Stapleford and the 1911 Census

Stapleford and the 1911 Census


Next year every household will be required to complete a census form. The first national census was in 1841 and they have been carried out every 10 years since then except in 1941. The full details are only published after 100 years have passed so the last one for which the History Society has the full survey is 1911.


Compared with the forms which householders will probably be required to complete next year, the 1911 census is quite simple. Full names, age, sex, marital status, employment and birthplace were all that were required. Some owners named the house where they lived: The Grove or Stapleford House, for example. Some named the road while others simply wrote, Stapleford. Together with the change of road names it can be challenging to find exactly where people lived.


The 1911 census was unique because every household was filled in on a separate sheet. While previous and later censuses listed several households on a sheet until the page was full and continued onto the next sheet. In 1911 there were 136 occupied houses so there are 136 sheets to get out of sequence. There were also six buildings which were not inhabited and these include the St. Andrew’s Church, the Baptist church, the school, the Institute (now a memorial garden in front of the school) and the Sunday School (now the Johnson Hall).


These are some of the more interesting entries.


Mrs. Towers lived in a caravan in Bar Lane.


Lucy Ann Steel, a 56 year old spinster  who lived in London Rd. was in receipt of a pension having worked in Queen Victoria’s household.


Harry Leader who also lived in London Rd. was a retired gold miner.


Elizabeth Short had private means and lived in The Grove with her daughter.


John Linton lived in Stapleford House  with his wife and two young children. He had private means and had a live-in nurse for the children, a cook and housemaid.


Kerelea Cobham Edwards was a 33 year old surgeon who lived in The Chestnuts with his wife, a cook and a house maid.


William Armistead was the Medical Officer of Health for the Combined District and lived in Church St. with his wife and also had a cook and a housemaid. The house would have been in the part of Church St. which is now known as Mingle Lane.


Ernest Chaston also lived in this part of Church St. with his wife and a servant. He owned a flour mill next to the station in Great Shelford in which two Stapleford men also worked. This site is now occupied by office blocks.


The vicar, the Rev. Hawes, lived in the vicarage with his wife and two teenage children and he too, could afford two servants.


Harold and Rowena Gray lived in Gog Magog House and on the day of the census four visitors were staying.They were waited on by 11 servants headed by a housekeeper and a butler. Other employees such a a bailiff, farm manager, gamekeeper, a maintenance man, numerous gardeners and farm workers lived-in the area known as Gog Magog Hills and Magog Cottages.


According to the 1901 Ordnance Survey map Fox Hill was a hill covered by a small wood. By 1911 the celebrated Arts and Crafts architect Edward Lutyens had built Middle Field for Henry Bond a university lecturer. On the day of the census he and his wife were not at home but had left their two young children in the care of their five servants. Charles Myers was another university lecturer with three children under six and they had no fewer than eight live-in servants fulfilling different roles. including a nursemaid and two nurses. A third university lecturer, Hugh Anderson, had three live-in servants. Four other families lived lived in cottages at Fox Hill. Two were coachmen and two were gardeners. Presumably they all worked for the university lecturers.


In 1908 old age pensions were paid for the first time. At that time life expectancy for women was 52 and for men it was 49. This led to the acceptance that anyone who lived to ‘three score and ten’ had lived to a good age. In fact, 27 men and women in Stapleford were 70 or older. The oldest being 87 year old Anne Coote who lived in Bar Lane. Some took their old age pension of 7/6s but others continued to work. Twenty seven over 70s in a population of 501 was far higher than the average for the country.


The rural nature of the village can be seen in the employment  figures. Five men classed themselves as farmers, there were two shepherds, a cowman and 44 farm labourers. Twenty one men in the village worked as gardeners and two worked on the golf course.


Twenty two men in the village worked with horses. There were stable boys, grooms for racing horses and coachmen but most worked with farm horses. Harry Skipper of London Rd. was a cycle agent and could see where the future lay so three of his sons were motor mechanics.


A bricklayer, a carpenter, several general builders and two blacksmiths helped to make the village self sufficient.


There were six men who, today, would be considered as belonging to the professional class: the vicar, the three lecturers and the two medical men. Seven men and women didn’t work and said they had ‘private means.’


There were 42 children aged five and under and 69 children of school age i.e. under 13.  At the time Stapleford School was an all age school with children divided into just two classes: infants and seniors. The official leaving age was 13 but part time schooling was allowed so that boys could do farm work.


The Ransom family ran The Three Horseshoes pub and James Howland was the publican for The Rose and was also a wheelwright. The Beavis family were coal merchants.


Nearly all the single women were in service either as live-in servants or maids who worked in local houses but there were also two dressmakers, a soap maker and two charwomen. After marriage women stopped working except for one or two who helped their shopkeeper husbands.There were 2 butchers, a draper, a post office and greengrocer.


Keith Dixon