The 1901 Census
By Andrew Sefton
The Census took place on the 31st March 1901 throughout the whole country, but this article is about just the Parish of Bishop Wilton. The census takes place every 10 years and is a snapshot in time of how the village used to be. The 1901 census is the latest one we have access to because of the 100 year privacy rule. The census lists the names, ages, occupations and places of birth of people who lived in the parish. It gives details of the kind of property they lived in, but as house numbers for addresses did not arrive until much later, it is difficult to be precise about exactly where they lived. In 1901 the census tells us there were 451 people living in the village, there were 106 inhabited houses, 2 houses inhabited but not in occupation, and 20 houses uninhabited not in occupation. There were 51 tenements of less than 5 rooms and 231 Males and 220 Females.
Bishop Wilton’s oldest resident male was in fact the vicar, John Adams Eldridge, who was living in the parsonage house near the church gates (the present vicarage was not built until 1906) and was 86. The oldest lady resident was Mary Surridge who was listed as a boarder on parish pay, age 87. The schoolmaster was Harry Bramley who was 45 and born in Nottingham; the school must have been very active with 60 children in the parish listed as at school. Farming was the main occupation with 20 giving their main occupation as a farmer but with many more employed on the land. Occupations such as Waggoners, Stockmen, shepherds, and agricultural labourers were very common. Some farms employed many people, the largest employers being the wold farms such as Callis Wold. The old manor house (The Hall) was listed as unoccupied and therefore must have been present in 1901.
There were two public Houses; the landlord of the Fleece Inn was in fact a lady, Sophia Elsworth aged 59, listed as a widow and born in Bath, Somerset. The Cross Keys Inn was also listed as a Blacksmith’s shop and was run by George Bailey, age 28, whose occupation is listed as an Innkeeper and Blacksmith. There was also another blacksmith’s shop in the village run by Thomas Fletcher age 40 from Hovingham.
The Policeman was John Frederick Harrison who lived in the present number 96 near the church gates; next door was one of three butchers in the village, James Robson, who had his butcher’s shop in the present day Mosquito Cottage. Another butcher listed is Nancy Hutchinson and Henry Newby’s grandfather, James Newby, aged 53, listed as a butcher and farmer born in Great Givendale. Also shown on the census is Nancy and Henry’s father John Henry Newby who in 1901 was age 12 and attending school.
By 1901 Matthew Ripley, age 38, had arrived in Bishop Wilton with his Threshing Machine business which he established in 1891. His son Alan who eventually carried on the business in later years and established the garage in the village was listed as 9 years old and attending school. [Matthew & Alan are pictured here outside Wembley Garage]
W.L. Fisher did not seem to be in the village at this time; the blacksmiths were Thomas Fletcher and George Bailey who ran the Cross Keys. The blacksmith’s business must have been on the same site from which W.L. Fisher ran their blacksmith business in later times. The Cross Keys was located close to the site of the Blacksmith’s shop.
Many women were in domestic service but some were more independent; such as the publican and the dressmaker; however the only hairdresser in the village was a man!
Other occupations included Charles Cullum (pictured here) who was listed as a journeyman bootmaker aged 23 and lived his life in Bishop Wilton as a Cordwainer in the old cottages which were on the site of Lorna Sleightholme’s present house. Rat Catchers and Rabbit catchers were in full time employ, as was a varmint killer which I presume was another rat catcher. There must have been a lot of rats around in 1901! Perhaps the most interesting occupation listed is Operatic Vocalist and Poultry keeper!