A census of the population of England and Wales has been taken every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941. The 1841 census was the first to record the names of every individual. We have used it for our study because it allows us to associate many of the households with a property recorded on the tithe apportionment of a few years earlier.
The date on which the census was taken was 6 June. Only the names of individuals actually present in the house on that day were recorded. Each parish was in itself an enumeration district or in the case of large parishes, was divided into smaller districts, each of which was the responsibility of an enumerator. The enumerator delivered a form known as a schedule to each household a few days before census night, and collected the completed form the day after. The schedules were then sorted and copied into the enumerators books. It is those books that survive in The National Archives.
An address of sorts was shown for each household but house numbers were rarely given, and in rural areas frequently only the name of a village or hamlet is recorded. In Hamsey no house numbers were used, a few farms, notable houses or businesses were individually named eg. Great Hewen Street, Coombe Place, Hamsey Rectory and Brickyard House but the greater number of dwellings at Cooksbridge, Resting Oak Hill and Offham Street were only recorded under the names of those settlements.
The following information was collected for each individual:
Since so few properties were individually named it is difficult to say exactly who lived in which house. In addition to the information on houses and their inhabitants we can glean from the tithe data a person’s occupation can give a clue, for example John Howell, wheelwright, must have lived in the Wheelwrights Cottage at Cooksbridge and John Cheesman, brewer, obviously lived in the Old Brewery whilst Henry Henderson (who was himself the census enumerator) was publican at the Rainbow Inn.
But it still remains difficult to identify exactly who lived where, particularly in Offham. It is easy to follow the enumerators route from Offham Farm up the hill to Offham House but where did he go from there? What would seem an obvious route today may not have been the case in 1841 when properties may have had different entrances. We can safely say where certain people such as the publican, wheelwright, blacksmith, farmer and tollgate keeper lived but the majority of residents were agricultural labourers living in the estate cottages. Assigning them to a property has proved very difficult.
N.B. The census information attached to the tithe data pages of this website uses italics for uncertain identifications.
©2007 Sussex Archaeological Society