The 1881 Census in Sussex

As some readers will be aware, a major project was recently undertaken by the Church of Latter Day Saints to index and publish the 1881 census returns for the United Kingdom. This has produced an extremely useful resource for family historians, in that we now have a complete, and comprehensively indexed, set of data for that year. In fact the entries are indexed in a four ways, by surname, by birthplace, by census place and finally as enumerated.

As a formally constituted family history society, the Lin(d)field One Name Group is allowed to purchase copies of the microfiche index and we have now bought the set for Sussex. As luck would have it, the other counties which contain significant numbers of Lin(d)fields at that time, are among the larger counties in terms of population and are therefore much more expensive sets of fiche. We will collect the data from those in due course using copies at local and national archives. I have made a start on that process by obtaining copies of the relevant pages from the surname indexes for Kent, Middlesex and Lancashire.

To return to the Sussex data, I have now entered all of the surname index information into a computer spreadsheet, which allows us to sort the entries automatically and to print them out in various formats as required. The total number in Sussex is 381, made up of 248 of the Lindfield spelling and 133 shown as Linfield. Perhaps surprisingly, there are no Linkfield, Lingfield, Linville or similar names.

For those members who are interested in such things, the data is held in an Excel spreadsheet, and I am happy to make a copy on disc for anyone who wants one for research purposes. There is clearly a lot of scope for analysing the information, in terms of the wealth of demographic data it contains. It would be fascinating, for example, to examine the location, occupations, family sizes and other aspects, as they relate to our family names.

Another related project has been started by Geoff Riggs of the Guild of One Name Studies who is collating statistics for the number of occurrences of various surnames in the 1881 census year. When we have completed our search of the 1881 entries, we will be sending the county totals to Geoff for entry into his database. In return, we will receive a map showing the distribution around the country.

When all the data has been collected and entered into the spreadsheet, we hope to publish it in book form, as well as making it available as a computer based resource.

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