Although local informal censuses were taken in particular parishes there do not appear to be any such lists for Weeke. A Bill for a national census was put before Parliament in the UK in 1753. There were however fears that a census might incur the wrath of God because a census of the Israelites ordered by King David was followed by a plague which killed 70,000 people. Other opposition was a fear that the results would disclose to foreign enemies the weakness of the country or it would impair individual liberties. The result was the Bill was defeated and the scheme abandoned.
In 1800 a second Census Bill came before Parliament when there was a widespread concern that the growing population would outstrip the country’s ability to grow sufficient food. The bad harvest in 1800 ensured the bill was passed and the first national census took place on 10th March 1801(URL 16).
The census was then taken every ten years with the only gap being 1941 during the second World War. The early censuses for 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 were simply the number of people in each area including there sex and age group. These counts were normally undertaken by the Overseer of the poor and other leading members of the Parish. The 1841 census saw the introduction of a field force of Enumerators who were employed specifically to take the census. The 1841 census was also the first one to use self-completion forms in which were recorded the name of each person in a place on census night and some details about them. This approach of self-completion forms and Enumerators has been used in all censuses since. It is an amazing achievement that the 1841 census was successful because the majority of the population could not read and write (Herber, 2000 p57-63).
Subsequent censuses have added to the extra details requested but otherwise the basic approach has continued. The results of any census can be divided into two groups. Within a short time of taking the census the Government publish information concerning the summary data relating to the census. This includes population numbers in each area, sex of the population age groups etc but not the details of individuals including their name, occupation etc. This latter information is held for 100 years before it is available to the public. This ensures privacy of information since very few people will be still be alive when the detail is published (Hey, 1995 p72).
With the detail information released after 100 years it is possible to reconstruct areas. A problem with the statistical data published is that the areas used to define the data have inevitably changed over time. In the earlier censuses the areas defined were often exactly the ancient parish boundaries. Civil parishes were defined for various administration purposes including taking the census so there can be some variation between the ecclesiastical and civil parish boundaries. In the case of Weeke the earlier censuses were not a problem to define what was equivalent to the ecclesiastical boundary. With the incorporation of Weeke parish within the borough of Winchester the comparison has become more difficult. The Government statistics try to compare the two most recent censuses trying to modify the figures to reflect any change in boundaries. In the case of Weeke recent censuses are based on Wards of Winchester that are difficult to accurately compare to the historic parish. A reasonable approximation can be made and the figures for Weeke from 1801 to 2001 are included in population figures. It can be seen that Weeke in 1801 only had a population of 65 people and this has grown to 11,646 in 2001.
For the censuses since the Enumerators distributed forms (or schedules) to the head of each household. It was expected that the head of the household would complete the form by listing all the people in the household on census night. The Enumerator would then collect the completed forms. If the householder was illiterate or could not complete the form for some other reason then the Enumerator would complete the form by interviewing the householder when he collected the form. This obviously led to many errors because this recording would rely on the Enumerator’s ability to correctly interpret what the householder told him. The obvious problem was the name of an individual, since if the name was unfamiliar to the Enumerator then the resulting name recorded could be variable and sometimes difficult to compare to modern spelling for the name. The Enumerator may also have a major problem with the location that the person gave for the birth place of someone in the household. Many Enumerators may not have had sufficient knowledge of geography to correctly record place names or the correct county. People in charge of military barracks, prisons, hospitals, ships, workhouses or boarding schools had to complete lengthy schedules of all their inmates.
Once the completed forms were collected by the Enumerator they were transcribed into the books and completed tables to calculate the number of people in each enumeration district. The Enumerator’s books were kept and the householder’s forms were destroyed for the censuses from 1841 to 1901. As well as the problems the Enumerator had recording details where the Householder had not completed the form, there are inevitable transcription errors when the details were transferred to the Enumerator’s book. To further complicate the situation the Enumerator’s book is in manuscript and the handwriting can be difficult to read. After the book was completed various marks were added as counts etc were generated. Sometimes these additional marks can cover information that is then difficult to transcribe.
The Census Enumerator book pages relating to Weeke have been transcribed for all the censuses from 1841 to 1901. These censuses were undertaken on:-
The following information was requested for each census with various differences:
The Transcription of Weeke censuses have been based on the appropriate microfilmed enumerator’s books and the transcriptions use a standard table format. This has columns as follows:-
Each house is normally separated by marks on the Enumerator’s book by ‘//’ whereas if there are several householders they are separated by ‘/’. In the table horizontal double lines separate houses and a single horizontal line separates households in the same house. The census transcriptions are:-
Release 1.0 last update 11/12/07
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