Cransford – 1861

For the next chapter in the history of Cransford, I compare the make-up of the parish in 1861 with ten years earlier (see the last instalment here).

As noted before, the census is only one way to look at a parish. Still, it is a reasonably good representation of how the population looked on the surface – age, sex, occupation, family size and the like. 

The most obvious change compared to 1851, is that by 1861 the population had started to slump, dropping from 309 to 284. This fall is not, perhaps, an enormous nosedive in the number of individuals, but a reduction of getting on for 10% was nonetheless probably felt in the community. A corresponding fall from 70 to 65 households can also be observed, along with two unoccupied houses (where before there had been none). One of these houses is a very special one, but you’ll have to wait for more on that…

And so we turn to the age profile. In 1851 this was almost even across men and women. No significant change had occurred were it came to the numbers of men and women in 1861: there were 142 women – and 142 men! Men and women were both a mean age of 25, a little younger than the mean ten years earlier. Eight babies and three residents over 80 bookended the population, both figures only a little lower than in 1851.  

But were there significant changes in the population pyramid? Overall, the bottom of the pyramid was still chunky. 30% of the population fell into the age group 0-10 in 1851 and 33% in 1861. In the 11-20 group, the percentage increased by two points. However, the number of 21-30-year-olds fell from 13% to 11%, and the 31-40s from 13% to 9%. The pyramid had a dent by 1861. While it was a dent in both sexes, it was particularly prominent in the men’s column. 

The total number of surnames present in the village had tumbled from 76 to 62 by 1851, rising back to 64 in 1861. Twenty-one of those surnames were held by one person each, usually an unmarried servant or agricultural labourer.

In 1861, 14 surnames were needed to cover half the village, and there were a few changes compared to a decade earlier. The names, in order of popularity, were: Chilvers, Crane, Watts, Baker, Goodchild, Jay, Manning, Mouser, Smith, Barker, Harling, Osborn, Vincent and Capon. 

The Fisks, Banthorps, Reeves and Palmers of 1851 remained but in much smaller numbers, while the Balls name had disappeared. Manning, Osborn and Vincent were all unknown in the 1851 census, but the arrival of a large family of each catapulted them straight to the top of the name charts. 

Which brings us nicely to the comings and goings over the preceding ten years. 58% of those present in 1851 were gone by 1861 (181 people). This is even higher than the figure for 1841 – 1851 (52%). 

So where did they go? Just as before there are a few where I reserve the right to re-assess my conclusions, but here are my numbers as they stand today:

  • 59 (at least) died. This is significantly more than the decade before.
  • 70 (almost 40%) moved locally. Again, single women married and moved to new parishes, single men and women moved to work as dairymen and ag labs on neighbouring farms, children moved with their families to new villages where their fathers found work. 
  • 35 (ten more than my previous comparison) had moved elsewhere in the UK but to quite a variety of places. 21 were men, 14 women, the average age in 1851 was just 17, suggesting it was still younger men that were most likely to travel further.
  • 17 still need to be pinned down with a bit more certainty!

In no particular order, here are some observations about those that travelled out-of-county.

  • Many of those that left remained in agricultural occupations, even in areas we would not now consider countryside, like West Ham and Harrow. 
  • William Balls ended up at Holburn Hill Eating House, along with a few others born in the Cransford area – suggesting some kind of connection.
  • Leavers went all over the country. It is far to say that most went towards London, but also Surrey, Sussex and Kent as well as further afield: Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Wales. 
  • At least two become police constables, part of a wider pattern from other surrounding villages. 

All this of those that left; but we know several came into Cransford to take their places. 163, in fact. As before, it should be noted that others probably came and went between census years and are missed from the analysis altogether. It transpires my numbers don’t precisely add up – I’m working on why! (309 – 181 + 163 = 291, not 284!)

  • 87 (53% of my 163) were under ten, so couldn’t have been in the 1851 census. This is a similar percentage to ten years before.
  • 33 (20%) were what I have classed ‘new workers’. A third of this group were married, the others all unmarried or widows. Interestingly, all but two had left again by 1871. They were carters, ag labs, dairymaids and other domestics for the most part, but also three farmers, two carpenters, the Baptist minister and the schoolmistress. Again, the percentage is relatively similar to ten years earlier.
  • 11 of the ‘new workers’ brought a wife with them (7%)
  • 17 more were family members of the new workers aged over ten years old. Most of them were in their teens (at 10% this is five times the percentage ten years earlier, which might suggest the men bringing their families into the village were older than before and young men were choosing to move their new brides away or leaving before marriage?). 
  • 8 ‘existing’ Cransford men married and brought their new wives home (5%) 
  • 1 Cransford lady brought a husband to the village (quite the rarity!)
  • The final 6 were widowed mothers and other family members that had moved to be with their families (4%) 

And so, by 1861, the population had begun to slide. It appears that those that moved in were often older than those that left. Fewer Cransford men married and brought new wives to the village – more took their wives to pastures new and plenty of others left before they even thought about marriage.

Unlike in 1851, the population was no longer quite able to sustain itself. Although large numbers of children were still being born – and perhaps more were surviving – those children weren’t, it seems, looking towards a lifetime in the local area.

By the time the 1871 census came around the population would have tumbled by another 20% – but we’ll take a look at that next time.

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