Updated 25 Nov 2000

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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1841 Census Background

The 1841 Census was the first for which the Government decided it needed more than just the numbers of people in the various age groups. Reaction was sharp and unfavourable, on theological grounds from those who believed that "numbering the people" was blasphemous, and on more practical grounds from a suspicion that the object was to extract more taxes, force a resettlement of poor people or their emigration, or just plain getting to know too much about the private individual. The amount of information to be collected was therefore restricted, and instead of sending strangers from London, local residents were appointed as "enumerators". The idea was partly that they would get more cooperation, partly that they would know more of what was required anyway, so false information would be detected at source.
Households are normally set out in "natural order" with father first, then mother and the children, then other relatives, servants, employees, lodgers and visitors - but no relationships are stated, so the searcher may be mislead by the unusual combinations, of brother and sister, nieces and nephews etc.

(Extract from "The Censuses 1841-1881" by Eve McLaughlin)
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