Hereford & Worcester

The census in Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Information gathered in the England and Wales census gives a snapshot of the everyday life of ordinary people.

Institutions like prisons and hospitals also fill out census returns, giving a picture of who was in them on a particular day in March.

The census also gives an idea of the changing face of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

It charts everything from the kind of homes people lived in to the kind of jobs they had.


The population in Herefordshire was 115,489. Of these, 815 were in the workhouse, and there was one chimney sweep aged between five and nine.

Image caption Engraving showing the Crystal Palace, London, during the Great Exhibition of 1851

The population of Worcestershire was 276,926. Of these 1,467 were in the workhouse, and there were two chimney sweeps aged between five and nine.

In Worcestershire there were around 9,000 people working as tailors, and almost 5,000 making gloves.

In April a bear hunt was being arranged in Hereford - the Hereford Times reported: "We often contain in "gleanings" accounts of bear hunts in foreign countries, but this week we introduce into our local news quite a novelty viz, an account of a bear hunt within the wall of our ancient city."

The Hereford Times on March 29, 1851 warned its readers of the dangers of not filling in the census form: "By the Census Act, the penalty for neglecting to give correct information is £5. (£544 today)". The current fine is £1000.


Image caption Queen Victoria died in 1901 - her statue outside Worcester's Shire Hall

Worcester gaol was built in 1813 on Castle Street, opposite the old Worcester Royal Infirmary. On census day 1901 140 men and 18 women were incarcerated there. The oldest woman is listed as Ann Mahoney, who was 70, and the oldest man was 80-year-old Charles Malin - who registered as a shoeing and general blacksmith. The youngest prisoner was 13-year-old Harry Hall, who's described as a coal-miner. Three of the Timmins family were also in the gaol - Margaret, aged 39, Elizabeth, aged 28 and 16-year-old John.

The census return for Worcester workhouse was filled in by 56 year old William Davis. The workhouse had been built seven years previously to house 260 people - but on that March Day there were 296 living there. The vast majority of them were over 65, with Eliza Ricketts and Hannah Long, both aged 95, recorded as the oldest. The youngest was Elizabeth Adams, aged four months, who was in the workhouse with her whole family, father John, mother Clara and siblings Thomas, aged nine, Bridgitte, aged seven and Elsie, aged four.

According to the Hereford Times, women in the city were planning a memorial window to the late Queen Victoria for the cathedral. The Mayor called a meeting to help raise funds for the county's young soldiers to provide them with "actual necessary clothing and other comforts." It was also emphasized in the paper how important it was that farmers and agricultural workers be included in the census, which took place on March 31.


Image caption Skylon, the centrepiece of the 1951 Festival of Britain, was built in Hereford

The population of Worcestershire was 524,783 (557,600 in 2008).

The census found that 38% of households in Worcestershire had no fixed bath and 12% had no piped water.

The News and Times in Worcester reported that the city's Police force had 102 officers, including three policewomen. There were nine fatal street accidents involving traffic in that year, and a further 271 where people were injured. The paper also had an advert for a five valve, three wave radio, costing £13/19/9, almost £350 in today's money.

The Hereford Times reported that people were complaining about the state of the city roads and that Hereford City Council could only provide £7,000 for the £40,000 worth that had been requested by the Roads and Waterworks Committee.

The Hereford Women's Conference took place where it was decided they would ask the city council "if they would be prepared to provide plants and ask shopkeepers to display them in window-boxes and that residents in the city should be encouraged to do the same."

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