Local history articles
It is difficult to assess the size of Wymeswold before 1801 as the only returns of those for various taxes and ecclesiastical purposes which seem to give the number of households or heads of households. In the Domesday Book 39 men of various ranks are mentioned so a population of under 200 may be assumed. The Poll Tax of 1377 showed 250 taxpayers who were presumably adults so 400 to 500 might be a reasonable estimate for the total population. By 1670 the Hearth Tax Returns give 96 households so the population was probably about 500.
The first census in 1801 have the total population for Wymeswold as 782 in 260 households. This was a period of fairly rapid growth for by 1831 the total had reached 1,276, which was the largest that Wymeswold has ever been. This growth has been attributed to the development of the lace and framework knitting industries, presumably attracting families from remote villages, although improving medicine and diet as part of the Industrial Revolution must have played a part. Until these industries started in Wymeswold the population must be largely dependent on agriculture with various craftsmen like blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, cordwainers and dressmakers which were a necessary part of village life then.
The 1851 census shows that 50% of the total population worked in agriculture but if their families and dependants are included 32% of the village relied directly on agriculture. The table below shows the importance of the main occupation groups from this census.
From then on the population increased fairly steadily due, in part, to migration to large industrial centres. The 1881 census total was 936 and the decline continued until 1931 when the population was only 755. The expansion of work in big towns coupled with improvement of facilities and amenities and the growth of suburban housing attracted people away from villagers such as Wymeswold.
Originally published in A Portrait of Wymeswold 1991.
Copyright Wolds Historical Organisation.