The 1841 Census

The census population increased by 155 from the previous one in 1831. There are no previous occupations of inhabitants to compare. Those employed in agriculture from the census reveals 16 farmers employing 95 males servants or farm labourers with 14 female farm labourers. The names of the farmers accords with those recorded in the Tithe Map Apportionment of 1841.

The number of general labourers was 40, but they have no designation of work. Listed in the census is one railway contractor and nine excavators working on the first line, tunnels and cuttings of the new London to Brighton Railway all based in the south west corner of the parish in the Copyhold area. The marriage register of St. Peter’s, Ardingly for 1840 records a William Richardson of Copyhold House, Copyhold Lane, a railway contractor marrying Mary Sears. Copyhold House of some importance still stands within 400 yards of the main railway cutting and bridge. At the nearby Copyhold farm a Mr. Jeffrey is listed with five other excavator lodgers. The farm must have been requisitioned for no other occupants are listed. Other cottages are mentioned in the neighbourhood occupied by labourers, carpenters, bricklayers and labourers. They account for 59 of the increase in population of Ardingly.

There was quite a spread of other occupations:- ten carpenters, three cordwainers, a miller, hoop maker, gamekeeper, land surveyor (possibly connected with the Tithe survey), a bailiff, wheelwright, smith, grocer, butcher, draper, gardener, clerk, inn keeper, ostler, three tailors, two bricklayers and five sawyers. There are three male servants and nine female servants mentioned ; three at the Rectory, three at Town House, six at Knowles farm, whilst the only large house in the Parish, Wakehurst Place is described as uninhabited.

The unoccupied Wakehurst Place seemed to have little influence on the parish at this time. Lands and farms had been bought to make Wakehurst the largest estate in its history, then mostly to be sold again. The owner was a John Joseph Wakehurst Peyton who at the age of twenty years had married Marrianne Gilberta, daughter of Sir East Gilbert Clayton-East, bart. They lived at The Grove, Turners Hill, which had just been added to the Wakehurst Estate with other nearby properties. It was at the Grove that their son John East Hunter Peyton was born. He was the last Peyton owner of Wakehurst. One of the few connections with the parish of Ardingly was that in 1848 Marrianne Gilberta Peyton, widow, was persuaded to sell a plot of land of 75 perches for the sum of £29 10s 0d., to the rector of Ardingly for the building of a National School with a house for the school master or school mistress.(1) Locals say the stone for the school came from Philpots Quarry in West Hoathly some four miles to the east but the census does not record any carters. It is more likely that the stone came from a number of small quarries in Street Lane and West Hill close by. The remains of these quarries can still be seen to-day.

Thomas Malthus in his essay on the Principle of Populations(2) hypothesised that populations progress mathematically and double themselves every 25 years if left to themselves in perfect freedom. He goes on to emphasise that food supply and the territory may well limit population. Ardingly’s population did not double itself in the first thirty years of the census for it only increased by 236 or 46%. Poor wages and poverty probably limited Ardingly’s growth.

Like the rest of the country in the 1830’s and l840’s it was a time of unrest. Swing Riots, battling with the rector over tithes especially his tithe collector did not help. In the past the Parish Overseers of the Poor accounts (3) show a number in the Parish Workhouse situated opposite to the rectory and on average twelve children put out to farmers. The 1841 census reveals no paupers who if any were probably in the New Work House Union at Cuckfield. A later census at this workhouse only reveals five inmates from Ardingly. There were a small number of schools in the parish in the early 1800’s. The Church accounts(3) of 1814 note that Richard Williams was paid £1 for school instruments. The 1831 census records one fee paying school for 10 boys and l4 girls and two Sunday Schools run by Dissenters in 1822 for 32 boys and 52 girls. The Parish church establishes a National School a little later. In addition Pigots Directory of l828 notes a William Attree running an Acadamie(4) at the Greyhound Inn and the 1839 edition an Elizabeth Attree also runs an Acadamie. The children’s population rises with the railway people to a small extent and more so with the indigenous population.

The 1841 census shows an increase in population of 155 from 1831 due partially to the temporary railway people and the rest to a natural progression. The increase in children under the age of twelve is 34% of the population and even though times were hard, and with an absent landlord at Wakehurst, Ardingly did manage to sustain itself. The harsh system of the tithes had been sorted out and many families grew their own food on the allotments in Street Lane and in their gardens.

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  1. G. Loder. Wakehurst Place; Private publication 1907
  2. Thomas Malthus. An Essay on the Principles of Population; Penguin 1970 p74
  3. Church Chest
  4. Pigots Directories in Crawley Reference Library