Oxford History: The Census


The 1841 Oxford census

The 1841 census was held on the Sunday night of 6/7 June 1841. Before the census there were two reports in the local press, one explaining the payment of the enumerators and the other warning households what to expect, and one afterwards, reporting on the problems encountered.

Jackson's Oxford Journal, 3 April 1841 on the payment of enumerators:

The persons employed in taking the new census are to be paid in proportion to the number of houses or persons in the districts assigned to them; from 10s. for every district containing less than 50 inhabited houses or 300 persons, up to 1l. 1s. for every district containing from 150 to 160 inhabited houses or 900 to 960 persons enumerated, with an increasing rate of 1s. for every 10 additional houses or 60 additional persons. The time has been altered by Government from the 1st of July to the 7th of June.

Jackson's Oxford Journal, 5 June 1841 on the mechanics of the census in Oxford:

THE CENSUS.—The Census of the whole of the united kingdom will be taken on Monday next June 7. The eleven united parishes of this city have been divided into 18 districts, to which an equal number of enumerators have been appointed. The following persons are selected to perform the duties of the office: Cruse Horn, Samuel Woodward, William Thorpe, Fred. Varney, Thos. H. Evans, Henry Smith, William T. Hicks, Richard King, Thomas Hall, James Maltby, Henry Carr, John Simmons, Wm. Cheney, Charles A. Green, Frederick Whitby, Thomas Luff, William Rogers, and Fred. Faulkner. A blank schedule is left at every house, with full directions for filling it up, under the several divisions of name, age, sex, occupation, and birth (whether in the county or elsewhere.) The plan is for each housekeeper's schedule (understanding by "housekeeper" the party now in charge of the dwelling) to include the return of all who sleep in the house on the night of Sunday next, June 6. The papers will be called for on Monday. By this mode, either double or imperfect returns will be precluded. Visitors will be reckoned in the localities where they are staying for the time. It would afford much facility to a correct return, as well as lighten the labours of the persons employed, if the heads of families to whom schedules have been delivered will be careful to fill them up according to the directions given. That of the colleges and halls in Oxford devolves on their respective Principals.

Jackson's Oxford Journal, 12 June 1841 on the problems encountered with the Oxford census

THE CENSUS.—The general census was taken on Monday last, and the enumerators, to whom this duty was entrusted, must have had no easy task, for, in addition to the trouble consequent upon it, they had to contend with the fears and prejudices of many who conjured up all kinds of evils as likely to arise from this enquiry. Some who imagined that so rigid an investigation as to age and number of individuals, under each roof, must contemplate an addition to the Assessed Taxes, took the precaution of sending a few of their inmates out to sleep; while others, entertaining a more charitable view of the matter, not only very kindly supplied all the information desired but a great deal more than the Registrar either required or expected! As it was compulsory to furnish the names of all who slept or abode in a house the previous night, it had an amusing effect, especially with the "fair and frail ones," some of whom, we understand, were under the necessity of noting down names that were not meant for "open day or vulgar gaze!" The increase of the population in this place will be very considerable, for the number of inhabitants, huddled together in the largest and humblest parishes, is incredible. As proof of this we have only to mention that in one of the lodging houses alone, in St. Thomas's, there were no less than 27 strangers sojourning there.

© Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 23 September, 2019

Headington homeSmall Shark Oxford History home