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