Bulletin 380

March, 2014

Population Movement During the Late Industrial Age

by Dr. David Maund

The Victorian period in history has acquired an almost Dickensian reputation for grime and over crowded towns, surrounded by almost deserted countryside, afflicted by various agricultural disasters, compounded by the increased import of food staples from abroad to supply cheaper food for the millworkers etc.

It is helpful to actually study the period, and one particular area in detail, using the Census returns for the time, which latterly included much more useful information about the origin and status of those listed, and successive entries can be used to follow relocation, and changes in households.

Dr. Maund is ideally suited to the task in respect of an area of Herefordshire occupied at the time by his family, and family researches can scan areas further afield for follow up.  Maund (from MAGEN, from MAGON SAETE) is easily the oldest family name in the County, with its pre Roman origins.

The area studied in North Herefordshire surrounds Little Hereford – the focus, with 17 parishes included, all within striking distance of the market towns of Ludlow, Tenbury Wells and Leominster.  It is prime agricultural land and many compact farms, with small adaptable fields and abundant pasture.  With the advent of railways – access to Shrewsbury – thence Lancashire, Hereford – thence South Wales, and later Bewdley – thence Birmingham, provided ample stimulus for travel further afield.

One important condition in this area was the fact that most of the area studied was under a single landlord, which makes a huge difference in maintaining agricultural stability.

The Census returns for 1841, when analysed, show that the population of England was split 50% in towns and 50% in the countryside.  Subsequent returns show that with an increasing population, 80% of people were living in towns by 1901, with a combined total more than double that of 1841.  The returns also show a slow decline in numbers per cent in the countryside.  Therefore, were people from this area taking off in droves for the nearest big conurbation in search of new better paid jobs?  Research showed that using 1871 and 1881 reports, that from this area of 17 parishes, more than 600 families changed addresses in this period.

So, where did they go?  Well, they moved almost next door – the vast majority relocated less than 10 miles away – some moved to a market town because of their expanding job opportunities, and a minuscule number, mainly youngsters, went to an industrial centre (Clee Hill held few attractions for them in spite of being next door).  However the total numbers held up, so from where did ‘incomers’ originate?  The figures show that 70% of them, mainly whole families, moved from nearer than 20 miles away.

Of the total, 15% had moved to the country from a town.  There were obviously plenty of job opportunities locally, and the total number on poor relief in this period was less than 70, in a population of 8,000.  Can this be explained?

Well, the landlord certainly wouldn’t have any of his farms vacant, and would make sure the tenants were found from wherever, with rentals and conditions adjusted as necessary.  In addition, with the change in dietary habits in the burgeoning towns and cities of the Midlands, now closer by rail, the demand for fresh food, milk and vegetables (perishables) could ideally be met by Herefordshire, and that is what occurred, as local farming practice adapted to the new conditions.

The Population of the area showed a slow decline from 1881 on, probably due to increased mechanisation, and the ability of local workers to travel further to their jobs.

So Herefordshire escaped the depopulation of other areas not that far away, but the serenity of the countryside began to attract visitors from elsewhere, many of whom now settle here. Review by JR.

The Enigma Machine and the role it played in the Battle for the Atlantic

Dr Mark Baldwin will present a talk at Kington Primary School 7:30pm Friday 21st March 2014

One of the Second World War’s most fascinating stories is that of the Enigma cipher machine, widely adopted by the Germans to provide secure communications. Nevertheless, the Allies devised techniques for ‘breaking’ Enigma ciphers, and thus read several million German messages, providing invaluable intelligence. Internationally renowned, Dr Baldwin is one of Britain’s leading speakers on the Enigma machine and WW2 code-breaking. After the presentation, the audience are invited to take part in a hands-on practical demonstration of one of the few surviving Enigma machines. As these are so rare, Dr Baldwin is providing a unusual opportunity for the audience not just to view, but also to operate, an original WW2 Enigma machine. Mark Wheatland.

Remember that items for the Annual Papers are requested for inclusion this Autumn.

Friday 18th April. Michael Harrison. A Few Swords and some Local History.