Course on using the census schedules for urban, rural, and family history

Research Methods Series, Winter 2021/22

This is a series of events for small groups which will include ‘how to’ sessions like these and some very short-term projects on Lewes related topics. There will be more to come in due course. The events will be at the King’s Church, Lewes, or out of doors, as Zoom isn’t the best medium for discussion groups.

Please note, these events are put on for Lewes History Group members. See our Membership page to join the Group.

Course: Using the census schedules for urban, rural, and family history
Date: Friday 22nd October 2021
Time: 2:00 – 4:45pm with refreshment break
Number Max 10 participants
Venue: King’s Church, Brooks Road, Lewes, BN7 2BY
Leader: Sue Berry

Booking: To book your place, please email Sue Berry at georgianbrighton@gmail.com giving your name. You will have your booking confirmed.

Please book before 1st October 2021. If there is not enough demand by then, we can free the tutor and the venue from the commitment.

A lot of information about the period between 1851 and 1911 can be obtained from the detail given to the enumerators who collected the forms from households for the decennial census.   Using background notes, and transcripts of pages of the first comprehensive census (1851) we will explore the potential of the information about households for urban, rural, and family history.

To do so, you will receive handouts about the parish of Stanmer, and a section of Lewes High Street in 1851, with background notes about the census process. We will compare the information garnered from the two studies to see what we can garner from it.

Stanmer was a small rural parish with a country house, Stanmer Place (in Stanmer Park). In 1851, the house was full of the Pelham family and relatives and its servants. Many local houses were simply cared for by servants, so this is a great chance to compare the stories of the occupants of the house with those in the village.   And there are striking differences which we will see.

Lewes High Street and a couple of its side streets make a good comparison with a rural parish.  You will see different patterns in the occupations, household sizes and the use of houses. During the later 1800s, many middle-class folk lived along High Streets, poorer people packed into the side streets.  Was this true of the sample for Lewes? Were more Lewes residents born locally than was the case for Stanmer, or farther away?  We will look.

These are examples – case studies. But the questions we will ask about them apply to all of the census.

Sue Berry has used the census for research with groups. Her research interests are the economic and social history of the C18th and C19th.  For the latter, the census can be a very useful resource.