Mr.John Donaldson, a respected member of the Society, died in hospital in December, 1992. He had spent the years of his retirement showing an interest in many local organisations: his interest in local history manifested itself in detailed research of any subject he examined and during his short membership of ADLHS he produced several Occasional Papers and articles. At the time of his death, John had copied the 1891 census returns for Alcester, Arrow, Oversley and Great Alne parishes, a task which occupied many hours in front of the reader at Alcester Library. He was, in fact, the only one to respond positively to the Editor's appeal for help in transcribing the 1891 census returns. As well as copying out the 1891 returns, John did a little investigation into their contents and from his notes we have compiled the following article, which will be expanded in the next (Summer 1993) issue.
A Census, an official enumeration of the inhabitants, has been carried out for England and Wales, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941 -- except that from 1841 individual names have been included. Since 1841 the information has included name, sex, marital status, place of birth and occupation of every-one in the house, with their relationship to the head of the household.
The main purpose is to aid Government and local Government planning: censuses ,also ,are among the best known sources for genealogical research and a mine of information about Victorian communities. The official census returns are at the Public Record Office in London, as well as on micro-film there. To preserve confidentiality, publication; is not available for 100 years. Therefore, the 1891 census is the last one published. In
1992 Alcester Library obtained a copy for Alcester and surrounding parishes -- but only on micro-fiche. This is harder to read than micro-film and was made worse by the illegibility of some of the original handwriting; and further worsened by heavy cross-ticking through the age column, presumably for tabulation purposes by statistics officials. Despite these difficulties, the micro-fiche has been transcribed for the Society. It will be appreciated that this was a mammoth task, even for the few parishes completed. Stratford Library has a micro-fiche of the 1891 census for all the parishes of Warwickshire.
In the tables which follow, these points need to be noted:--
a) visitors and school boarders are omitted from the analysis
b) in a later table (Summer 1993 'Local Past') the area covered is the immediate Alcester one, viz. Alcester itself and its constituent parts (King's Coughton, Alcester Heath, Arrow, Oversley (which includes the Workhouse) and Kinwarton (this last transcribed by Editor)
Some notes: Christian names have not been analysed, as they were in previous Occasional Papers on earlier census. For females Emma, Elizabeth and Sarah seemed predominant; but for males, none stood out.
The vast majority of the population was born locally or in the neighbouring villages. However, railway men, engineers, shepherds and some servants were born elsewhere. All were born in England, with the exception of 9 in Ireland, 5 in Wales, 4 in Scotland, 3 in America and one in Canada.
|Houses and Tenements|
|Housing Units||Uninhabited||Less than 5 rooms||M||F||Total|
The population of Alcester, excluding Arrow, Oversley and Kinwarton in 1891 was 2406, an increase of 42 over 1881 but only 7 above the population in 1841 -- there was a decline between 1841 and 1861. The recovery in numbers may be a partial result of the coming of the railways.
It will be seen that females outnumber males in all parishes save Oversley.
The term 'housing unit' has been used, as in some cases a house is divided into two or more dwellings. The number of housing units in Alcester was 554, compared with 531 in 1881. The average of 4.63 residents per housing unit compares with 4.45 in 1881.
The Workhouse had a staff of 6 plus the Master's son and 118 inmates (72 males and 46 females)
Spring 1993 Index