high littleton holy trinity church

High Littleton & Hallatrow
History and Parish Records



Following the passing of the Census Act in 1800, an almost unbroken sequence of head counts in Britain began with the first national census on 10th March 1801. The one break in the sequence occurred in 1941, when no census was taken because of the War.


Details of each census from 1811 to 1901 have been faithfully transcribed, including descriptions of the enumeration districts and summary of statistics. Obvious errors have been highlighted. At the end of each census there is an index showing names, ages and reference numbers on the schedule.

HL Early Censuses 1811-31 & Index.pdf
HL 1841 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1851 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1861 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1871 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1881 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1891 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1901 Census & Index.pdf

The 1801 census was undertaken through house to house enquiry by the parish Overseers of the Poor, who had to provide answers to three main questions:

1. How many inhabited and uninhabited houses and by how many families occupied?
2. How many males and females?
3. How many employed in (a) Agriculture (b) Trade, Manufacture & Handicraft and (c) Neither? In larger parishes information gathering took more than one day.

The details, which did not include names or addresses, were entered onto a prescribed schedule, attested before a Justice of the Peace and then forwarded to Mr. John RICKMAN in London. RICKMAN was formerly a clerk in the House of Commons and had been involved in the preparation of the Census Bill. He was given the responsibility by His Majesty’s Privy Council for collating all the census schedules sent to him. It took nearly 9 months to arrive at the Official Population of England & Wales, which in 1801 was about 8.34 million.

RICKMAN died in 1840, having played a large part in the first four censuses. In the same year, the Population Act was passed, which gave responsibility for future censuses to the Registrar General and set the pattern for modern censuses.

In 1904 the schedules for the first four censuses, which all followed a similar pattern to the 1801 one, were destroyed, when it was decided that they were of no historic value and took up too much room. All that remains now are the population figures.

Fortunately for local historians some parishes made copies of their schedules before despatching them. For Somerset, a mere handful of such copies exist, but thanks to the Overseers, Dr Peter Edward SCOBELL and Richard BROOKE, a full copy of the 1811 schedule for High Littleton and Hallatrow was entered in the back of the Overseers Account Book. In 1821, a copy was made of the individual column totals, but without any names.

The 1841 Census was taken on Monday 7th June.
This was the first of the censuses to be organised by the Registrar General and aimed to list the entire population by name. Being taken in June, it is likely that a number of persons were not counted as they moved around the country in search of seasonal work. Similarly no special arrangements were made to cater for persons who were on night work or otherwise out of their homes temporarily on the night of the census. The information requested was very simple and consisted of:

Place of abode - often no more than the name of the village or hamlet was given.

Number of houses inhabited, uninhabited and being built.

Name, age and sex of each person in the household. Up to the age of 15 years, ages were required to be recorded exactly, from 15 to 19 as 15, 20 to 24 as 20, 25 to 29 as 25 and so on. Notwithstanding this instruction many people gave their actual age.

Profession, Trade, Employment or of Independent Means. Enumerators were instructed to write J. for Journeyman, Ap. for Apprentice and Sh. for Shopman after a person’s trade. It was unnecessary to insert the word Master, as everyone not described as a Journeyman or Apprentice was deemed to be a Master. Other abbreviations used were MS and FS for male and female servant, Ag. Lab. for agricultural labourer, Ind. for independent means and Annt. for annuitant.

Where born. The information was required in the form of Yes or No to the question “whether born in the same county”. If one was born in Scotland, Ireland or Foreign Parts, the letters S, I or F had to be added as appropriate. In some cases the county of birth was gratuitously recorded, instead of “No” - contrary to instructions.

The 1851 Census was taken on Sunday 30th March.
The information provided was far more detailed than in 1841 and therefore of much greater benefit to researchers. In particular:

Schedules were listed in walking order, making it relatively easy to identify the whereabouts of a particular property.

The name or number of each house and street name was required to be given, although in a rural district few houses had names, numbers were generally non-existent and street names unofficial.

As before, houses inhabited, uninhabited and being built had to be identified separately.

Schedules were required to be completed by the head of each household. However, in the absence of clear instructions, lodgers and servants who lived in were sometimes recorded as separate households and other times as part of the main family’s household.

Relationship to the head of the household was shown for the first time, as was the marital condition of each person of marriageable age.

Exact ages in years (or days, weeks, months as appropriate, for children under 1 year) were required to be shown. However, the person completing the Schedule was not always accurate and often guessed the ages of members of the household.

Profession, Trade, Employment” replaced “Rank, Profession or Occupation” and employers were instructed to show additional details, such as number of hands employed and acreage farmed. A farmer’s family who worked on the farm were to be described merely as Farmer’s wife, Farmer’s daughter or son etc.

Where born” called for the name of the parish of birth and county, rather than a mere Yes or No to the question “Whether born in the same county”. However, here again, the person completing the Schedule sometimes did not check what he answered on behalf of others.

Persons who were Blind or Deaf or Dumb had to be identified as such on the Schedule.

The 1861 Census was taken on Sunday 8th April.
The information provided differed in one minor respect from 1851 in that Imbeciles or Idiots and Lunatics had to be identified as such on the Schedule.

Guidance was given to Enumerators as to what constituted a household. Thus, a household might consist of parents, children, live-in servants, visitors and boarders at the same table, but a lodger alone or lodgers who boarded together constituted a separate household, although, ironically, the head of the latter household would still be described as Lodger, rather than Head, on the Schedule.

The 1871 Census was taken on Sunday 2nd April and followed the pattern of the 1861 one.

The 1881 Census was taken on Sunday 3rd April and followed the same pattern as 1861 and 1871.

The 1891 Census was taken on Sunday 5th April.
It included two new sections, viz:

Number of rooms occupied, if less than 5, was required to be shown. This gave rise to a certain amount of inaccuracy, as no definition of room was provided and the question as to whether sculleries, washrooms, pantries, attics etc. should be included was open to different interpretations.

The Occupation section on the Schedule required persons to be identified as either Employer, Employed or neither employer nor employed, but working on own account. An Employer was defined as a master employing in his own trade workers under him. A married woman who assisted her husband in his trade was treated as Employed. The results thrown up by these new occupation requirements were regarded officially as untrustworthy. Some persons omitted to complete the section, some (possibly quite correctly) claimed to be in more than one category and others appeared from their declared occupations to have put a cross in the wrong column. Sadly, the new requirements led to the abandonment of the previous instructions to provide such additional information as numbers employed and acreage farmed.

A further attempt was made to define a household and ease the continuing difficulties in interpretation. The rather ambiguous term “lodger” was dropped and an occupier (householder) was described as a resident owner or a person who pays rent for a whole house or for a tenement consisting of one or more rooms. This description only caused more difficulties in answering the question as to number of rooms, in that a resident owner was uncertain whether to include the rooms occupied by his lodger, who was counted as a separate household. 

The 1901 Census was taken on Sunday 31st March 1901.
The questions asked did not differ materially from those of 1891. There was a small refinement in the employment questions, where instead of answering whether one was Employer, Employee or Neither, the 1901 Census required one to state whether Employer, Worker or Working on Own Account and if one worked at home.

In the infirmities section the word Idiot was replaced by the more politically correct Feeble-minded.

The parish of High Littleton was enumerated in two districts until 1901, when Charles BODY of Church Farm, a 21 year old colliery clerk, enumerated the whole parish himself.

1841   John DUDDEN & James WEEKS
1851   Isaac COWEN & John SPERRING
1861   Thomas MELHUISH & Isaac COWEN
1871   Thomas MELHUISH & George Emmanuel COWEN
1881   Herbert H.F. CROSS & George Emmanuel COWEN
1891   Miss Myra MELHUISH & George Emmanuel COWEN
1901   Charles BODY

Official Population of High Littleton and Hallatrow, compared with England & Wales 1801-1951
The population of High Littleton and Hallatrow peaked in 1841 at approximately 1,100 and that level was not reached again for over a hundred years. Coalmining was by far the largest single occupation throughout the nineteenth century.

In 1851 no less than 60% of the population living in the parish were born there. This percentage reduced in every successive census, reflecting the general migration from rural parishes to the larger towns and cities. Today the number of parishioners actually born in the parish is very small. This migration can be clearly demonstrated by comparing the relatively static population of High Littleton with England and Wales as a whole.

High Littleton & Hallatrow

England & Wales

1801    811

1801    8.3m

1811    804* (should be 791)

1811    10.2m

1821    864

1821    12.0m

1831    911

1831    13.8m

1841  1,112* (should be 1,098)

1841    15.9m

1851    951

1851    18.0m

1861    860

1861    20.0m

1871    740

1871    22.7m

1881    775

1881    26.0m

1891    798

1891    29.0m

1901    812

1901    32.5m

1911  1,008

1911    36.1m

1921    997

1921    37.9m

1931    866

1931    40.0m

1941 No census

1941    No census

1951  1,104

1951    43.8m

*overstated by duplication of entries

Boundary changes in 1956 resulted in High Littleton losing 222 acres (1951 population 41) to Farmborough and Paulton but gaining 47 acres (1951 population 264) from Clutton and Farmborough. The net increase in population on 1951 figures (Greyfield, Scumbrum and New Road accounting for the majority), was therefore 223. Thus one should compare the 1961 population with an adjusted 1951 population of 1,327.

1961  1,403
1971  1,508
1981  1,675