A census has been taken every ten years in Great Britain since
1801 but until 1841 these were of a statistical, impersonal style.
From 1841 they listed all the inhabitants by name, age, relationship
and place of birth. These have been a boon to genealogists.
A few years ago I was asked where 242, King Street was in 1841
but the numbers in that census (and later ones) were no street numbers
but the number given by the enumerator who filled in the forms.
By the 1891 census the enumerator distributed the forms checked
them on collection and in Northwich noted that he had had to fill
in 7% of them himself and fet people to sign their names byt this
had improved since the 1881 census: spellings could be puzzling,
such as : 'skouler' and 'cimic labrer'.
Another enumerator found at one house ' a plethora of unmarried
daughters and was offered one at which he snatched up his hat and
beat a hasty retreat!!'
The 1841 census in Knutsford listed 39 weavers but by 1861 there
were only 3. There were 43 agricultural labourers and a similar
number listed as labourers counted in 1841 became 284 in 1861. Many
of these were Irish itinerant labourers living in the market place,
one house had twelve.
Over the years some occupations disappear and others take their
place. Seventy year old Betty Read in 1841 was 'bleeder with leeches'
another was 'getter up of linen', the 'town's bell man' no longer
lives in the market place and gone are the 'well sinker', 'salt
dealer', 'smith's striker' and 'hair seating weaver'.
Never again will Knutsford need 37 white or blacksmiths to work
iron or tin, 63 brick makers or layers, 15 tanners and 8 cordwainers
(leather workers) and an untold number of shoemakers.
The density of population in some areas of the town is staggering.
Silk Mill Street in 1841 had 139 residents and 31 lived in the last
five houses in King Street, plus two back cottages at the Tatton
Park end, they included a tailor, slater, laundress, cotton weaver
and currier. By 1861 the Silk Mill Street population rose to 174!
Families were of course larger. James Roscoe, attorney-at-law lived
in the large Georgian house, and still a solicitors', with wife,
governess, nine children, three servants, as well as Thomas Dunver,
solicitor, his wife and child. John Gannon, builder lived on Manchester
Road, in 1841, with his wife and eight children. His name has just
disappeared from the town map with the demise of Gannon Square.
The old market place must have been a lively place then. It had
a pub called the Golden Lion and later a beer house as well, also
the market house and lock-up adjoining. Here the Irish population
of Knutsford (1861) congregated: they numbered 60 out of the 243
in the Market Place an 9% of Knutsford. Betty Boswell a seventy
year old charwoman boarded six Irishmen in 1841 but did not know
their names and Mikel Davey could not name his 18 lodgers.
Knutsford's population in 1841 was 3001 in 1861: 3275 in 1901:
5742, in 1951: 6617. in 1991: 13352 and today is ?? The workhouse
numbers doubled between 1841 and 1861.