Local history articles
Wymeswold census 1901
After the usual period of one hundred years for confidentiality, the information on the 1901 census returns has been published. It is on microfiche and I have transcribed the details for Wymeswold. The enumerator was Henry Dawson and 1901 was the first occasion that the census for the whole village was carried out by one person. Previously two enumerators had been needed as the village was much larger.
As might be expected, these returns give a picture of the village which can be compared with that of earlier censuses. The decline in population from 1223 in 1851 had continued and by 1901 had fallen to 770. This sort of decline was common in rural areas throughout the country, with migration to towns where industry was expanding and living conditions were somewhat better. Throughout the century men were less numerous than women with about 47% of the 1901 population being men compared with 49% in 1851. The other important feature is the greater age to which people were living by 1901. In 1901 the proportion of the population over 65 years was about 11% whilst in 1881 it was only 0.1%.
The oldest person in Wymeswold was Frances Beasley of Wymeswold Hall who was 95. She was a spinster of independent means and came from a family who lived at Melton Mowbray and Bourne in Lincolnshire. With her were four nieces, all aged over 59. An interesting household! Frances Beasley died in 1903. She had been at the Hall since 1871 and her nieces continued there until about 1910. Elizabeth Bennett was 91. She lived in Church Street with her son-in-law, a miller and grazier, and his family. Ninety-year-old George Marshall was at the opposite end of the social scale and was supported by parish relief. Five other men and eight women over 64 were supported by parish relief (the remaining recipient was 17 year old Fanny Frearson who had been blind from birth).
The youngest children in the village were George Collington, aged one month, son of Fred and Louisa Collington of Fox Yard, Brook Street, and Herbert Wood, two months, the son of John and Lizzie Wood, bakers in Far Street. Next came Florence Collington, aged 1½, the daughter of John and Rebecca in Brook Street and two-year-old Hilda Alice, aged 2, the daughter of Charles Morris at the north end of London Lane. Some of the present inhabitants of Wymeswold may remember these and other young people listed in the 1901 census.
Occupations in the village were still dominated by agriculture, with 21 farmers and 20 graziers, along with some 50 agricultural labourers. One sign of progress is that four men described themselves as 'agricultural engine drivers' and another that five were 'labourers at the Falcon Works', now known as The Brush. It would be interesting to know how they got to work. Did they walk, or did the carrier take them? Of course, they could have cycled – there was also a 'cycle agent' in the village. He was William Ironman and lived in Brook Street. The usual village crafts continued, there were hosiery workers and framework knitters, boot and shoe makers, and a wheelwright. Brickmaking and bricklaying seems to have been a bit more common than previously, though there is no indication where the kilns were located.
This census differs from earlier ones in that few married women are shown as having jobs. Farmers etc were described as 'employers' and as 'on their own account', those employed being shown as 'workers'. There were 35 servants who were 'living in', most of these were farm workers with only a dozen or so being 'domestic'. A few older daughters were listed as 'mother's assistant'.
Originally published in the WHO Newsletter 2002.
Copyright the author.