Friday, May 27, 2005

The Truth Hurts

From the UK National Archives:

Census reveals the gossip columnist from 1861
19 May 2005

In vividly describing his neighbours as “bastards”, “prostitutes” and “syphilitic paupers” in the census, Isaac Norris Hunt could almost be depicted as the 1861 version of a gossip columnist.

A data collector for Stow-on-the-World in the 1861 national census, Mr Hunt took a rather overzealous approach into his task of collating information on his fellow Cheltenham residents.

Along with the vigorous observations of I.N Hunt, The National Archives has unveiled the complete name, birthplace and occupation of residents across all 52 counties of England and Wales in 1861. You can trace the lives of ancestors through the five consecutive censuses.

A railway manager by profession, Mr Hunt took the opportunity to add some highly personal remarks when entering the occupation of his neighbours:
* Several are listed as prostitutes including Emma Cook aged 19 and the 64-year old Mary Newman
* Eliza Williams is said to be ‘kept’ by her ‘paramour’ William Clapton
* The unfortunate Hannah Cokey is described as a ‘pauper, syphilitic’
* William Shall was an ‘absconding bankrupt’
* Elizabeth Wixey ‘cohabits with a man’
* and the two young sons of the ‘very doubtful’ Lavinia Collicott are described rather bluntly as ‘bastards’.
Unsurprisingly, Isaac Hunt does not appear to have undertaken the role of enumerator in any of the later censuses, which are now held at The National Archives.

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