The census story – 2 – organisation in Brimington

This blog is the second in an occasional series looking at the census. This time we look at how collection of the census data was organised, using Brimington as an example. We’ll also take a brief look at who the people were collecting the data locally.

The General Register Office organised the censuses by civil registration districts, which were subdivided into enumeration districts (EDs). The only exception was the 1841 census which was arranged by the old hundreds (administrative subdivisions of land), Brimington being included in the Scarsdale hundred. As shown later, in other years the civil parish of Brimington was sub-divided into two or three EDs.

For each ED a sheet headed ‘Description of the Enumeration District’ was bound into its enumeration book. This contained a detailed description of the streets covered. From 1861 this description was written out by and signed by the enumerator for the district. Instructions to the enumerator appeared at the head of the sheet.

This description is to be written in by the Enumerator from the Copy supplied to him by the Registrar. Any explanatory notes or observations calculated to make the description clearer, or more complete, may be added by the Enumerator.

Who were the census enumerators in Brimington?

High Street, August 2009. The former village post office is to the left – now the aptly named Post House Nursery. From here sub-postmaster Henry Jephson would have carried out his census enumerators duties in 1911.
A short distance away, back up the road on the corner of High Street and Church Street, in 1881 and 1891, post master John Hazard would have undertaken the same duties as Jephson. The corner house in this 2012 view was the predecessor to the High Street premises shown above. Even into the 1970s this house was a shop. In the late 19th century and early 20th century the area was known as ‘Post Office Square’. The former 1840 National School once stood to the far right of the corner house. It was here that Henry Turton, one of the 1861 and 1871 enumerators, was school master.

The census of 1861 was the first in which the descriptive sheet for each ED was signed by the enumerator. This has allowed the following table to be compiled, showing the enumerator for each ED in Brimington from 1861 to 1911. Their occupations and addresses have been added as they were recorded in the corresponding census (except for John Lingard, whose address had only been recorded as Church Street). An address marked § indicates that it was within the ED of its enumerator. There’s no impropriety implied in such cases, as the head of household always had to complete the census form regardless of who actually delivered it.

As can be seen, all enumerators except John Lingard (farmer) and Herbert Kerslake (butcher) were in ‘white-collar’ jobs. John Lingard (1818-1904) must have been reasonably well-educated as he was more of a gentleman farmer than a son of the soil, having held many public offices in the village including chairmanship of the Brimington School Board and parish representative on the Chesterfield Board of Guardians.

(This series of blogs on the census will form a much longer illustrated article in the 2022 Brimington and Tapton Miscellany 14, by Paul Freeman. Our thanks to Paul for researching the information in this blog).

The previous blog The census story – 1introduction was published on 31 March 2021 and can be found here.

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