Population

Mapping Population

Use the map selector to access all available maps of Population, or just choose one of these:


We let you look at total population in two ways.

Firstly, population density: which areas had the most people? Density is calculated as the number of people per hectare, and we have measured areas from a modern digital map of the local authorities rather than relying on the doubtful acreages given in historical reports. Secondly, growth rates: where was population rising fastest, or declining? We also look at the ratio of men to women.

This theme also covers people's ages. From 1851 onwards, the census has provided very detailed statistics of age structure, giving numbers of males and of females in each 5-year age band. However, we simplify this here to three broad age groups: Children (0-14), Working Age (15-64) and the Elderly (over 65).

Over the last 150 years, our population has clearly aged. However, mortality decline in the late 19th century was mainly due to the reduction of very high infant mortality rates: the presence or absence of large number of infants dying before their first birthday had little effect on overall age structures. During the twentieth century, declining fertility and improved life expectancy in later life significantly changed age structures.

All available maps for the theme Population

Select a particular date to choose a combination of rate, unit type and date.

District/Unitary Authority Government Office Region Administrative County Ancient County Ancient District Local Government District Parish-level Unit Poor Law/Registration County Poor Law/Registration Division Poor Law Union/Reg. District Registration sub-District Sanitary District Scottish Burgh/District Scottish County Scottish Parish
Percentage aged under 15 1861 - 2011
1861 - 2011
1911 - 1961
N/A N/A 1911 - 1961
N/A 1851 - 1911
1891
1851 - 1911
1851 - 1881
1891
1881 - 1971
1851 - 1971
1911
Percentage aged 15-64 1861 - 2011
1861 - 2011
1911 - 1961
N/A N/A 1911 - 1961
N/A 1851 - 1911
1891
1851 - 1911
1851 - 1881
1891
1881 - 1971
1851 - 1971
1911
Percentage Aged over 65 1861 - 2011
1861 - 2011
1911 - 1961
N/A N/A 1911 - 1961
N/A 1851 - 1911
1891
1851 - 1911
1851 - 1881
1891
1881 - 1971
1851 - 1971
1911
Rate of Population Change (% over previous 10 years) 1811 - 2001
1811 - 2001
1911 - 1961
1811 - 1851
N/A 1911 - 1961
1811 - 1961
1811 - 1911
N/A 1811 - 1911
1811 - 1911
N/A N/A N/A N/A
Population Density (Persons per Acre) N/A N/A 1911 - 1961
1831 - 1851
1831
1911 - 1961
1831 - 1961
1851 - 1911
N/A 1851 - 1911
1851 - 1911
N/A 1921 - 1951
1911 - 1951
1911 - 1951
Population Density (Persons per Hectare) 1801 - 2011
1801 - 2011
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Redistricted data on Population

These notes concern the historical statistics for modern local authorities, which have been created for Vision of Britain by re-districting statistics originally reported for other units. We have also had to deal with variations in the categories and classifications used in statistical reporting over the years.

  • 1801-1851: The earliest censuses were head counts supplied by parish priests, rather than being based on house-by-house surveys, so we can list only the total population broken down by gender. The early reports are also somewhat confused, so we are fortunate that the 1851 census published a systematic parish-level listing including data from all earlier censuses: our redistricted data for 1801-41 for England and Wales, and 1801-51 for Scotland, is entirely based on the table 'Parishes - Area; houses, 1841, 1851; Inhabitants, 1801, 1811, 1821, 1831, 1841, 1851' in Census of Great Britain, 1851. Population tables. I. Numbers of the Inhabitants, in the years 1801, 1811, 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851., Vol. II.
  • 1851: The original 1851 age structure data for England and Wales are for Registration Districts and come from the divisional tables in Volume II, Part II of the 1851 Census Report, Ages, Civil Condition, Occupations, and Birth-Place of the People, BPP 1852-3 LXXXVIII. Currently no age structure data are available for Scotland.
  • 1861: Data for England and Wales redistricted from table 2, 'Ages of Males and Females enumerated April 8th, 1861 - in Superintendent Registrars' Districts' in each of the sets of divisional tables of Volume II of the 1861 Census Report, Ages, Civil Condition, Occupations, and Birth-Places of the People, BPP 1863 LIII Pts. I and II [C.5597]. Scottish county totals are taken from the table "Ages of the people of Scotland, and its Registration Divisions, in 1861" on pp.1-3 of "Abstracts: Ages of the people" within Census of Scotland 1861: Report Volume II., Ages, Civil or Conjugal Condition, Occupations, and Birth places of the People in Scotland. Additional data for town districts were then added from "Ages of the people in the Towns, or Town Districts, of Scotland, according to the Registration Districts, arranged Alphabetically." on p. 58 of the same volume. In constructing these data we linked data for selected urban Registration Districts to a GIS of approximate burgh boundaries, so the results are inevitably approximate.
  • 1881: England and Wales data redistricted from table 2, 'Ages of Males and Females in Registration Districts' in each of the sets of divisional tables in Volume III of the 1881 Census Report, Ages, Condition as to Marriage, Occupations, and Birth Places of the People, BPP 1883 LXXX [C.3722]. Age structures for Scottish counties are from the table "Ages of the People, in quinquennial periods, in the Registration Counties of Scotland in 1881" on pp. 4-5 of Population, Scotland, Vol. II, Section XI, "Ages of the people". All data are from Population, Scotland, Vol. II, Section XI, "Ages of the people", while data for selected burghs come from the table "Ages of males and females in each of the burghs having populations of 10,000 and upwards", on pp. 72-3 of the same report (where there was a choice, we avoided data for Parliamentary burghs). These data were then re-districted using a specially built GIS of county boundaries and approximate boundaries for these selected burghs.
  • 1891: Data for England and Wales redistricted from table 2, 'Ages of Males and Females in Registration Districts' in each of the sets of divisional tables in Volume III of the 1891 Census Report, Ages, Condition as to Marriage, Occupations, Birth Places and Infirmities, BPP 1893-4 CVI [C.7058]. Currently no data are available for Scotland .
  • 1911: England and Wales redistricted from table 8, "Ages of Persons, Males and Females at each year of age under 21 and in Quninquennial Age-Groups in each Administrative County (inclusive and exclusive of County Boroughs), of County Boroughs, and of Rural Districts. Also Ages of Males and Females in each County Borough, Municipal Borough, other Urban District and Rural District, 1911", pp.15-201 in Volume VII of the 1911 Census Report, Ages and Condition as to Marriage [Cd.6610]. Data for Scotland redistricted from table 20A in each of the separate County Reports of the 1911 Census of Scotland, "Population of the county and its civil parishes by sex and conjugal condition in quinquennial age-groups".
  • 1921: Data for England and Wales are redistricted from tables 14 and 14A, "Ages (Quinquennial groups) and marital condition" in each of the County Reports of the 1921 Census (computerisation of these data was funded by the Population Investigation Committee); however, for now we include only overall totals for compatibility with Scottish data.. We currently include for Scotland only total numbers of persons, males and females, using data not from the 1921 reports but the figures for burghs and Districts of County in 1921 listed in Table 1 in the County Reports of the 1931 Census of Scotland, "Population of Burghs, Districts of County and Parishes".
  • 1931: Data for England and Wales redistricted from tables 14 and 15, "Ages (Grouped) by marital condition" in each of the County Reports of the 1931 Census (computerisation of these data was funded by the Population Investigation Committee). Data for Scotland based on table 21, "Quinquennial Age-Groups and Conjugal Condition" in the Scottish 1931 County Reports, the original listing covering burghs and Districts of County.
  • 1951: The original data for the local government districts of England and Wales come from table 21, "Ages (quinary) by Marital Condition", for Administrative Counties, County Boroughs and Urban Areas with 50,000 population or more, and from table 22, "Ages (quinary) and Marital Condition", for urban centres of less than 50,000 and Rural Districts, in each of the County Reports of the 1951 Census (Funding for this work was provided by the JISC 'Knowledge Gallery' initiative). Data for Scottish burghs and Districts of County come from table 15, "Quinquennial age-groups and Conjugal Condition", in the 1951 Scottish County Reports.
  • 1961: Data for England and Wales from table 6, "Age and Marital Condition -- Local Authority Areas, Conurbation Centres" in each of the County Reports of the 1961 Census (Funding for this work was provided by the JISC 'Knowledge Gallery' initiative). Data for Scotland are from Table 6, "Age and Marital Condition", in the County Reports, covering burghs and Districts of County.
  • 1971: The data for the West Riding of Yorkshire were input from table 8, "Population by sex, age and marital condition" for "County, local authority areas, conurbation centres" in the County Reports of the 1971 census. Currently, data for all other areas of England and Wales were supplied by Danny Dorling, now of the University of Oxford, and are based on aggregating ward-level data from the 1971 Small Area Statistics. However, as these data are for wards as defined in 1981, they were re-scaled so that the total population of each local government district matched the enumerated popultion listed in table 1, "Estimated and resident population" in "Great Britain, England and Wales, regions, conurbations, sub-divisions of regions, counties, urban/rural aggregates, local authority areas, conurbation centres, new towns", in the General Report of the 1971 census. Note that the highest age band listed in the Small Area Statistics is 75 and over. Data for Scotland are from table 8, "Population by sex, age and marital condition" in the 1971 Scottish County Reports.
  • 1981: The original data cover the whole of Great Britain and are for "frozen wards". They are taken from Table 21, "Age and marital status of household residents", in the 1981 Small Area Statistics, and were downloaded from the CASWEB system on 27th December 2016.
  • 1991: The original data again cover the whole of Great Britain and are for frozen 1991 wards. They were extracted from table S02, "Age and marital status: Residents [100%]", in the 1991 Small Area Statistics using the NOMIS online system on 11th June 2016.
  • 2001: The original data cover the whole of Great Britain and are for CAS wards in England, CAS Electoral Divisions in Wales and "Standard Table" Postcode Sectors in Scotland. They were extracted from Table CS001, "Age by Sex and Resident Type" in the 2001 Census Area Statistics and were downloaded from the CASWEB system on 20th February 2017.
  • 2011: Data for England and Wales come from table "DC1104EW - Residence type by sex by age", obtained from ONS Census Marketing on 6th November 2015. Data for Scotland are from table "DC1104SC - Residence type by sex by age" for local Authority areas, from the 2011 Census of Population. The data were downloaded on 17th November 2015 from the "Standard Outputs" section of the Scotland's Census website operated by National Records of Scotland. The original data for 2011 were for local authority areas, so were not redistricted.

These selections from historical census reports are on the theme of Population.

CensusArea CoveredReport TitleSection Title
Intro Great Britain Guide to Census Reports: Great Britain 1801-1966 Selected Subjects: Ages
Intro Great Britain Guide to Census Reports: Great Britain 1801-1966 Selected Subjects: Usual Residence
1811 Great Britain Abstracts of the Answers and Returns: Preliminary Observations Increase of the Population
1821 Great Britain Abstracts of the Answers and Returns: Preliminary Observations Increase of the Population
1831 Great Britain Abstracts of the Answers and Returns: Enumeration. Increase of Population
1841 Great Britain Abstracts of the Answers and Returns: Enumeration. Part I England and Wales with Index to Names of Places at end of each part. Ages and Birth-Places
1841 Great Britain Abstracts of the Answers and Returns: Enumeration. Part I England and Wales with Index to Names of Places at end of each part. Age Abstract
1841 Great Britain Abstracts of the Answers and Returns: Enumeration. Part I England and Wales with Index to Names of Places at end of each part. Estimated Population of England and Wales, 1570-1750
1861 England and Wales General Report Population, Houses and Families
1861 England and Wales General Report Ages of the Population
1861 England and Wales General Report Conjugal Condition of the People
1861 England and Wales General Report Increase of the Population of England and Wales since 1651
1861 England and Wales General Report Laws Regulating the Growth of Nations
1871 England and Wales General Report Population
1871 England and Wales Preliminary Report and Tables of Population and Houses Urban Populations, Sexes, Houses and Families
1881 England and Wales General Report Number of the Population and Rates of Increase
1881 England and Wales General Report Density of the Population and Habitations
1881 England and Wales General Report Sexes
1881 England and Wales General Report Ages
1881 England and Wales General Report Condition as to Marriage, or Civil Condition
1891 England and Wales General Report Population and Rates of Increase
1891 England and Wales General Report Sexes, Ages, and Condition as to Marriage
1901 England and Wales General Report, with Appendices Population and Rates of Increase
1901 England and Wales General Report, with Appendices Sexes, Ages, and Condition as to Marriage
1911 England and Wales General Report with Appendices Population
1911 England and Wales Languages Spoken in Wales and Monmouthsire Local Distribution
1911 England and Wales General Report with Appendices Sexes, Ages, and Condition as to Marriage
1911 Scotland Preliminary Report Population of Scotland
1911 Scotland Population, Ages and Conjugal Condition, Occupations, Birthplaces, Housing, Gaelic-speaking The Population of Scotland
1911 Scotland Population, Ages and Conjugal Condition, Occupations, Birthplaces, Housing, Gaelic-speaking Density of Population
1911 Scotland Preliminary Report Population of the Counties of Scotland
1911 Scotland Population, Ages and Conjugal Condition, Occupations, Birthplaces, Housing, Gaelic-speaking Age Distribution and Conjugal Condition
1911 Scotland Preliminary Report Population of the Burghs of Scotland
1921 England and Wales General Report with Appendices Population
1921 England and Wales General Report with Appendices Sexes, Ages and Marital Conditions
1921 Scotland Preliminary Report Population of Scotland
1921 Scotland Preliminary Report Notes on individual County Populations
1931 Scotland Preliminary Report Population of Scotland: General Summary
1931 Scotland Preliminary Report Notes on individual County Populations
1931 Scotland Preliminary Report Population Tables
1951 Scotland Preliminary Report Population of Scotland: General Summary
1951 Scotland Preliminary Report Notes on individual County Populations