Cransford – 1871

It’s that time again, and I’m pleased to bring you the headlines from the Cransford census of 1871 compared to the preceding schedules in 1861. 

Just like last time, my first headline is that Cransford has shrunk in terms of the population if not the acreage. Many of the 284 individuals here in 1861 have gone – either to the grave or pastures new. The number of people in the parish now stands at just 237, a drop of 16.5% on ten years earlier and 23.3% on twenty years earlier. In the space of a generation, this must have felt like a pretty significant change.  

Households too have dropped, from 70 to 65 and now to 54, with two dwellings standing unoccupied. Are the latter the same two as ten years before? No. Although one could be. Have some cottages gone completely? Perhaps. Or have some houses, previously home to more than one family, become home to fewer residents? Some map and community reconstruction work may suggest the answers.

As is now traditional, it’s time to look at the age headlines. The first thing to say is that for the first time in the compilation of one of these census posts, we have a lopsided age pyramid: where did all the women go? Granted there are only 17 more men than women, but at 46% vs 54%, we could start to find that young men could struggle to find a match (if this pattern is repeated in surrounding areas) – especially as the largest gap is in 11-20-year-olds. It seems many teenage girls/women had left their rural homes for domestic work in the city of London or elsewhere. This in itself is interesting as it’s often assumed that the men left alone for economic opportunity rather than women. 

This ‘gap’ in the women’s list contributes to the mean age of a woman in Cransford in 1871 being 30.7 – significantly higher than the 25 seen in 1861. Men, too, were older on average, with a mean age of 30.4. 

Only four babies (half the number of ten years earlier) appear in the enumeration book. This is part of a more significant reduction in the number of younger members of the community. While those between 0-10 remain the largest proportion of the population, the percentage has fallen from a chunky 33% to just 22%, an almost identical ratio to the 11-20 age group. It rather suggests that couples are choosing to move elsewhere, and their children are not being born in Cransford.

More than half of the village’s women were 30-60 and just over 4 in 10 men. The dent in the pyramid remains between the children and the over 40s, especially in the male half of the pyramid. Is it a stretch to say that until the 1860s men were more likely to seek opportunities in urban areas and now women are doing the same?

Surnames in the community have taken another tumble by the 1871 census, with only 53 in the village, compared to 64 in 1861. This time around, only ten are needed to cover more than half of the inhabitants (14 in 1861). Chilvers, the most common ten years earlier, has surged ahead from 18 to 26 individuals – making them more than 10% of the entire parish.

The top ten names are as follows: Chilvers (26), Robinson (16), Watts (15), Banthorp (13), Barker (11), Crane (11), Eagle (9), Harling (8), Barber (7), and Kerridge (7). Interestingly, the Bakers fall out of the top ten after decades of being towards the top of the table. The Goodchild family disappear altogether before the census. At the same time, the Robinsons are brand new – a small population means a family with many children can immediately find themselves towards the top of the league table. 

Which brings us nicely to the comings and goings over the preceding ten years! 56% of those present in 1861 were gone by 1871 (182 people), leaving 44% (102) to stay put. These are similar proportions to my last post.

So what became of them? Just as in earlier posts, there are a few where I reserve the right to re-assess my conclusions, but here are my numbers as they stand:

  • 30 (at least) died. (16.5%)
  • 95 (52.2%) moved locally. Whole families often move together; most of them seem to remain in agriculture, domestic service or their current occupation for the next census. It is not proving the case that families lived their whole lives in one parish by this time.
  • 44 (24.2%) moved elsewhere in the UK. Almost equal numbers of men and women took this route, the average age of men 23, and women just 15. This time London was dominant, but it’s interesting to see the number of teenage girls working in vicarages and the like around Norfolk and Suffolk. I suspect that Rev Pooley (or his wife) played a part in finding many of the girls ’places’.
  • 13 still need to be pinned down with a bit more certainty!

In previous years much of this movement was balanced by newcomers. By 1871, though, numbers hadn’t broken even for well over a decade. Between 1861 and 1871, 182 left, but only 129 ‘arrived’ (either through birth or migration). As ever, this misses out anyone that came and went again between census years. 

  • 51 (39.5% of my 129) are under ten, so couldn’t have been in the 1861 census, a significantly smaller proportion than the 50+% ten years earlier. The vast majority were born in the village.
  • 38 (29%) are what I have classed ‘new workers’. Fifteen were married. Twelve are ag labs or male farm servants. Eight are farmers; it seems there has been a seachange in the tenant farmer community, perhaps partly due to the arrival of Lord Rendlesham as a significant landowner. The new women workers are mostly domestic servants (eight), with the last two being a milliner and the new schoolmistress. In the male contingent, there is also a gardener, tailor, wheelwright/grocer, two blacksmiths, a carpenter and two apprentices. 
  • 15 of the ‘new workers’ brought a wife with them (12%). Women’s work is often underrecorded. The enumerator lists these women’s occupations as ‘so and so’s wife’ but that doesn’t mean they weren’t economically active.
  • 13 more are family members of the new workers aged over ten years old (10%; the same as ten years earlier).
  • 4 ‘existing’ Cransford men married and brought their new wives home (3%). 
  • 1 Cransford lady brought a husband to the village (quite the rarity!) – very possibly he actually moved in before he met her, though!
  • The final 7 (5%) were widowed mothers and other family members that had moved to be with their families (or were just visiting). (4%). 

In conclusion, by 1871, the slide had become a slump; the parish was also older and less fertile. However, there was work for those that remained, including 52 agricultural labourers (only down from 58) and several tradespeople. No one was recorded as a pauper or out of employment.

The exodus was not yet complete, though. Next time we’ll look at the 1881 census, by which time the population would slump still further, to just 182. Just 79 of those had been in the parish in 1871, and only 25 ag labs remained… 

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