In 1973 a notebook was discovered in the records stored in the parish chest of St Mary’s, Goudhurst inscribed: Daniel West, Census Return for 1811.

A separate page noted that it was the Number of Inhabitants in the parish of Goudhurst taken [–] By Daniel West on 27th May & following Days, Anno Domini 1811.

The first population census was undertaken in 1801 and, apart from the 1941, have been taken every ten years since then. The very early census (pre 1841) were only intended as a count of the population and did not record details of individuals. However, in order to provide the statistical information needed by the government some form of note book would needed to have been kept by the person doing the count and it is Daniel West’s 1811 notebook which as survived for Goudhurst.

The questions that needed answers in 1811 were:
1. How many inhabited houses are there in your parish, township or place; by how many families are they occupied; and how many houses therein are uninhabited?
2. How many houses are now building, and not yet inhabited?
3. How many other houses are uninhabited?
4. What number of families in your parish, township or place, are chiefly employed in and maintained by agriculture; how many families are chiefly employed in and maintained by trade, manufacture or handicraft; and how many families are not comprized in either of the two preceding classes?
5. How many persons (including children of whatever age) are there actually found within the limits of your parish, township, or place, at the time of taking this account, distinguishing males and females, and exclusive of men actually serving in his majesty’s regular forces or the old militia, or any embodied local militia, and exclusive of seamen either in his majesty’s service or belonging to registered vessels?
6. Referring to the number of persons in 1801, to what cause do you attribute any remarkable difference in the number at present?
7. Are there any matters which you think it necessary to remark in explanation of your answers to any of the preceding questions?

In order to answer the above West divided each page in the notebook into ten columns. Headed as follows:

• Inhabited houses: in this column are recorded the surname(s) of the family or families
• Number of families:
• Number of families employed in agriculture
• Trade:
• Other:
• Males:
• Females:
• Blank column:
• Total: this column contains the total figure from the Males + Females columns.

The links below will open as PDFs.

Partial Transcript: 1811 Census – Goudhurst                Photocopy of Daniel West’s notebook

Please be aware of the following:
• The Local History Society only has a photocopy of the original and has no other information about it.
• (The original notebook was deposited at the Kent Library and History Centre – ref: P157/18/1)
• Daniel West’s writing is hard to read (hence the partial transcript) and it seems that he may have abbreviated some of the surnames, e.g. Barth, for Bartholomew.
• No addresses are given
• West did not always total all his columns. Where necessary the transcript shows such totals in red italics.
• The total in the first column (inhabited houses) is the number of families listed not the number of occupants.