The first census in 1801 simply divided people into those employed in agriculture and
those in trade or manufacturing, and the 1841 census, the first to gather detailed
occupational data, imposed no real order on it at all.
However, the first occupational classification, introduced in 1851, was clearly
concerned with social status as well as with what people made: it began with the Queen,
followed by government officials and then by 'the learned professions'.
In the twentieth century a separate system of social classes was devised. Originally created to help understand mortality, the Registrar General's Social Classification was tabulated by the census from 1951 onwards. To provide a longer perspective we have re-organised earlier occupational information to the same system. Like the published 1951 data, all our figures are limited to men.
This is only possible where we have very detailed occupational statistics at district-level, so these earlier censuses are limited to 1841, where the replies to the occupational question were tabulated almost raw; 1881, where we can use complete data from the enumerator's books; and 1931, which produced the most detailed of all occupational reports. The 2001 data are based on a rather different system, so comparisons over time are tricky.
Our detailed statistics are held in structures called nCubes, which you can think of as tables with one dimension, or with two ... or with twenty. Their dimensions are defined by the variables each nCube combines, and each variable is made up of categories. These nCubes are available at national level for this theme:
|Available nCubes||Period covered||Variables
(number of categories)
|Social Status, based on 1831 occupational statistics||1831||
1831 Occupations grouped by Status