Historical background

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Census return (1871)

The first official census was taken in the UK in 1801. It was taken because there was an increasing concern about the amount of food available for people to eat. Up until 1831 the census simply showed how many people lived in each house. From 1841 the name of each person was included. After 1851 the other details that you see in the census below were included.

This page contains an image of the document and a simplified transcript.

Census return, 1871.  TNA: RG 10/868 f47
Census return, 1901. TNA: RG 13/483 f187
Enlarge image of 1871 census return

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Street Name Role Status Age Job Place of birth
9 Bottons Place William Towers head Married 32 Brick­layer Chelsea Middx
Mary Towers wife Married 28 Richmond Surrey
Elizabeth Towers daughter unm 11 Mortlake Surrey
William R. Towers son unm 10 Richmond Surrey
Henry Towers son unm 7 Richmond
George Towers son unm 6 Richmond
Edwin Towers son unm 5 Richmond
James H Towers son unm 2 Richmond
Thomas Towers son unm 9 mo Richmond

What's interesting about this document?

Did you notice that William was named after his father? This used to be very common. How many people do you know who have the same name as their dad? Also, the head of the house, William Towers, moved away from the area where he was born before the birth of his children. Can you think of any reasons why he may have moved? What do yo think 'unm' means?

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Find out what Oscar Wilde thought of the way children were treated in prison.

Go to Oscar Wilde's letter