Detailed occupational statistics for individual parishes in 1881 now on-line

We have just made a very large addition to the statistical content in A Vision of Britain through Time: detailed occupational structure data for each Civil Parish in England and Wales in 1881. However they are a little hard to find.

They have actually been in the underlying database for some months, and were the basis for summary data by occupational “Order”. The reason why they were not visible is that there are over four hundred different occupational categories, and our software for handling statistical “themes” is programmed to ignore data which cannot sensibly be graphed.

What we have now done is made the data accessible under the “Census Reports” option for each parish. You still cannot see a graph, but you do get a tabulation.

This is a bit of a cheat, as unlike all our other census data these numbers never appeared in a published census report. They were computed for us some years ago by the History Data Service at the University of Essex, from the individual-level data from the census Enumerators’ Books as computerised by an army of family historians coordinated by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Data for Scotland were not available.

However, it is not completely a cheat as, firstly, the data we are presenting for Registration Counties in our listing of table 10, “Occupations of Males and Females in the Division and its Registration Counties” from the 1881 report titled Tables: Ages, Condition as to Marriage, Occupations and Birthplaces of people are exactly what they say they are. For example, here are the data for Herefordshire:

However, if you go to the original report you will find that the only data for sub-county units in table 10 are for Urban Sanitary Districts with populations over 50,000. We have made it possible to drill down from the Registration Counties to Registration Districts, then to Registration sub-Districts and finally to Civil Parishes by using data from the Enumerators’ Books. Note that a great deal of work was done at Essex to group the roughly half million character strings defining occupations in the data supplied by the Genealogical Society of Utah into the 400-odd detailed categories used in the published table, so this is not much of a cheat at all. One limitation to the data we have added is that they exclude persons under 15 or over 65.

Although the data list “categories” not the actual occupations given by respondents, they are often very specific, such as “Toll Collector, Turnpike Gate Keeper” or “Painter, Glazier”. Here for example are the data for the parish of Selbourne, Hampshire:

Summarising, the way you reach these data is:

  • Search by place name from our home page.
  • Once you reach the relevant “place page”, click on “Units and statistics” in the sidebar on the left.
  • Select and click on a unit whose suffix includes “CP”, such as “AP/CP” or “Ch/CP” (meaning a unit that was originally a Chapelry). The data may also be available for units with status “RegD” or “SubD”.
  • From the unit’s home page, click on “Census Reports”, which should be the last option in the sidebar.
  • You then get a list of available tables in date order. For 1881, click on “10: Occupations of Males and Females in the Division and its Registration Counties”, and you should get the listing.

About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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2 Responses to Detailed occupational statistics for individual parishes in 1881 now on-line

  1. Peter Munro says:

    This would be a very interesting resource, if it were available for Scottish parishes.
    I’ve tried several Scottish parishes but I haven’t found any with occupational category for the 1881 census – are there any ?

    If there are some, could you provide a list, please ?

    If there are none, why didn’t you say so ?

    • Humphrey Southall says:

      Strictly speaking our post was accurate, as we define Scottish parishes, and Scottish administrative units generally, as different kinds of units from those in England and Wales, and we said the data were available for “Civil Parishes”. However, our announcement was unclear, and I apologise to anyone who was misled (that goes for anyone interested in Estonian or Swedish parishes as well as Scottish — they are all in there if you know where to look). I have now revised my post.

      The History Data Service were unable to supply us with Scottish data, and I think the problem back then was that they had still not received Scottish data from the Genealogical Society of Utah.

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