Number of the Population and Rates of Increase

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1.—England Wales

The total number of persons returned as living in England and Wales on the night of the third of April 1881, was 25,974,439.

This was an increase of 3,262,173, or of 14.36 per cent., upon the numbers living at the previous census of 1871, and was almost exactly equivalent to the addition of another London with all its inhabitants to the population.

The rate of increase was higher than in any decennium since 1831-41, when it was 14.52. In the two succeeding decades (1841-51 and 1851-61) the rate fell, first to 12.65 and then, to 11.93; but in 1861-71 the rate again rose to 13.19, and, as already noted, still further advanced to 14.36 in the decade ending in 1881. (see Appendix A, Table 2.)

Causes of the high rate of increase.

The rate of increase in the aggregate population of England and Wales is almost entirely determined by two factors, namely, the birth-rate and the death-rate; for, in comparison with these, emigration and immigration, have but an insignificant effect. The rapid growth of the past decennium was due to the fact that the birth-rate was unusually high, while the death-rate was still more unusually low. That is to say, the additions were somewhat above the average, while the losses were far below it.

Mean Annual
Mean Annual
1841-51 32.61 22.33
1851-61 34.15 22.25
1861-71 35.24 22.50
1871-81 35.35 21.27

The higher birth-rate in 1871-81, as compared with the preceding decade, implies the addition of 26,778 extra members to the community, while the lower death-rate implies the survival of 299,423 persons who with the previous rate of mortality would have died.

The natural increment

The difference between the total number of births and the total number of deaths in the ten years, or "the natural increment of the people," amounted to 3,426,480, or to an increase of 15.09 per cent., upon the population at the beginning of the period; and as the actual increase, as determined by enumeration, was 14.36 per cent., the combined effects of all other movements of the population, including emigration and immigration, resulted in a loss of no more than 0.73 per cent. in the whole period.

How closely the growth of the population is determined by the "natural increment," and in what small degree comparatively it is affected by other causes, is seen in the following table, which gives the population and the rate of increase for three successive decennial periods, as they would have been if determined simply by the natural increment, and as they were found actually to be on enumeration:—

Increase* per cent in
previous Decade.
Excess of
Rate over
As determined
by "Natural
Increment" only.
As actually
As determined
by "Natural
Increment" only.
As actually
1861 20,188,335 20,066,224 122,111 12.61 11.93 0.68 1861
1871 22,791,234 22,712,266 78,968 13.58 13.19 0.39 1871
1881 26,138,746 25,974,439 164,307 15.09 14.36 0.73 1881
The rates of increase in this table refer to the intervals between the several censuses, without correction for the very slight inequalities of the periods.

The slight excess of the "natural increment" population apparent at each period is due to emigration, or rather to the difference between, the number of emigrants and the number of immigrants, using these terms in a somewhat wide sense to embrace all additions and all losses other than by births and deaths.2 Neither the number of emigrants nor the number of immigrants can be told with more than vaguely approximative accuracy. The difference between the two, however, as shown in the above table, amounted in the past decade to 164,307, the balance, as in each of the two preceding decennia, being on the side of the emigrants.

Period in which the population doubles itself.

In the course of the last half century the population of England and Wales has increased 86.9 per cent. Supposing a similar rate of increase to be maintained, the population just enumerated would be doubled in the year 1936. Such a supposition, is, however, purely hypothetical, and we have scarcely more reason to assume that the rate of the last fifty years will be maintained for fifty-five years to come, than that a similar rate prevailed in former periods; and how far that was from being the case is shown by the fact that on such an hypothesis a single pair of persons living in the year A.D. 572 would have produced the whole of the present population of England and Wales.

Probable population in 1891.

The chances of great miscalculation are lessened if we confine our calculation to what will be the case at the next Decennial Census. What will be the population in 1891 we have no means of knowing; all we can do is to say what it will be on certain different hypotheses, one perhaps as probable as another. Thus if we assume that the rate of growth in the decade preceding the Census of 1891 will be the same as it was in the decade preceding the Census of 1881, the population that will be enumerated in 1891 will be 29,705,155. But the rate of increase has been rising in each decade since 1861, though in diminishing proportion. If we suppose that the series will be continued regularly in the decade ending in 1891, the population, at the date of the next census will be 29,988,993.

Again, seeing how little the population as actually enumerated differs usually from the population as determined by "natural increment," we may proceed on another plan. What has been the "natural increment" growth in the two years that have already elapsed since the Census of 1881? We learn from the Registrar-General's Reports that, in the two years 1881-82, it has been 2.942 per cent. If this rate be maintained, the population in 1891, as determined by natural increment, will be 30,026,290; and the actual population, on the supposition that the loss by emigration will have been in the same proportion as it was in the decade preceding 1881, will be 29,837,545. Lastly, as all these manners of guessing are practically on an. equality, we might take the mean of their results, which would give a probable population of 29,843,898 at the Census in 1891.

2. Counties

The increase of the population was by no means equably spread over the whole of the country. In 251 of the 630 districts, and in 985 of the 2,175 sub-districts, into which the country is divided for registration, purposes, there was an actual falling off in the number of inhabitants. Even when larger aggregates, such as counties, are taken, there are some in which the population declined, while in the remainder the rates of increase were excessively unequal. In the following list those counties in which the population increased are arranged in the order of their rates of increase:—


  Per cent   Per cent
Middlesex (extra-Metropolitan ) 43.8 Northamptonshire 11.6
Surrey (metropolitan ) 32.1 Middlesex (metropolitan ) 11.5
Glamorganshire 27.7 Carnarvonshire 11.1
Kent (metropolitan ) 26.5 Merionethshire 11.0
Durham 26.3 Berkshire 10.2
Surrey (extra-Metropolitan ) 26.2 Carmarthenshire 9.7
Essex 25.3 Hampshire 9.6
Nottinghamshire 23.4 Lincolnshire 8.2
Lancashire 22.3 Gloucestershire 7.4
Derbyshire 19.0 Denbighshire 7.4
Leicestershire 18.6 Monmouthshire 6.7
Yorkshire (W.R.) 18.5 Flintshire 5.2
Yorkshire (E.R.) 18.2 Hertfordshire 4.0
Yorkshire (N.R.) 17.7 Bedfordshire 1.8
Sussex 17.4 Suffolk 1.8
Warwickshire 15.9 Somersetshire 1.7
Cheshire 15.3 Norfolk 1.6
Staffordshire 14.8 Oxfordshire 1.2
Worcestershire 14.0 Wiltshire 1.0
Cumberland 13.8 Buckinghamshire 0.6
Kent (extra-Metropolitan ) 12.6 Devonshire 0.4
Northumberland 12.3 Anglesey 0.04

In each of the 13 remaining counties the population declined, the following list in the order of their rates of decrease.


  Per cent   Per cent
Cornwall 8.9 Dorsetshire 2.1
Huntingdonshire 8.3 Rutlandshire 1.6
Radnorshire 6.2 Westmorland 1.3
Brecknockshire 4.9 Cambridgeshire 0.5
Herefordshire 3.1 Shropshire 0.5
Cardiganshire 2.8 Pembrokeshire 0.2
Montgomeryshire 2.8    

3. Urban and Rural Districts.

The inhabitants of the country may be divided for practical purposes into an urban and a rural population. Such a division can, however, only be roughly approximative; in the first place, because the terms urban and rural themselves have no very precise meaning, and, secondly, because many places which must indisputably be reckoned as urban have no distinct boundaries.

The method of division usually adopted is to select those registration districts and sub-districts in which are situated the chief towns, and to consider the inhabitants of these as representing the urban population, while the inhabitants of all the other districts and sub-districts are considered to be of rural character.

The urban population, as thus determined, consists of the inhabitants of the chief towns and. their immediate neighbourhood, while the rural population includes the inhabitants of the smaller towns as well as of the strictly country parishes.3

Adopting this method of dividing the population, we have following results:—

Area in Acres. Years. Population
Increase in
Increase per
cent. in
England and Wales 37,239,351{ 1851 17,927,609
1861 20,066,224 2,138,615 11.93
1871 22,712,266 2,646,042 13.19
1881 25,974,439 3,262,173 14.36
Town Population , i.e., inhabitants of the districts and sub-districts which include the chief towns. 3,171,565{ 1851 9,155,964
1861 10,933,234 1,777,270 19.41
1871 12,910,647 1,977,413 18.09
1881 15,445,296 2,534,649 19.63
Country Population , i.e., inhabitants of the remainder of England and Wales which comprises the smaller towns and the country parishes. 34,067,786{ 1851 8,771,645
1861 9,132,990 361,345 4.12
1871 9,801,619 668,629 7.32
1881 10,529,143 727,524 7.42

The urban population, therefore, using the term in the sense of the inhabitants of the chief towns only or their immediate neighbourhood, stood at the census of 1881, to the remaining or rural population, in the proportion of 147 to 100; the proportion in 1871 having been 132 to 100. This change in the proportions was not due to any decrease of growth in the rural population, which fully maintained the rate of increase attained in the previous decade, but to a considerable rise in the rate of growth of the urban population, this rate having mounted from 18.09 per cent. in the previous ten years to 19.63 in the decade just concluded.

The rural population, however, as determined by this method, includes the inhabitants of a very large number of places which, though not 'of sufficient magnitude to rank as "chief towns," are yet of such a size that their inhabitants can scarcely be considered as living under rural conditions. It would be highly desirable to ascertain, at any rate approximately, what was the number of the urban population, if the term be extended so as to include this class of persons.

Urban and Rural Sanitary Districts

The recent division of the country into sanitary areas, some of which are styled Urban and the rest Rural Sanitary Districts, furnishes the best available basis for such a calculation.

At the time of the late census there were 966 urban sanitary districts, besides the 39 districts within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Board of Works (cf. Vol. II., Table 2.) The aggregate population of these 1,005 districts was 17,636,646, while the population of the remaining or rural sanitary districts amounted to only 8,337,793. The proportion, therefore, of persons living in places, which for one reason or another were considered to be of sufficient importance to exercise urban powers, to persons living elsewhere, was 212 to 100, or somewhat more than two to one.

Assuming these districts to represent the urban element and the remainder to represent the rural element in the population, the following would be an approximate account of the distribution of the people of England and Wales:—

with Populations of—
Number of
Percentage of
Population of
England and
Wales, 1881.
250,000 and upwards 6* 5,722,677 22.0
100,000—250,000 14 1,976,498 7.6
50,000—100,000 27 1,796,149 6.9
20,000—50,000 98 2,958,177 11.4
10,000—20,000 158 2,172,630 8.4
3,000—10,000 469 2,648,321 10.2
Under 3,000 195 362,194 1.4
Total Urban Population 967 17,636,646 67.9
Total Rural Population 8,337,793 32.1
ENGLAND and WALES 25,974,439 100.0
*This includes the entire District of the Metropolitan Board of Works, which is here reckoned as a single urban sanitary district.

The urban sanitary districts are of such recent creation, and were often constructed with so little reference to previously existing boundaries, that it is impossible in many cases to ascertain what was the precise population at the date of previous censuses, and thus to calculate the comparative growths of the urban and rural elements in the country.' If, however, we assume that the rate of growth has been the same for the total aggregates as for those parts for which the necessary data are procurable, the following figures will represent the respective growths of the present4 urban and rural populations:—

Population. Per-centage of Population of
England and Wales.
1861. 1871. 1881. 1861. 1871. 1881.
URBAN POPULATION 12,696,50 14,929,283 17,636,646 63.3 65.7 67.9
RURAL POPULATION 7,369,704 7,782,983 8,337,793 36.7 34.3 32.1
ENGLAND and WALES 20,066,224 22,712,266 25,974,439 100.0 100.0 100.0

The figures in this table show the increasing predominance of the urban as compared with the rural element. In 1861 there were 172 dwellers in towns to 100 dwellers in rural districts; but in 1871 the number had risen to 192, and in 1881 had reached 212.

4. Municipal and Parliamentary Boroughs

The municipal boroughs (see Vol. I., Summary Table VI.) in England and Wales numbered 243 at the date of the census. Their aggregate population amounted to 8,412,121 persons; so that 32.4 per cent. of the total inhabitants of England and Wales were in enjoyment of such privileges and advantages as are derivable from municipal government. The population of Municipal boroughs had increased since 1871 by 27.3 per cent.; while the population living outside municipal boundaries had increased only by 9.0 per cent. This greater rate of increase in the municipal population was partly due to greater growth within the limits of the former boroughs, partly to the extension of their boundaries, and partly to the incorporation of 19 new boroughs in the course of the decennium.5 The boroughs varied greatly in population. the smallest being Hedon in the East Riding of Yorkshire, with a population of 966, and the largest being Liverpool, with a population of 552,508.

There are 198 Parliamentary boroughs (see Vol. I., Summary Table V.) in England and Wales, neither their number nor their boundaries having been changed in the past ten years. It may be interesting to show here in one view the growth of these boroughs as an aggregate during the past 30 years:—

Year of
Number of
Enumerated Population.
In Parliamentary
Outside Parlia-
mentary Boroughs.
1851 200 7,438,679 10,488,930 17,927,609
1861 200 8,638,569 11,427,655 20,066,224
1871 198 10,649,997* 12,062,269* 22,712,266
1881 198 12,285,537 13,688,902 25,974,439

1851-61   1,199,890 938,725 2,138,615
1861-71   2,011,428* 634,614* 2,646,042
1871-81   1,635,540 1,626,633 3,262,173

INCREASE per Cent. in THREE succesive DECADES.
1851-61   16.1 8.9 11.9
1861-71   23.3* 5.6* 13.2
1871-81   15.4 13.5 14.4
* Between 1861 and 1871 there were considerable changes of electoral areas which affected the figures for that period.

5. London and the other Great Towns.

The population of the 20 great English towns, included in the weekly return of the Registrar General at the date of the recent census,6 amounted to 7,580,319, showing an increase of 16.9 per cent. upon the numbers enumerated in 1871.

The rate of increase raided very widely in the different towns, but in one only was re no increase at all. This exception was Manchester, where the population was found to have slightly fallen, in consequence, probably, of the conversion of dwelling-houses into warehouses and offices. "With this, however, must be taken into consideration, the fact that the closely adjoining town of Salford showed an increase of no less than 41.2 per cent. Taking the two continuous towns together, there was an increase of 8.8 per cent.

THE 20 TOWNS, in the ORDER of their RATES of INCREASE In the past DECENNIUM.

Town. Increase per cent.
Increase per cent.
Increase per cent.
Salford 41.2 21.8 72
Oldham 34.8 14.2 53.9
Nottingham* 34.2 13.9 52.8
Leicester 28.5 39.9 79.8
Hull 26.5 24.8 57.9
Bradford* 24.4 37.3 70.8
Leeds 19.3 25.1 49.2
Sheffield 18.6 29.6 53.6
Sunderland 18.6 20.5 42.9
London 17.3 16.1 36.1
Birmingham 16.6 16.1 35.4
Brighton* 16.3 17.5 36.6
Bristol 13.3 18.5 34.3
Newcastle-upon-Tyne 13.2 17.7 33.2
Portsmouth 12.7 19.8 35
Liverpool 12 11.1 24.5
Wolverhampton 10.9 12.2 24.5
Norwich 9.3 7.3 17.3
Plymouth 7.3 9.8 17.9
Manchester -2.8
3.7 0.8
* The municipal boundaries of Brighton, Nottingham, and Bradford were extended during the decade 1871-81, but all the rates of increase given in the above table relate to the populations of the extended areas.

The increase of the 19 provincial towns in the above list was 16.5 per cent. during the last decade, while that of London was 17.3 per cent. In the previous decennium (1861-71) the respective rates had been 16.1 for London, and 17.2 for the provincial towns. Thus London has increased in a somewhat higher ratio, and the 19 provincial towns in a. somewhat lower ratio, than was the case in the preceding decennium.

The population of London was 3,816,483, and by itself somewhat exceeded the aggregate population of the 19 great provincial towns, which amounted to 3,763,836.

No fewer than 562,223 persons were added to the inhabitants of the metropolis in the course of the decade, a number exceeding the entire population of the largest of the provincial towns.

The population of London has almost exactly doubled itself in the course of 41 years, whereas the population of the rest of England and Wales has taken 57 years to multiply in an equal degree. The metropolis has thus been gaining in its proportions as compared with the country at large; and, whereas at the beginning of the century out of nine inhabitants of England and Wales one lived in London, the proportion has now risen to one out of seven.7

Year of
Population of England and Wales and in
London at the Nine Enumerations.
and Wales.
London. Persons in London
to 100 in England
and Wales.
1801 8,892,536 958,863 10.78
1811 10,164,256 1,138,815 11.20
1821 12,000,236 1,378,947 11.49
1831 13,896,797 1,654,994 11.91
1841 15,914,148 1,948,417 12.24
1851 17,927,609 2,362,236 13.18
1861 20,066,224 2,803,989 13.97
1871 22,712,266 3,254,260 14.33
1881 25,974,439 3,816,483 14.69

The increase of population in the last, as also in the preceding, decade was entirely peripheral. In the centre of London is a compact area, consisting of ten registration districts, in which, owing to the substitution of business premises for dwelling-houses, the resident population has for a long period been undergoing diminution. The inhabitants of this Central Area decreased by 7.8 per cent. in the course of the past ten years, having also diminished by 5.8 per cent. in the preceding decade.

Districts in
Central Area* .
Decrease per cent. Districts in
Central Area* .
Decrease per cent.
1861-71. 1871-81. 1861-81. 1861-71. 1871-81. 1861-81.
St.George Hanover Square 0.0 4.2 4.2 Holborn 2.5 7.1 9.4
Westminster 3.0 9.1 11.8 London City 33.0 32.3 54.6
Marylebone 1.5 2.7 4.2 Shoreditch 1.7 0.5 2.1
St.Giles 1.0 15.6 16.1 Whitechapel 3.0 6.8 9.6
Strand 14.0 18.8 30.4 St. George-
1.7 1.9 3.5
* The number of "inhabited houses" in this central Area has diminished by 6,655 in the last 10 years, while the number of "uninhabited houses", that is, of houses not occupied at night, has increased by 3,055. In other words 6,655 houses previously used as dwellings have been replaced by 3,055 houses, not used for any but business purposes.

Round this Central Area, and constituting the rest of Inner London, is a circle of districts, all of which have undergone more or less rapid increase, the growth, speaking generally, being greater the further the district is from the centre. The population in this circle increased 27.7 per cent. in the past ten years, and 28.4 per cent. in the preceding decade.

Districts of
Inner London.
Increase per cent. Other
Districts of
Inner London.
Increase per cent.
1861-71. 1871-81. 1861-81. 1861-71. 1871-81. 1861-81.
Kensington 48.8 24.5 85.3 St. Saviour, Southwark 0.7 11.5 12.2
Fulham 64.9 74.0 186.7 St. Olave, Southwark 20.1 10.0 32.1
Chelsea 11.5 24.6 38.9 Lambeth 28.6 21.8 56.6
Hampstead 69.0 40.8 137.9 Wandsworth 77.6 68.3 198.9
Pancras 11.4 6.7 18.8 Camberwell 55.7 67.6 161.0
Islington 37.6 32.3 82.1 Greenwich 17.0 30.4 52.6
Hackney 50.0 49.2 123.9 Lewisham 61.2 42.2 129.3
Bethnal Green 14.3 5.7 20.8 Woolwich* * -2.8 10.2 7.1
Stepney 2.0 1.5 3.5        
Mile End Old Town 27.5 13.3 44.5        
Poplar 46.9 34.5 97.6        
* Woolwich District forms an exception to the otherwise general rule, that those districts which increased in the past decade also increased in the preceeding decade.

Nor does this represent the entire growth of the metropolis. For outside this circle of districts is still further an outer ring, not included within the limits of Inner London, but only separated from it by an arbitrary line, in which the growth has been even more rapid; its population having increased no less than 50.5 per cent. in the past decennium, and 50.8 in the preceding one.

The growth of Greater London, that is of Inner London, together with this outer amounted to 22.7 per cent in 'the past decade, and to 47.9 per cent. in the past years.

The following Table will serve to give a summary view of the changes of population above as having occurred in the several constituent parts of Greater London:—

Population in Rates of Increase or Decrease per cent.
1861. 1871. 1881. 1861-71. 1871-81. 1861-81.
Central Area 1,011,297 952,880 878,556 -5.8 -7.8 -13.1
Rest of Inner London 1,792,692 2,301,380 2,937,927 +28.4 +27.7 +63.9
Inner or Registration London* 2,803,989 3,254,260 3,816,483 +16.1 +17.3 +36.1
Outer Ring 418,731 631,381 950,178 +50.8 +50.5 +126.9
Greater London 3,222,720 3,885,641 4,766,661 +20.6 +22.7 +47.9
* Inner or Registration London is the London of the Registrar-General's Report, and is practically conterminous with the District of the Metropolitan Board of Works. Greater London consists of the Metropolitan and City Police Districts.

1 The tables relating to the Areas, Houses, and Population, male and female, of Counties, Parliamentary Divisions and Boroughs, Municipal Boroughs and Wards, Hundreds, Petty Sessional Divisions, Lieutenancy Sub-divisions, Civil Pmrishes, Ecclesiastical Provinces, Dioceses anti Parishes, will be found in Vol. 1., which has an index at p.555.

The tables relating to the Areas, Houses, and Population, male and female, of Registration Counties, Districts, and Sub-districts with their component parts, as also of Sanitary Districts, Public Institutions, &c., will be found in Vol. II., which has an index at p.685.

For comparative tables of successive Censuses, see Appendix to this Report, Tables 6, 7, and 9.

2 "Emigrant" as used above includes: (1) Emigrants proper; (2) Persons gone abroad as travellers, &c.; (3) Persons who removed from England to other parts of the United Kingdom; (4) Any persons who died the decade, but whose deaths were not registered at the date of the census; (5) Any excess of English or Welsh persons in army, navy, or merchant service, abroad, over similar persons at previous census. "Immigrant," of course, is used to include the opposites of these groups. The Table of Emigrants at page 105 includes most of Group 1, and also many of Group 2. As regards Group 5, there was an excess of 3,642 persons in 1881 as compared with 1871. Of the other groups no numerical account whatsoever can be given.

3 These are the urban and rural populations of the Registrar General's Reports.

4 It must be remembered that many of the districts, which are at present urban, would not have been sufficiently populous to rank as urban in 1871, and still less in 1861. The urban population for 1861 and 1871, as given in the table, is therefore overstated.

5 Namely, Accrington, Birkenhead, Blackpool, Burslem, Burton-upon-Trent, Bury, Cheltenham, Conway, Crewe, Heywood, Hyde, Jarrow, Leamington, Luton, Over Darwen, Peterborough, St. Ives, Stoke-upon-Trent, Taunton.

6 Since the date of the census, eight other towns have been added to the list.

7 More precisely, the proportions were 1 : 9.3 in 1801, and 1 : 6.8 in 1881.

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