On this Day 6th June 1841

1841 Census of Penwith

The first modern census of the UK was taken on Sunday 6 June 1841. Four national census enumerations had been taken previously in 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 but these had been purely numeric, except where names were collected locally as in St Hilary in 1801. The 1841 census was taken under the auspices of the General Register Office which had been set up in 1836 to manage civil registration – births, marriages and deaths. From the point of view of local history and genealogy this is a significant moment as it leads to the creation of unified indices of births, marriages and deaths from September quarter 1837. Just as important is the change the General Register Office brought to census collection – names, ages, households and occupation can be seen for the first time together with whether or not a person was born in county. This change is just a part of the trend at the time to diminish the role of the Parish and substitute agencies with specific roles.

It should be stressed that the data we have for 1841 does not come directly from the original schedules but from the Enumerators Books into which the original data was copied. Copying always introduces errors and these errors combined with erratic spellings of names and places can, on occasion, make individuals tricky to find. Below is a family living in Cockwells in 1841, not exactly chosen at random, I was looking for Susanna Trevorrow a few weeks ago:

White Cross,
1,Elizabeth Trevorrow,,60,,In county,
John Trevorrow,25,,Coper Miner,In county,
William Trevorrow,20,,Coper Miner,In county,
James Trevorrow,15,,Coper Miner,In county,
John Trevorrow,5,,,In county,
Susan Trevorrow,,30,Miner,In county,
Richard Trevorrow,40,,Miner,In county,

So you can see name, age, occupation and whether born in county. You can also see that errors have been introduced where the occupation has been listed as coper miner instead of copper miner. This example comes from the free Cornwall Online Census Project so the error could have been introduced anywhere along the way to the end-product on the website. Handwriting can also lead to problems in finding people so a bit of persistence and lateral thinking may be required. What is not given clearly in 1841 is the relationship between one person and another but you can see that they are all in the same household. What, for instance, is the relationship between John aged 5 and the others?

Susanna Trevorrow was a bal maiden who worked at Wheal Darlington in Ludgvan parish. In 1854 she was working on a burrow (waste heap) and it collapsed on her, killing her outright. She was buried in Ludgvan churchyard on 18 August 1854.

The table below shows population figures for the West Penwith parishes based upon the 1801-1841 census.

 

Parish

1801

1811

1821

1831

1841

Gulval

1076

1224

1353

1467

1941

Lelant

1083

1180

1271

1602

2012

Ludgan

1324

1491

1839

2322

3190

Madron (not inc Penzance)

1564

1819

2011

2058

2441

Marazion

Pt of St Hilary

Pt of St Hilary

1253

1393

1682

Morvah

282

273

325

377

407

Paul

2937

3371

3790

4191

4664

Penzance (borough)

2248

2297

2671

3293

3503

Sancreed

782

790

1001

1069

1248

Sennen

431

495

537

689

659

St Buryan

1161

1181

1495

1707

1911

St Erth

1122

1317

1604

1922

2452

St Hilary

990

1248

1558

1728

2649

St Ives (borough)

3797

4461

4797

6378

7678

St Just (inc Pendeen)

2779

3057

3666

4667

7047

St Levan

400

434

490

515

531

Towednack

465

532

582

736

967

Zennor

544

671

715

811

1025

Total West Penwith

22985

25841

30958

36925

46007

Cornwall Total

192281

220525

261045

301306

342159

GB Total

10942646

12596803

14481139

16643028

18844434

Source of data: relevant parish pages of Genuki

Cornwall data from Bernard Deacon, Population Change in Cornwall Since 1801

GB numbers from Vision of Britain

Free access to the 1841 census of Cornwall is here.

For a guide to the 1801 - 1831 Census look here. (does not include actual census data)

 




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Penwith Local History Group
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Growing Up in West Cornwall. A Publication by the Penwith Local History Group

"Growing Up in West Cornwall"

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Sally Corbet


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