The first census
At the end of the 18th century, the debate regarding
population size was given added impetus by the publication
of Thomas Malthus' Essay on the Principle of Population.
Malthus argued that the population was growing so quickly
that the country would soon be unable to feed itself. Publication
of the essay coincided with a period of war, bad harvests
and food shortages, and the concern these factors generated
may have persuaded the government to carry out the first
official census in 1801.