Vol 1 No 6 -What we learn from census returns – Roath 1851

PART 1: ROATH 1851

Background to the Census

Although as early as 1753 an attempt was made to introduce regular censuses of the population there was considerable opposition to the proposals, which served to delay their implementation for nearly 50 years.

The first census took place in 1801 and thereafter a census has been conducted at intervals of ten years with the exception of 1941. The records of the 1931 census were destroyed as the result of enemy action, during the Second World War. The first four censuses (1801 to 1831 inclusive) were no more than a numerical return of the number of houses and male and female inhabitants in each parish, township etc, and enabled the government of the day to ascertain the size and growth ( or decline) of the population at both local and national level.

From 1841 the censuses have been carried out by the office of the Registrar General and from which date each householder has been required to complete a schedule listing certain particulars concerning the occupants of his/her property on a given night.  As the nineteenth century progressed, the activities of central government became more complex with the result that it was necessary to pose detailed questions in the censuses in order to establish population movement, determine the extent and nature of human resources and assess the need to provide public facilities.

In the case of the censuses currently open for inspection the details recorded in the schedules collected by each census enumerator were copied into printed books and it was from these books, covering the entire population, that the Registrar General collated and published summary statistics from which I will later quote.  Although the householders’ schedules were purposefully destroyed, the enumerators books are available for examination (on microfilm) at the Public Record Office, Land Registry Building, Portugal Street, London W.C.2, one hundred years after the census to which they relate; thus those in respect of the censuses of 1841 to 1881 inclusive are open to public scrutiny.

Many County Record Offices and libraries have acquired copies of the microfilms covering the area they serve and this is true of the Glamorgan Record Office, the Library of University College, Cardiff and the Cardiff Central Library.  Several years ago the Roath Local History Society obtained Xerox prints taken from the microfilms of that part of the 1851 and 1861 censuses relating to the parish of Roath and last year the Society acquired Xerox copies taken from the 1871 Census.

The census conducted 7 June 1841 was not as informative as those for 1851 to 1881 inclusive, because:

(1) very few streets were numbered.

(2) relationships to head of household were not stated.

(3) matrimonial status was not given.

(4) ages of persons over 15 years were rounded down to the nearest five years and the ages of those over 60 years were often rounded down to the nearest 10 years, and

(5) birthplace was simply indicated by “Yes” if born in the same county; “No” if born elsewhere in England or Wales, while those born in Scotland, Ireland, etc., were described as such.


The information provided in the censuses taken 30 March 1851, 7 April 1861, 2 April 1871 and 3 April 1881 may be summarised thus:-

(1) Name of place enumerated and whether hamlet, village, town or borough.

(2) Number or name of house and its street or road

(3) Names of persons present on census night

(4) Relationship of each person to head of household

(5) Matrimonial status

(6) Age and sex

(7) Rank, profession or occupation

(8) Birthplace (England and Wales by place and county, but generally country only for those born elsewhere).

(9) Whether blind, deaf or dumb (1871 and 1881 censuses included whether an imbecile, idiot or lunatic).


The Project

It has long been recognised that the censuses taken in the nineteenth century provide a unique insight into the nature and composition of Victorian society.  With this in mind, the Roath L.H.S. during winter 1982 and spring 1983 devoted its weekly project meetings to a detailed extraction and analysis of the 1851 and 1861 census material for the parish of Roath.  The remainder of this article is devoted principally to the Society’s findings in relation to the 1851 census, while a future article will deal with the 1861 census. The 1871 census is being analysed at our current project meetings and the findings will be presented at a later date. The 1841 census is too small to justify group project work but the Editor has included some notes in this issue.

One of the Society’s objectives is to present through the medium of its Project Newsletters a description of the changing face of Roath over the thirty year period 1841 to 1871 by particular examination of the following aspects:-

(1) growth of population.

(2) housing development

(3) occupation structure

(4) places of birth

(5) age and sex structure


Growth of Population in Roath

Summary statistics of the first eleven censuses.

 Year Population Percentage increase or decrease on previous census
1801 236
1811 211 -10.6
1821 269 +27.5
1831 272 +1.1
1841 298 9.6
1851 292* -2
1861 3044 +942 .5
1871 7986 +162 .4
1881 23096 +189.2
1891 39657 +71.7
1901 61074 +54.0

* excludes 102 military and their families residing in Longcross Barracks and takes account of the fact that in his summary the enumerator overstated the population of the parish by 20 persons.


Using the summary statistics, it is possible to discern the imbalance in the population between males and females, thus:-

Year Males Females Total Excess males over females Excess females over males
1801 103 133 236 30
1811 92 119 211 27
1821 125 144 269 19
1831 130 142 272 12
1841 159 139 298 20
1851 134 158 292 24


Why the 1841 Census should show an excess of males over females whereas in every other census to 1851 there was an excess of females over males is uncertain. Possibly Roath had recovered from the known depressed state of agriculture in the 1830’s with a resultant surge of labourers into the parish.

The fluctuations in the level of Roath’s population between 1801 and 1851 pales into insignificance compared with the increase which took place in the period 1851 to 1861 and continued to the turn of the century.

The Society, as a primary objective, paid particular attention to the censuses of 1851 and 1861 as the first provides a view of Roath immediately prior to the initial impact of urbanisation while the second provides a view of the parish within a few years of the establishment of an urbanised community in that part of Roath between

(1) City Road (then Plwcca Lane) and Oakfield Street, and

(2) Cardiff Royal Infirmary (site of Longcross Barracks) and Constellation Street.

The 1871 census, which is still being analysed, is likely to reflect the virtual obliteration of Roath’s identity as an agrarian community.


Housing Development

In 1851 the Parish of Roath comprised a single registration district, the enumerator being one Thomas Evans.

The only named road in the parish was Plwcca Lane (spelt ‘Pluca” by the enumerator), which comprised six houses plus one under construction.  These houses were occupied by the following employed persons :-

Name Age Occupation
John Francis 32 Coal heaver
William Price 18 Boatman
Patrick Dugan 19 Boatman
Edward Davies 28 Painter
Thomas Lewis 39 Coal heaver
Elizabeth Lewis 41 Laundress
Jane Llewellyn 19 Laundress
William H Woodham 23 Gardener
William Porter 37 Agric.labourer
Richard Cook 27 Agric.labourer
William Provin 17 Agric.labourer
William Evans 54 Thatcher
Joseph Gibbs 40 Soldier
Ann Mary Gibbs 22 Dressmaker
William Wortley 60 Agric.labourer
William Wortley 20 Waggoner
Edward Wortley 17 Agric.labourer
James Taylor 26 Soldier
Thomas Smith 28 Agric.labourer


Six houses were described as comprising the “village” which I take to mean the cluster of small houses around Roath Church. These houses were occupied by the following employed persons:-

Name Age Occupation
David Jones 40 Gardener
Mary Harris 40 House maid
Catherine Howells 41 Cook
William Llewellyn 38 Blacksmith (employing 2 men)
Catherine Catway 15 Apprentice Milliner
Mary Bentley 28 General Servant
Samuel Brooks 22 Journeyman Blacksmith
Lewis Llewellyn 14 Apprentice Blacksmith
James Charles 40 Thrasher
James Charles 18 Waggoner
Morgan David 55 Agric.labourer
Thomas David 23 Haycutter
William Harris 35 Waggoner


The predominant property in the “village” was “Village House”, the chief occupant being Sarah Williams, a 68 year old widow, described as a Gentlewoman Annuitant and to whom the afore-mentioned David Jones, Mary Harris and Catherine Howells were servants.


The following properties (together with their chief occupiers) were also named in the census:-

Property Name Age Occupation
Mill House Edward Phillips 27 Shepherd
Lower Splott 1. David Thomas 42 Cowman
 (2 separate properties) 2. John Fisher 56 Shepherd
Little Deedger William Richard 61 Gardener
Cythma David James 30 Ag.labr.
Ty y Cue Richard Lewis 53 Ag.labr.
Red House 1. John Leary 24 Freestone Sawyer
(6 separate tenements) 2. Edward Thomsa 40 Ag.labr.
3. Thomas John 69 Army Pensioner
4. Henry Oram 30 Cordwainer (employing 2 men)
5. William Crocker 30 Journeyman Mason
6. Anne Gale 51 Pauper
Four Elms 1. John Harding 61 Gardener
 (4 separate properties) 2. Thomas Jones 27 Waggoner
3. Christopher Douglas 28 Clerk (Taff Vale Railway Co.)
4. Susan Routly 49 Accountant ‘s wife
Ty Draw 1. Charles Vincent 26 Thrasher
 (2 separate properties) 2. Mary Rowland 33 Pauper
Ty-y-Colly Charles Hill 70 Army Pensioner
Pen-y-Lan 1. Noah Bowen 30 Ag.labr.
 (2 separate properties) 2. William Davies 60 Cordwainer
School House Mary Ann Davies 25 School Mistress
Mud House John England 30 Rail Labourer
Castle Lodge Michael Kenefick 46 Clerk (to G.W.C.Jackson of Roath Castle)



Houses of Minor Gentry

Property Name Age Occupation
Adams Down Whitlock Nicholl 68 Magistrate and Distributor of Stamps for County of Glamorgan
Roath Castle George William Collins Jackson 30 Army Captain
Roath Court Charles Crofts Williams 52 Magistrate and Alderman of Cardiff






Property Name Age Occupation
Great Barn Thomas Evans 24 Farmer (20 acres)

Splott Farm


Edward Williams




Farmer’s son (231 acres upland & 239 acres moor employing 10 men




John Evans




Farmer (100 acres upland & 80 acres moor- employing 8 men


White House

Llewellyn Morgan 57 Farmer (110 acres- employing 4 men)

Lower Llwyn-y-Grant

John Thomas 34 Farmer (125 acres- employing 3 men)
Ty-y-coed (sic) Henry Griffin 45 Farmer (97 acres – employing 2 men and 2 boys)
Adams Down Mary Roberts 63 Farmer ‘s wife (220 acres upland 46 acres moor)

Un-named (but identifiable as “Deri Farm’)


Ann Richards




Farmer (40 acres – employing 1 man)


Great House


William Evans




Farmer (303 acres arable & 129 acres moor- employing  14 men and 2 women)


Roath Mill is not specifically mentioned in the enumerator’s book although William Morgan, a 27 year old miller resided within the parish.

In total, there were 65 inhabited houses plus 2 under construction and none were unoccupied.  An average of 4.5 persons occupied each inhabited house (the figure for Cardiff in the same year was 7.2).

The largest household in the parish was that of John Evans, farmer of Pengam and consisted of 13. persons (himself, his wife,2 children, sister-in-law, 2 house servants, a nurse and 5 farm labourers).

The largest employer appears to have been William Evans of the Great House, who, as indicated above engaged the services of 16 people.

Also situated within the parish was the Longcross Barracks which stood on part of the site of the present Cardiff Royal Infirmary.  On 30 March 1851 the Barracks were occupied by 102 persons (79 soldiers, 2 Chelsea pensioners, 11 soldiers’ wives, and 10 soldiers’ children).  Of the 79 soldiers (1 lieutenant, 5 sergeants, 5 corporals, 67 privates and 1 drummer) no less than 54 were born in Ireland, 23 in England and only 2 in Wales (not Glamorgan). None of the soldiers’ wives were born in Wales and only 2 soldiers’ children were born in Roath.  The afore-mentioned children were one month old while another 4 children between the ages of 1 and 3 years were born either in Portsmouth or Newport, Isle of Wight, suggesting that the military had been brought into the parish only very recently and may have been transferred from the Portsmouth area.

The population of the Barracks has been discounted from the statistics presented in this paper since it was an artificially created community within the parish and its inclusion would tend to distort the analysis.



I have already mentioned the occupations of some of the residents of

Roath Parish and now set out below a complete list of all the trades,

professions and occupations mentioned in the 1851 census:-

  • Agricultural labourer (incl. cowman, haycutter, herdsman, thrasher & waggoner)
  • Army
  • Bailiff
  • Blacksmith (incl. apprentice & journeyman)
  • Boatman
  • Butcher
  • Clerk
  • Coachman
  • Coal heaver
  • Cook
  • Cordwainer (incl. apprentice & journeyman)
  • Dairy-maid
  • Dressmaker
  • Farmer
  • Freestone sawyer
  • Gardener
  • Groom
  • Haulier
  • Housekeeper
  • Jeweller
  • Laundress
  • Magistrate
  • Mason (journeyman )
  • Milkman
  • Milkwoman
  • Miller
  • Milliner (apprentice)
  • Nurse
  • Painter
  • Rail labourer
  • School mistress
  • Servant (incl. general servant, domestic servant, house servant and housemaid)
  • Shepherd
  • Ship’s carpenter
  • Tea man
  • Thatcher
  • Usher (Free School )



Coal heaver was a dock labourer employed in loading coal.

Cordwainer at this date would have been a shoemaker.

Freestone sawyer was employed in cutting freestone for window sills etc.

Tea man must have been a tea dealer.

Although there are many ways in which occupations may be classified, we have used the broad headings devised by P.M.Tillott in his “Collections for the History of Tickhill”, University of Sheffield Department of Adult Education, 1967.

This analysis together with that of the productive and  non-productive population is as follows:-

No. of persons Percentage
Working population 148 50.3
Visitors 1 0.3
Wives resident with husbands
and having no occupation 39 13.3
Adults (21 years+) having no occupation 23 7.9
Children having no occupation 81 27.6
Independents 2 0.6
Total population 294 100
No. of persons Percentage
Farmers 9 6.2
Agric. Workers 50 34.2
Tradesmen 11 7.5
Craftsmen 13 8.9
Professions 7 4.8
Clerical 2 1.4
Servants 47 32.2
Labourers 5 3.4
Railway 2 1.4
Total working population 146 100


It will be noted that just over one half of Roath’s population was following same occupation (although it is probable that a number of wives, against whom the enumerator recorded no employment, were in fact assisting in their husband’s trade).  Of the working population, nearly 40% were engaged in agriculture and most, if not all, would have worked on the small number of farms located within the parish.  The only other sizeable group is servants (general, domestic & house servants, coachmen, cooks, grooms, housekeepers, housemaids, and nurses), the majority of whom resided in the houses of their employers.  Within this group I have placed daughters employed at home.


As the basis of a future attempt to discern population movements over the 20 year period 1851 to 1871, an analysis by place of birth is set out below:-

No.of persons  Percentage
83 28.4  Roath
32 11  Cardiff
74 25.3  Remainder of Glamorgan
189 64.7  Total for Glamorgan
31 10.6  Monmouthshire
1  –  Breconshire
2  –  Carmarthenshire
7  –  Montgomeryshire
10 3.4  Total for remainder of Wales
6  –  Devonshire
1  –  Essex
9  –  Gloucestershire (Incl.4 Bristol )
1  –  Hampshire
2  –  Herefordshire
1  –  Lancashire
2  –  London
1  –  Norfolk
1  –  Northamptonshire
12  – Somersetshire
1  –  Surrey
1  –  Sussex
1  – Warwickshire
15  –  Wiltshire
2  –  Yorkshire
56 19.2  Total for English Counties
4  –  Ireland
2  –  Foreign Countries
6 2.1  Total for Foreign Countries
292 100   Grand Total




At Appendix 1. I have analysed the places of birth within Glamorganshire (excluding Roath & Cardiff).

The fact that approximately 75% of Roath’s population was born within the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth is perhaps an indication of the limited mobility between essentially agrarian communities during the first half of the 19th century.  Readers may find it surprising that notwithstanding the small net increase (23 persons) in Roath’s population between 1821 and 1851, less than 30% of residents were born within the parish, thereby suggesting a substantial flow of individuals to and from places not far distant (this aspect has been confirmed by an examination of the parish registers for Roath and will be the subject of a future article).

It will be noted that an abnormally high number of persons were born in the English counties of Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire.  Gloucestershire is easily explained since four of the nine persons concerned were born in Bristol, a city with which South Wales had important commercial connections over a number of centuries.  The majority of employed persons born in Wiltshire were engaged in agriculture while those born in Somerset were engaged in a variety of occupations, thus:-

Somerset  Wiltshire
1 Apprentice milliner  5 Agric. labourers
1 Agric. labourer  1 Farmer
1 Freestone sawyer  2 Gardeners
1 Groom  1 Herdsman
1 House servant  1 Waggoner
1 Journeyman cordwainer
1 Journeyman mason
1 Nurse
1 Rail labourer
1 Thrasher


It remains to be seen whether the 1861 and 1871 censuses reveal a continuing flow of persons from the aforementioned counties.

Those persons born outside England and Wales were as follows:-

Jessie Ellis  Dairy maid
Michael Kenefick  Clerk (to G.W.C. Jackson of Roath Castle)
Whitlock Nicholl  Magistrate & Distributor of Stamps for County of Glamorgan
Ellen Turney  House servant
George William Collins Jackson  Army captain
Mary Taylor  Soldier’s wife




I have prepared at Appendix 2 a “pyramid” graph depicting the age and sex structure of the parish, the vertical axis representing five year bands and the horizontal axis percentages of total population.  Males are represented to the left and females to the right of the central vertical line.

Perhaps the aspect that strikes the eye is the fact that a few people were living to a good age. The eldest male in the parish was William Prosser, an 85 year old retired mason, while the oldest female was Ann Edmund, a 78 year old pauper, formerly a cook.

Although the significance of the information contained in the pyramid graph will become apparent when a direct comparison is made with the graphs relating to the 1861 and 1871 censuses, I would observe that the initial examination of the later censuses suggests that in 1851 there was a comparatively low number of children under the age of 15 years; it remains to be seen whether the reasons for this situation (e.g. economic factors or disease) can be identified.

Appendix 3 is a transcript of a typical page taken from the enumerator “s book covering Roath parish.





The Enumeration District coincided with the parish.

Area: 3500 acres.

No. of houses:

(a) inhabited            60

(b) uninhabited        –

(c) building                –

Total:                       60


(a) male                 159

(b) female             139

Total:                     298

The named properties are: Roath Court, Adamsdown, Plasnewydd, Longcross House, Splott House, Great House, Great Barn, Mill, Llwyn-y-Grant, Roath Cottage, Dairy Farm, Pengam House, Gurnon Cottage, Ty n-y-coed, Adamsdown Farmhouse, Castle Lodge, Lower Splott, Four Elms, Little Longcross, Cimtha and Ty Gwyn.


Occupations: (if more than 1, number is given in brackets):

Farmers (7); Shepherds (3); Gardeners (2); Market Gardener; Agric. labourers/labourers (41); Servants employed by farmers;(20 male, 30 female); Dairy-women (2) Agent; Butler; Groom; Housekeepers (3); Steward; Washwomen (2); School mistress; Butcher; Victualler; Smith; Shipwright; Shoemaker; Tailor; Miller; Clerk; Mariner; Clergyman.

There are 18 adults whose occupation is not stated, the remainder of the population being made up of:-

Scholars (age 6 – 14)….. 49,

Infants (under 5)…….. 29

Pensioners (2); Boarders (2); Independent (9); Elderly (2); Gentry sons (2); Wives (39); Other adult females (20)




1851 Census of Roath. Analysis of places of birth within Glamorgan (Excluding Roath and Cardiff)

No. of persons Places
1 Aberavon
2 Aberdare
1 Cadoxton
1 Caerphilly
1 Cogan
1 Coity
2 Coulston
1 Coychurch
1 Dinas Powis
2 Eglwysilan
1 Lisvane
2 Llanblethian
1 Llanbradach
3 Llandaf
3 Llanedeyrn
2 Llanishen
4 Llantrisant
1 Llantrithyd
2 Llantwit Fardre
1 Llantwit Major
1 Penllyn
4 Pentyrch
2 Peterston-super-Ely
9 Rumney
1 St.Andrews Major
7 St.Fagans
1 St.Georges-super-Ely
2 St.Nicholas
2 Sully
1 Tythegston
1 Welsh St Donats
2 Wenvoe
8 Whitchurch
Total: 74


Appendix 2

Vol 1 No 6 Appendix 3