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Pettaugh in 1911 and 2011

The 1911 Census

The 1911 census for England and Wales was taken on the night of Sunday 2 April, 1911 -- in every city, town and village, including Pettaugh.  It was the first census to be completed by the householder who had to provide names, ages and occupations of the inhabitants, plus the length of marriage, the number of children of that marriage, how many of those children were still living and how many had died.  

The number of children who had died in Pettaugh was a shock to me.  In Victorian times mortality had been high, but rates went into decline from 1870 - the one exception was infant mortality, which remained stubbornly high. The 1911 census provided a statistical understanding of this problem.  A commentator observes, "You start to get massive resources ploughed into infant and child welfare. The infant mortality rates start to decline. A lot of it is health visitors improving nutrition - milk depots where mothers can go and get free milk."  More about child deaths below.

The 2011 Census

The 2011 Census took place on 27th March 2011, but because  census data is only available to the general public after 100 years has passed, the 1911 census data is the most recent data we are allowed to access.  In order to compare 2011 with 1911, and assess the changes in Pettaugh, I have had to carry out a 'back of a fag packet' census, and have used eyes and ears to assess the population -- basically I have counted the number of adults and children under 18 in each household. This has enabled me to compare Pettaugh's population in 1911 with today's residents.

Pettaugh in 1911 Vs 2011

Firstly, some basic data from the 1911 census that is easily compared with 2011:

        1911           2011      
Households                 46          85
Persons         186      >200
Persons per Household             4         2.4
Most common surname    Page  x31    Davies  x8
Most common first name         William  x12    Andrew  x6

Now for the more difficult bit! There is data on the 1911 census forms that I won’t be able to assess for 2011, (without interviewing every householder, which is never going to happen!), such as live births and deaths, number of habitable rooms, occupations, and place of birth, but one can make a guess at:

  • possibly no deaths of children born alive in recent decades; at the time of the 1911 census there had been 26 deaths (17% of the live births)  of children born to women living in Pettaugh.
  • probably the current residents of Pettaugh were born in all regions of the country — and abroad, and possibly none were born in Pettaugh; in the 1911 census only 6 were born outside Suffolk (5 of them were the Rector and his family), and of those born in Suffolk, 60% were born in Pettaugh.
  • probably none (or perhaps only one or two) of the current residents of Pettaugh work in farming; in 1911 almost everyone worked on the land, with a few working in the mill, the pub, the forge and the shop.
  • possibly a handful of the current residents of Pettaugh work at home or very nearby; the rest commute daily to local towns and as far away as London; in 1911 almost everyone worked in Pettaugh or on the local farms -- within walking distance of home -- and no-one commuted.
  • in 1911 5 or 6 young girls worked as domestic servants in the farm houses — 2 were 14 and 1 was 15 — today full-time schooling is compulsory until 16 and probably most children will continue secondary and tertiary education beyond age 16
  • in 1911 there were 32 households with 4 habitable rooms (or fewer); one cottage with 3 rooms had 8 persons living there; in 2011 a significant number of houses were built in recent decades and have more rooms and fewer occupants; with the constant upgrading of our homes, our constantly available hot and cold running water, electricity, modern bathrooms and kitchens, central heating, TV, broadband internet, etc, we have difficulty comparing our homes and comforts with the Pettaugh homes of 100 years ago
  • today there are quite a few pensioners in Pettaugh, receiving government and occupational pensions and able to keep busy with gardening, DIY and other hobbies, and to live fairly comfortably in their 60s, 70s and 80s, with cars, foreign holidays, etc.; in 1911 there were 9 residents aged 70 or over, and it is unlikely that any of them had ever been on a foreign holiday, owned a car, or even had much to live on …

Other analysis will follow ...


The 1911 Census in detail

Every householder had to complete a census form (just one page, compared with more than 30 pages in the 2011 census!); this is what it looked like:

The section cut out on the bottom right hand corner of the return was the answer to the question: "If any person included in this schedule is: 1) "Totally deaf" or "deaf and dumb", 2) "totally blind", 3) "lunatic", 4) "imbecile" or "feeble-minded", state the infirmity opposite that person's name, and the age at which he or she became inflicted." This was considered too sensitive to release to the genral public, and was cut out!

Of course, some people would have been wary about people coming into their homes asking about child deaths and marital status. That was quite a sensitive issue. Even asking people how long they had been married was a bit contentious. They may have had children conceived before they married. There was a bit of a trend for people to live as if they were Mr and Mrs but they hadn't taken the formal step. Working-class men were the group most wary of snooping intruders, says Dr Strange. There would have been a degree of suspicion. You have very well-spoken people coming to your house and trying to found out things about you.

But a strength of the 1911 census was that it was the first to be filled in by householders rather than by enumerators. Being able to see an ancestor's actual handwriting is often as pleasing as the information garnered!

Although it was the first census to be completed by the householder,  there was an enumerator who checked the forms and entered data onto a summary -- this what his summary for Pettaugh looked like:

For more information, go to:  

1911 Census Data

The enumerator's summary for the whole of Pettaugh (a copy of the original document):  
1911 Census Enumerator's  Summary - original

A Farmer's Family - The Census Form fiilled in by George Edmund Cutting, Farmer, of The Grove  (a copy of the original document, in George Cutting's handwriting)  
Cutting, The Grove - original

Pettaugh in 1911 - A spreadsheet created in 2011 from all the original 1911 census sheets, showing each of the 46 households in Pettaugh:  
Detail by household - transcription

The Page families -- a  spreadsheet created in 2011, showing the 31 people living in 8 households in Pettaugh with the surname 'Page':  
The Pages

Some Pages long since gone -- Photos of some of the gravestones of members of the Page families:  Page Graves

Others long since gone  -- Photos of some of the gravestones of members of other Pettaugh families: Pettaugh Graves

2011 Census Data

Pettaugh in 2011 -- The 2011 Census data won't be published until 2111 -- nearly 100 year's time!  But in order to

to be added ...  

Source of 1911 census data:  1911 census online:  http://www.1911census.co.uk/  

Analysis and transcription by:  Howard Dimmock

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