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The Religious Census of 1851

Accommodation and Attendance at Worship

 One of the most influential ideas around in the middle of the nineteenth century was that information was important. As creators of 'Information Technology', we are aware of the value of data, but this was something that came as a revelation to the Victorians. The first proper Census took place in 1842; the 1851 Census was an improved model. Additionally, two other censuses were carried out in 1851: one was on education, the other on the state of religion.

 There were several reasons for the Census apart from a growing hunger for facts of any sort. The industrialised cities were seen by some as abodes of the godless, there was a feeling that there were many more Roman Catholics than anyone knew, the Anglian Church was concerned about disestablishment, and the government wished to know if there were enough seats for everybody.

 Various totals from the Census were made available at the time, but it was not until 1951 that the detailed information became available. Historians have spent some time worrying about how accurate the returns were. Certainly, to a jaundiced eye, some parishes seem to be attempting to pull some sort of wool over someone's eyes, and others reveal an indifference bordering on indolence. However, we must work with what we have, and the entries for Hockwold cum Wilton seem honest and complete, although the figures for attendance at the non-conformist services are suspiciously round numbers. A congregation of 90 in the Primitive Methodist Meeting House must have been a squash!

 The Census asked a number of questions on different coloured forms for the established church, non-conformists, etc., all relating to the situation on Mothers' Day, the 30th March 1851. Numbers of those attending on the day, average for the year, number of Sunday School Children, all in respect of morning, afternoon and evening services. This is world were pews had to be paid for, congregations of a hundred or more were common, there were large numbers of children at Sunday School and there were Church rates and Tithes. The difference between a Rector, for Hockwold, and a Vicar, for Wilton, is reflected in the value of the tithes. Fortunately, the Rector and the Vicar had been the same man since 1666, hence Mr Hanson signs for both parishes.

 There are four entries for the village:

 WILTON Population with Hockwold 1067

 Ancient church dedicated to St. James. Endowed, tithe commuted at 86.17.6. Glebe est. 55. Fees 1, other 1. Sittings: Free 160, others 80 (exclusive of School Sittings) total 240. Some services taken alternatively with Hockwold. On the 30th March there was a morning service with 102 attending plus 96 Sunday School Children, total 198.

 Signed: W. W. Hanson Vicar of the parish of Wilton near Brandon.

 HOCKWOLD Population with Wilton 1067

 Ancient church dedicated to St. Peter. Endowed, tithe commuted at 671.12.2. Glebe est. 15. Fees 1, other 1. Sittings: Free 150, others 11 (exclusive of School Sittings) total 261. Some services taken alternatively with Wilton. On the 30th March there was an afternoon service with 160 attending plus 98 Sunday School Children, total 258

 Signed: W. W. Hanson Rector of the parish of Hockwold. Wilton near Brandon.

 Hockwold cum Wilton Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

 Erected 1822, no other usage. Sittings: Free 20 others 81. There was an afternoon service on 30th March with 50 attending plus 32 Sunday School children. At the evening service there was a congregation of 50.

 Signed: John Greenfield, Leader of Stewards, Hockwold cum Wilton

 Wilton (Hockwold cum Wilton)

 Primitive Methodist Meeting House erected 1846, no other usage. Sittings: Free 20 other 85. At the 30th March afternoon service there were 50 attending, with 90 for the evening service.

 Signed: John Nallows, Steward. Butcher. Wilton. 

  Last Update: Tuesday 17 April, 2007 13:32
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