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Until the first census of 1801 there was no national record of population size. Estimates have to be made by reference to other records, and the use of various methods of extrapolating from these data. These include Muster Rolls, and Parish Records such as Baptisms and Burials.

Estimates of British Population:

During the Bronze Age (c1,500BC) the population of Britain is thought to have been under 250,000.

By the time of the the Roman occupation (43-410AD) it is thought to have been just over 1 million.

The population of England at the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) is believed to have been 1-2 million.

It may have grown to around 4-6 million by 1300, but a series of problems, including shortage of food and inflation (c1300), several years of cold wet weather (1310-1316), and sickness (possibly "foot and mouth" disease) in oxen (1316-1318), resulted in the "Great Famine", when 10% of the population (maybe 50,000 people) died. There was some recovery in the 1320s, as revealed by the 1327 Poll Tax records.

The "Black Death" (plague) of 1348 (starting in Weymouth on 25th June, but spreading to London by the winter) resulted in further huge loss of life, with an estimated 30%-50% of the population dying. There were further outbreaks of plague through the 14th century, and by 1400 the population had probably dropped to around 2-3 million people.

Estimate of British Population:

1500BC <250,000
100 1 million
1086 1-2 million
1300 4-6 million
1400 2-3 million
1550 4 million
1600 5 million
1700 6 million
1800 9 million (England & Wales)
1800 10.6 million (Great Britain)
1850 21 million (Great Britain)
1850 22 million (United Kingdom)
1900 38 million
1991 56.5 million

The population had risen to 4 million by the mid 16th century, 5 million by 1600, and 6 million by 1700, bringing the population back to numbers not seen since the time of the Black Death of 1348-49.

The prosperity and improved living conditions during the Georgian period brought a significant rise in population through the 18th century. The first nationwide census of 1801 showed a figure of almost 9 million (for England and Wales), with 1.6 million in Scotland. By 1851 the population had doubled with 18 million in England and Wales, and 3 million in Scotland, and 1.5 million in Northern Ireland, giving a UK total of 22 million.

In 1901 the UK total was 38 million, since when the growth has slowed. In 1991 the total was 56.5 million.

In 1800 about 80% of the population of England and Wales lived in the country, and everyone cooked on wood. By 1900, following the development of the railway network and the industrial revolution, 70% of the population lived in large towns and cities.

Population of Hungerford:

The population of Hungerford is estimated to have been as follows:

1522: c500-700 (Muster Rolls)
16th century: 741 (see Margaret Yates, "Town & Countryside in Western Berkshire,
c1327-c1600", p 74)

1558: 600 - 700 (Assuming the national increase of 10% every decade since the 1520's)

1600: 1,000 - 1,100 (Assuming a birth rate of 30 per 1000, and using the average annual baptism rate over 10 years (33.4 for Hungerford 1591-1600)).
1650: 1,000 (Parish Registers)
1662:    870 (Hearth Tax - 205 hearths x 4.3)
1663: 1,000 (Hearth Tax - 57 households too poor to tax. ?total 160 households)
1664:    937 (Hearth Tax - 218 hearths x 4.3)

From censuses:
1801: 1,987
1811: 1,693
1821: 2,025
1831: 2,283
1841: 2,323
1851: 2,696
1861: 2,551
1871: 2,699
1881: 2,560
1891: 2,513
1901: 2,363

1911: 9007 (Hungerford Rural District)
1921: 8320 (HRD)
1931: 8706 (HRD)
1939: 9592 (HRD)
1951: 9417 (HRD)
1961: 9749 (HRD)

1951: 3,020
2001: 5,559
2011: 5,767

Would you believe it?!

The Parish registers for 1717 record the baptism of "James The Third", son of Jehosophat & Jane Kimber, who had two of the same name before.

It seems that Jehosophat Kimber had once accidentally met and conversed with the King and from thence named all his sons James!

They had at least ten children, three sons were called James, one was called Jehosophat, and daughters were called Elizabeth, Ann, Mary and Sarah.

See also:

- Parish Registers

- Parish Register Stats 1700-1739

- 1841 Census - List of Heads of Household in High Street

- 1841 Census - "Parsons Lane" and "Church Green" (ie Parsonage Lane and The Croft)

- 1851 Census - Occupation of the people (photocopy)

- Census 1851 - Occupation of the People - Males (transcription)

- Census 1851 - Occupation of the People - Females (transcription)

- Census 1841 - HHA Archives E5

- Census 1841 (part)

- Census 1851 (part)

- Census 1861 - HHA Archives E21

- Census 1861 (part)

- Census 1871 (part)

- Census 1881 - HHA Archives A41

- Census 1881 (part)

- Census 1901 - HHA Archives E32

- Trade & Industry (for more on the changing pattern of employment)

- A Census of Berkshire, B.F.H.S. [HHA Archives S2]