number of people from the age of 5, up to the age of 13. Teachers have been defined by their occupation given in the census. The number of children per teacher has been calculated by dividing the number of children by the number of teachers. It must be remembered that not all children will have been going to school, and not all teachers will have taught children of this age. Therefore this measure is more about educational provision than it is about class sizes.

See also: Children's work

Overview: In 1851 there were over 60 children for every teacher in England and Wales, and this declined steadily until the turn of the century when there were only around half as many children for every teacher. Interpreting this decline, however, is not straightforward. We do not know whether each child in the census was actually going to school or not, nor whether they attended full-time or half-time. Therefore very high numbers of children per teacher do not necessarily mean that class sizes were enormous: they could instead mean that some children in the district never attended school, or that many left school before the age of 13. Therefore this measure is more about educational provision than it is about class size, and a decrease in the number of children per teacher reflects improvements in educational provision. It is likely that the trends in the number of children per teacher reflect changes in legislation related to education. The first Education Act in 1870 established school boards which could build and manage schools, and the 1880 Education Act made school compulsory between the ages of 5 and 10 years, although it is likely that the continued need to pay fees until 1891 meant that not all children would have attended school. The effect of these Acts will have been to increase the numbers of teachers, therefore reducing the numbers of children per teacher. Further increases in educational provision are likely to have been associated with rises in the minimum school leaving age to 11 years in 1893 and to 12 years in 1899.

Children per teacher

In 1851, the first census year we have available, there were very wide disparities in educational provision across different types of area. There were 33 children per teacher in PROFESSIONAL areas, but 105 in MINING areas, and high numbers in TEXTILE, OTHER URBAN and TRANSPORT areas too. The maps show that there were further regional patterns which are missed by our types of place: in 1851 Wales was particularly poorly served with teachers, many districts having over 150 children per teacher. However the various Education Acts (see above) had the desired effect of improving provision most in places which were initially poorly served. By 1911, although there were still large disparities, they had diminished considerably. The only area which was noticeably poorly served in 1911 was the East End of London. While some children may have left school at a younger age or escaped going at all, and class sizes may have been larger in this poor part of London, the apparent lack of provision may to some extent be an artefact caused by the census recording people where they lived and not where they worked. For the most part London children will have lived close to their school at this time, but the good transport system within the capital meant that their teachers could live in more attractive parts of London and commute to work in the East End. Thus the apparent growth of extreme inequality in education apparent in the maps of London may to some extent be exaggerated.

Children per teacher

Children working

Definition: Number of girls (or boys) aged 10-13 (or 14-18) with an occupation, expressed as a percentage of all girls (or boys) of the same age.

Calculation: The percentage of children working has been calculated using the age, sex, and occupation fields in the individual level census returns. The number of boys (or girls) aged 10-13 (or 14-18) has been calculated by counting the number of boys (or girls) from the age of 10 up to the age of 13 (or from the age of 14 up to the age of 18) who report an employment, dividing this number by the number of all boys (or girls) in that age group and multiplying the result by 100.

See also: Children per teacher

Overview: Despite a common perception that large proportions of Victorian children were earning money, and an absence of compulsory schooling, in 1851 percentages of children aged 10-13 who were working were actually rather small: just 16 per cent of boys and 9 per cent of girls. This number fell further over the course of the next 60 years as legislation simultaneously increased the minimum working age (to 10 years in 1878, 11 in 1891 and 12 in 1901) and made education compulsory (up to age 10 in 1870, age 11 in 1893 and age 12 in 1899). Older children, aged 14-18, were much more likely to have been working: around 30 per cent of girls and around 40 per cent of boys. These figures remained steady, with perhaps a slight increase, over the period. Although fewer girls than boys were working, they were almost certainly less likely to have been at school. Some girls would have been at school, of course, but those neither in school nor employment were probably taking on housework and domestic duties in the home.

Children working

There were considerable regional differences in the opportunities for children to take a paid occupation, and the areas with high proportions of young children (aged 10-13) in work are similar to those where high proportions of married women were in work. The graph shows that significant employment opportunities for children were concentrated in the TEXTILE areas of Lancashire and West Yorkshire, where in 1851 and 1861 nearly a quarter of both boys and girls aged 10-13 were in work. MINING districts also provided significant work opportunities, but only for boys, and specific legislation meant that these declined quicker than those in TEXTILE areas. The maps show that there were also other localised pockets of child employment in the early years, such as in the straw plaiting and lace making areas where there were also opportunities for married women at this time. The elimination of work opportunities for children in such places may have had more to do with the decline of those industries than restrictive legislation. By 1911 the only enclave where significant proportions of children aged 10-13 were in paid employment was the TEXTILE areas. The fact that in 1881 around 15 per cent of 10-13 year olds in these areas were working, however, does not necessarily mean that they had left school. From 1878 10-14 year olds working in factories were only allowed to be employed for half the day, leaving the other half of the day free to attend lessons.

Children working

Children working

By the age of 14-18, more girls and boys were recorded as being in paid employment, although regional differences are evident. Similar percentages (about 44 per cent) of girls were working in TEXTILE areas as boys. For girls TEXTILE areas had the most extensive work opportunities by some way, but for boys opportunities were more plentiful in MINING areas where there was rather little paid work available for girls. PROFESSIONAL areas had similar percentages (about 30 per cent) of girls and boys in work: for boys, but not for girls, this figure was low compared to other places. Both the sons and daughters of the middle classes and non-manual workers were likely to have stayed at school longer, but there were more employment opportunities for the daughters of the manual classes in these places, and teenage girls were also likely to have migrated in to work as servants for the better-off.

Children working

Children working