Stoke St Gregory Census
Many thanks to Gareth Mellors for transcribing and putting together the information on the 1901 Census for Stoke.
The census recorded households as they were on the evening of Sunday 31 March 1901. The village and its surrounding area was divided into three Enumeration Districts, numbered 11, 12 and 13, which were allocated to one of three enumerators: George Mitchem (District 11), Ernest Pullen, the village’s school headmaster (District 12) and Richard Mitchem (District 13).
George Mitchem was born in Stoke and, at the time of the census, was aged 61. His son, Richard, was 25. Both lived at Knapp Farm in North Curry. (Aside from being a farmer, the census lists George as “Expenditor to the Drainage Board”, which administrative role probably served him well in collating the considerable volume of paperwork which the census entailed). The forms were delivered to each household a few days before, then collected by the enumerators, who then went through them making notes in the margins if they could see obvious errors.
Given the prevailing rate of literacy, and the relatively high number of children attending the village school, it is likely that many of the forms were completed by younger members of the households.
The full Census Data can be found HERE, and notes on how to use the speadshheet appear at the bottom of this page.
In the ten previous years the population of the Taunton District had grown significantly, but there had been a decline in population (continuing from the 1881 census figures) in the surrounding villages. The two exceptions were Creech St Michael and Stoke St Gregory, which showed increases in population. In Creech this was put down to the successful paper mills. In the case of Stoke it was suggested that the cause was the land ownership model. The majority of farmland was now owned and worked by small farmers and smallholders, often with a combination of agricultural labouring with working a small plot of land. On large estates workers tended to drift to the towns where wages were higher, whereas in Stoke people were more committed to the local land.
How ‘young’ the village’s population was in 1901, with 46% of residents aged under 20 years of age. An amazing 65% of the village’s population in 1901 had been born here. Although some rather more exotic places, such as Australia and America, also feature in the list, the vast majority of residents were born either in Stoke or one of the surrounding parishes. Looking at the register of marriages for the previous 20 years, it is apparent that those who had not been born in Stoke were children of parents who had moved to the village as a couple.
Boobyer (85) and Hembrow (82) were the most common surnames. William and Mary were the most common given names. The six most common boys' names - William, Charles, John, George, Henry & James - accounted for more than 40% of the male population of the village.
As can be seen, several rather unusual names were also recorded, including ‘Jubileena’, doubtless given in honour of Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1887.
Herbert Victoria POCOCK
Perhaps unsurprisingly, agricultural labour was the primary category of employment, although, as mentioned previously, the census returns hide the fact that many classified as labourers also tended small plots of land, growing vegetables, willow and keeping a few animals and fowls. The withy industry was also major sources of income for local families, with 56 boys and men listed as basket/chair makers and almost 60 women occupied as withy whiteners or withy strippers. The extra income of part time withy stripping (before the withy stripping machine had been invented) meant that many families could afford to buy decent food and clothing denied to villagers in other rural parts of the county.
Given the lower mobility of goods and consumers, most of the key trades are represented in the local population (e.g. bakers, plumbers, masons, blacksmiths, carpenters). Reliance on horse-drawn transport also meant that the village could support six blacksmiths and four wheelwrights. There were also twenty carters in the village. There were only three people listed as shopkeepers, as the concept of the 'village shop' was still relatively new. There were others, however who sold various goods from their homes.
THE CENSUS DATA
The spreadsheet (in Microsoft Excel format) is arranged in several ‘worksheets’, each one being accessible using the coloured ‘tabs’ towards the bottom of the screen.
The first tab is simply an electronic copy of the original census return itself, arranged in the order in which the enumerators transcribed it.
Perhaps the most useful sheet (second tab) allows the original census data to be sorted in a variety of different ways, for example by listing every resident of the village in alphabetical order. When viewing this sheet, simply select the ‘data’ menu on the toolbar and then select ‘sort’. When the ‘sort’ menu appears, click the headings to determine in which order you would like the data arranged. For example, if you would like to sort the data by names and ages, select ‘data’, ‘sort’ and then pick ‘sort by’ [column E - surname], ‘then by’ [column F – first Christian name] ‘then by’ [column M - age].
District details: In their own words, these are the textual descriptions of the routes taken by the enumerators when collecting the Household Schedules. Another entry describes the boundaries of each of the three Enumeration Districts which comprise the Stoke St Gregory parish returns.
The remaining tabs are self explanatory.