On this Day 2nd April 1871

The 1871 Census - Penwith Peaks

The 1871 census took place on 2 April 1871 and was similar in structure to the previous one in 1861. An interesting example from the Penzance census is of No 1, Market Place, a Druggist Shop, headed by Gertrude Symons, a chemist’s widow. The Symons family were still running a chemist’s shop in Penzance town centre until about 2013 – a long run.

Many of the entries show one or more servants living with each family, reflecting the increasing wealth and social status of at least part of the population. The mining industry in West Cornwall was just passing its peak and the census shows a total population of 56,925 for the parishes of West Penwith with 10,425 in Penzance, 9992 in St Ives and 9011 in St Just. The Penzance population remained much the same until the 1970s, St Ives grew slightly but St Just was about to enter a period of serious decline with population halving by 1931.

As with previous censuses, this one is very useful for social history; every family with children shows them as scholars, reflecting both the favourable attitude to education and government legislation. The number of seamen’s wives indicates the continuing importance of both the fishing and coastal trades; lists of the merchant ships in Penzance on enumeration night were joined now by a Royal Naval ship, with no indication if she was based here, or just passing through. Numerous shops such as shoemakers, dressmakers and cabinet makers indicate that the town was still quite self sufficient in supplying the population with its daily needs. The increasing expectations of health services was illustrated by numerous nurses, doctors, dentists and chemists’ shops. Without a detailed check, it is difficult to identify the number of tourists but April is quite early in the year. This was the last census of the time of prosperity and expansion in West Cornwall, resulting from the hitherto very successful mines in the region.

 

Parish

Population 1871

 

Parish

Population 1871

Gulval

1668

 

Sennen

630

Lelant

2178

 

St Buryan

1437

Ludgan

2960

 

St Erth

2317

Madron (not inc Penzance)

2765

 

St Hilary

2797

Marazion

1267

 

St Ives (borough)

9992

Morvah

356

 

St Just (inc Pendeen)

9011

Paul

5748

 

St Levan

536

Penzance

10425

 

Towednack

849

Sancreed

1182

 

Zennor

807

 

28549

 

 

28376

Total Population of West Penwith in 1871

56925

 




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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"

Edited by
Sally Corbet


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