Conjugal Condition of the People

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Marriage is of so much importance in every civil community that no Census is complete in which the conjugal condition is left undistinguished. Yet it was strangely omitted in the Census, and was only discussed by speculative writers unacquainted with the facts, until 1851 when the conjugal condition of the people was first inquired into, and the results were published.

1. Husbands and Wives.

Husbands and Wives

In 1851, 2,958,564 husbands and 3,015,634 wives were enumerated in England. The numbers have since that date rapidly increased, and in 1S61 the husbands in England amounted to 3,428,443, the wives to 3,488,952. About 60,509 husbands whose wives were at home, were absent from this country in 1861.

Increase in number of Husbands and Wives

The increase in ten years was 469,879 in the number of husbands, and 473,318 in the number of wives at home. The married women of the age 15-55 increased at the rate of 16 per cent. This rapid rate of increase in the married part of the English population at home "will dissipate the fears of those who entertain any apprehensions that Englishmen of the present day are less disposed to contract marriage, and to take upon themselves the duty of heads of families, than their ancestors. The increase of families living in the healthy condition of matrimony is chiefly the cause and partly the result of the prosperity of the country. While other nations have been cutting up their small plots of land into smaller plots, living unmarried on life annuities, and reducing the number of their children in various ways, the English people have followed an entirely different policy; they have married, worked with increasing industry, skilfully struck out into new fields of employment, and peopled cities and colonies with millions of their descendants.

Female Emigrants

The female emigrants marry in full as large proportions as the women at home; but the arrangements to enable men to take wives out as emigrants are defective: hence the increase in the proportion of married men is greater than the increase in the proportion of married women.

Table 78

The population of England was enumerated on the night of April 7th; and, owing to separation on that night, the wives of 186,021 husbands, the husbands of 246,530 wives, were separately enumerated.

Average age of Husbands and Wives

The average age of the husbands in England is 43.0 years, and of their wives 40.5 years. The husband is 2.5 years older than the wife. While the numbers of each quinquennial period of age are given in Table V., Population Tables, 1861, Vol. II., the corresponding ages of husband and wife are displayed in the Table IX. Thus 474,808 husbands of the age 30 and under 35, lived with 1,168 wives of the age 15 and under 20, 35,483 of the age 20-25, 153,548 of the age 25-30, 209,788 of their own age 30-35, 57,276 of the age 35-40,.. and one wife of 90-95, unless there is some mistake in the strange return. The like suspicion attaches to the statement that of 491,515 wives of 30-35 one was married to a husband of 90-95; but there is not the same reason to doubt the accuracy of the return of these young wives having 10 husbands of 85-90, and 32 of 80-85, and 75 of 75-80, and 209 of 70-75. The extreme disparities of age are rare, and in the majority of marriages the ages arc well assorted.


15- 20- 25- 30- 35- 40- 45- 50- 55- 60- 65- 70- 75- 80- 85- 90-
AGES of the WIVES of 474,808 HUSBANDS whose AGES were 30-35.
1,168 35,483 153,548 209,788 57,276 13,832 2,703 697 199 82 13 12 2 4 - 1
AGES of the HUSBANDS of 491,515 WIVES whose AGES were 30-35.
30 4,897 55,796 209,788 140,708 53,941 15,681 6,321 2,306 1,282 438 209 75 32 10 1

2. Widowers and Widows.

Widowers and Widows

As husband and wife never die in the same instant of time, every marriage ends in widowhood; and in a stationary population marrying at a uniform rate, as many widowed persons are left annually as there are annual marriages. The sum of the annual widowers and widows is equal to half the sum of the persons married; but the married persons enumerated do not bear this proportion to the widowers and widows. The number of widows depends upon the mortality of husbands, and the mean duration of widowhood which is cut short either by death or by re-marriage. The same rule applies to widowers. And as more widowers re-marry than widows the widows exceed the widowers in number.

Table 74

The widowers in 1861 amounted to 359,955, and the widows to 756,717. Of 100 men of the age of 20 and upwards 6'8 are widowers; while of 100 women of those ages 13'2 are widows. To five wives there is one widow.

Table 77

The proportional number of widowers increases with age; thus at 25-30 the proportion in 100 men is 1.1; at 50-55 it is 8.9; at 60-65 it is 17.9. After the age of 30 the proportion of widowers to the number of men at the several ages is doubled every ten years. The proportion of widows is still greater even in the earlier ages; and at the age of 60-65 more than one in three; at 70-75 more than one in two women living are widows; at 80 and upwards four out of five living are widows.

3. Bachelors and Spinsters.

Bachelors and Spinsters

While the number has increased, the proportion of bachelors and of spinsters at all the ages between 20 and 40 has decreased; and the husbands and wives at those prolific ages have not only increased in number but in proportion. Thus the wives of the age of 20-40 were 1,608,216 in 1851 and 1,846,514 in 1861, the increase having been nearly two hundred thousand.

The spinsters of the age of 20-40 were 1,229,051; only 60,665 more than the numbers unmarried at the same ages ten years ago.

The bachelors of the age of 20-40 were 1,198,050 in 1851; and so rapidly do they abandon this state that their numbers are scarcely increasing; they amounted to 1,201,576 in 1861.

Those who dread the depopulation of England will observe with satisfaction the resources which the country commands in this reserve both of spinsters and bachelors; while the economists will see that prudence is exercised to an extent which Malthus scarcely anticipated.

The proportional number of women between the ages of 20-40 in the married state varies in every county; it is 51 in 100 in Westmorland, and 69 in Durham.

If all the unmarried men of the age of 20 and upwards are classed as bachelors their numbers in 1861 were 1,447,319; including besides the 1,201,576 unmarried men of the age of 20-40 no less than 187,221 men of the age 40-60; 55,145 of 60-80; and 3,371 whom it is allowable to call old bachelors, for they are of the age 80-100; and as if to show that celibacy is compatible with long life, six proclaimed themselves centenarians.

Besides 944,714 girls of 15 and under 20, there were more than a million and a half (1,537,314) spinsters of the age of 20 and upwards in England; including 643,366 of 20-25, and 307,633 of 25-30, and 168,100 of 30-35, and 109,952 of 35-40; at 40-60 their numbers fell to 223,205; at 60-80 to 78,618; at 80-100 to 6,440. Twenty of these spinsters were centenarians.

Table 74

To 100 men of the age of 20 and upwards, 28 are bachelors; to 100 women of the Table 74. corresponding ages, 27 are spinsters. Between the ages of 20-40 of 100 women, 39 are spinsters, 58 wives, and 3 are widows.

4. Women living in Celibacy, and others.

Unmarried Women and Their Children. Tables 80, 81

To complete this view of the population, it is right to bring into account the number of unmarried women, who bore 423,171 children in the ten years 1851-60, when 6,048,479 children were borne in wedlock by an average number of 2,757,705 wives of the age of 15 and under 55.

42,317 children of unmarried women are registered annually. Now 100 wives of the age of 15-55 bear 22 children (21.933) annually; consequently 192,938 married women of the age of 15-55 would bear 42,317 children. The inference is probable then, that as far as child-bearing women are in question, 192,938 must be added to the wives and deducted from the spinsters.

Of women of the age of 15-55, about three millions are married, or are otherwise to the same extent as married women bearing children, and one million are living in a state of celibacy.

While out of 100 married women of the age of 15-55 full 21.9 bear children annually; 100 unmarried women bear children in the proportion of 1.7.

If the mothers of all the children are of the ages 20-40, then 35.0 in 100 married women and 3.3 unmarried women bear children annually. One in three married women of the age (20-40) bears a child annually; and of the unmarried women of that age the proportion is one in 30. Allowing for unregistered births this proportion is not over-stated.

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