Welcome to

A census is a complete population count for a given area or place taken on a specific date. That for 1841 took place on 6th June, and is considered to be the first modern UK census. Each householder was required to complete a census schedule giving the address of the household, the names, ages, sexes, occupations and places of birth of each individual residing in his or her accommodation, and the results showed a population of 760 persons on that date resident in Witheridge.

In 1841, the administration of the census passed into the hands of the Registrar General and the Superintendent Registrars. After information was recorded on pre-printed census schedules, a schedule was left with a household and later collected by the enumerator. If there was no one in the house who could write, the enumerator helped to record the information. The census enumerator then copied the information on the schedules into their official books known as census enumerators' books.

Using the information provided by the 1841 census, we can obtain a picture of the occupations of the people of Witheridge Town at that time.

We have a transcription of the 1841 census available, and are currently working on one for the 1891 census. If anyone wants a copy they should contact us, using the contact address on this page.

33 servants
8 carpenters
4 dressmakers
3 milliners
2 thatchers
2 builders
2 surgeons
1 officer of excise
1 watchmaker
1 stonecutter
1 lace maker
1 scrivener
69 agricultural labourers
7 shoemakers
4 sawyers
3 blacksmiths
2 hawkers
2 butchers
1 glazier
1 tailor
1 joiner
1 tinker
1 postman
1 gatekeeper
9 masons
4 wheelwrights
3 carriers
3 innkeepers
2 sweeps
2 coopers
1 cotton spinner
1 maltster
1 saddler
1 lace mender
1 attorney at law

A few notes and comments

The attorney would have needed a scrivener (writer) to write out legal documents for him.

The three innkeepers; The Angel and Black Dog were two of the inns; the other was either The Bell or The Hare and Hounds.

Four dressmakers and only one tailor suggests a difference of opinion between men and women over the importance of clothes.

The masons, carpenters, thatchers, builders, sawyers, the joiner, the glazier, the stonecutter, show the local resources for maintaining and building.

The three carriers mark the need of contact with places like Tiverton, South Molton and Exeter. Their successors would be prominent in the transport expansion 80 years later.

The presence of the gatekeeper shows that one of the two new turnpike gates and tollhouses was in being.

The maltster could have made malt or dealt in it.

The new national postal service began in 1840; hence the postman.

Coopers would always be in demand to make and repair barrels.

The schoolmasters were Thomas Comins (50) and William Cann (24). The Comins family were leading church people, so Thomas was probably head of the old National School before the new one was built in 1846. William may have been assistant to Thomas, or just possibly head of the original British (Chapel) School before the Independent School was built in 1845.

By 1841 Heathcoat's Tiverton factory had been making machine lace for 20 years, but the decision of Queen Victoria to have handmade lace on her wedding dress made such lace fashionable. So lace makers were still needed, and lace had to be mended skilfully.

The number of agricultural workers in the town itself seems high, at 69, bearing in mind the need for them to get to work on their feet. However, there were three farms actually in the town, and another twenty within half an hour's walk. Few farms included farm workers cottages on their land.

The 1841 Census uses the term "Witheridge Town" in reference to what we know as the village. This may be due to the fact that Witheridge's Borough status had not long decayed and local pride took over. The term was to have a long life, for in the early years of the twentieth century there was at least one resident who used the expression "going up town", when she was talking of going up to Witheridge.

Previous      Go to Top      Home       Text Version      Next Page

Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

Unless otherwise indicated on the page in question, the photographic images reproduced on this site belong to the Witheridge Archives, and, as such may not be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission. However, you are welcome to use any of the photographs belonging to the archive for personal and/or non-commercial use. Any material shown as not being owned by the archive may not be reproduced in any form without first receiving written permission from the owner of the material in question.