Oldnall End in the 1841 Census

Just over two years after the Tithe Apportionment, the British government carried out the first national census that gives us the name, age and occupation of every inhabitant, recorded at the address where they spent the night of 6 June 1841.

Oldnall End is not mentioned by name in the 1841 census return, but it corresponds almost exactly with District 6 of Berkswell, described as:

All that part of the Parish of Berkswell which lies to the West of the Turnpike Road leading to Warwick as far as Carrol Green, bounded on the South West by Beach Wood and Dockers Lane, in the East by Balsall Common, and on the South by the Road leading thro the village to Coventry.

The census names several residential nuclei within Oldnall End / District 6, including Carol Green, Beech Wood, Beech End, Truggist Hill, and Berkswell Common. There are just three named roads: Dockers Lane, Barratts Lane, and Waste Lane. The only farmsteads large enough to be named on the census were Lavender Hall, Ram Hall, Yew Tree House, and Moat House. The vast majority of houses had no specific address and must have been known primarily either by their relation to local landmarks, or by the name of their owner or occupier.

NOTE: The overlap between Oldnall End and the neighbouring parish division of Beech End is evident in the 1841 census. For the purposes of analysis I have included several properties on the modern Truggist Lane that are recorded on the census under Beech End, but which more commonly fall under Oldnall End (today’s Berkswell Grange, Jasmine Cottage, The Fordrough and Moat Cottage). I have not included the properties recorded on the 1841 census under ‘Beechwood’, which is the modern Hodgetts Lane – these all formed part of the division of Beech End.

The Enumerator’s Long Walk

The census enumerator had a long walk around District 6. He started at the Brown family’s malthouse on Berkswell crossroads and travelled south and mostly clockwise, finishing with a hike across fields to isolated Lavender Hall. The map below shows an approximation of his route, divided into coloured phases for ease of navigation. Some sections, especially in the middle of the route, suggest a great deal of walking back and forth across Berkswell Common. When he finished his visit to Lavender Hall, I imagine him heading quickly north along the lane for a restorative drink at the Bear and Ragged Staff!

Demographic Analysis

The 1841 census records 67 dwellings in Oldnall End (plus 2 uninhabited on census night), housing 262 inhabitants. They were more or less evenly split by gender, with 138 male and 124 female inhabitants. 95 were 18 or under. Cross-referencing with the Tithe Apportionment, we can see that 19 of the dwellings were owner-occupied; these owner-occupiers included six women, of whom three were unmarried and three widowed. The remainder of the properties were tenanted.

Oldnall End was a decisively rural community. Of the 164 inhabitants who recorded an occupation on the 1841 census, 23 described themselves as farmers and 17 as agricultural labourers, with another 5 labourers of unspecified specialisation. There were 12 female servants and 16 male servants, most of them living in with their employers. Many of the women and under-18s who recorded no occupation almost certainly contributed to the parish’s agricultural labour as well.

We can get a good flavour of the wider community from the range of occupations recorded. Skilled trades were well represented, with 5 shoemakers, 3 carpenters, 3 rake makers, a tailor, a sawyer, a wheelwright, a linen weaver, a hosier, and a bricklayer. There was a resident police man (although he may have worked in Coventry), a baker, a butcher and a grocer. Those elderly residents wealthy enough not to have to work were represented by an annuitant (82-year-old Sarah REAVES) and four described as ‘independent‘, including Oldnall End’s oldest resident Hannah BATES (88).

Inevitably, there had been some changes in the two years since the Tithe Apportionment. 14 of the owner-occupiers or named tenants from the tithe were no longer in residence:

  • Four had died, in every case leaving either a widow or children in residence at the time of the census.
  • Eight were resident elsewhere (including George HARDING, in hospital in Birmingham) or cannot be located on the census, although of these, four had left servants or family members at the property on census night.
  • Two cannot be located and their properties cannot be identified on the census.

Although 14 changes out of 69 in just two years sounds like a lot, in fact only one of these involved a completely new family in residence (plus three that cannot be traced). In another case a tenant had left and the owner had moved back in, while on Truggist Lane, William GIBBS had left his owned cottage empty while he rented another one around the corner. Overall, Oldnall End’s population had remained relatively stable between April 1839 and June 1841.

Learn more:
In the 1841 Census Enumerator’s Footsteps (Part 1)