The 1921 census revealed what life was like in Kent 100 years ago.

It’s the first to come out since 2009 and there won’t be another until 2052.

Part of the 1921 census. Photo: Mikael Buck / Findmypast / PA

Jessamy Carlson, an expert in family and local history, explained the importance of this year’s census and what it revealed.

She said: “This census is really interesting because it also included the first records of divorce and children had to report if their parents had died.

“This will also be our last census for a while, the 1931 census was taken but destroyed in a fire in the 1940s.

“The 1941 census obviously did not take place while we were at war, so the next one was taken in 1951, so there will be no further publication for 30 years.”

Specialists at the National Archives have confirmed that the seaside towns of Kent were at their peak during this time, with populations of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate seeing an increase.

Laura Gowing, a Findmypast technician, scanning individual pages of the 30,000 volumes of the 1921 census. Photo: Mikael Buck / Findmypast / PA
Laura Gowing, a Findmypast technician, scanning individual pages of the 30,000 volumes of the 1921 census. Photo: Mikael Buck / Findmypast / PA

Jessamy said: “Like many other seaside resorts, parts of Kent have seen an upsurge in population thanks to the exceptionally good weather that occurred over Census Weekend.

“Broadstairs saw its population increase by 28%, Margate saw a 40.3% increase and Ramsgate by 17.7%, all of this was attributed to seasonal visitors.”

Jessamy continued, “The female to male ratio had increased a bit in Kent, there were up to 1,106 females per 1,000 males.

“Although this was partly affected by World War I, it had been noted long before the war and had been a problem in the general population for some time before.”

This number varied from one department to another. In Herne Bay, 1,594 women were registered per 1,000 men aged 12 and over.

In Royal Tunbridge Wells there were 1,476 women for every 1,000 men, and in Folkestone the figure was 1,387.

It was slightly higher in Margate with 1,390 females compared to males and in Beckenham, 1,353 females per 1,000 males.

She added: “Other areas saw fewer women than men, Cheriton returned only 642 women per 1,000 men, Hoo 793 and Queenborough had 898 women per 1,000 men.”

Jessamy Carlson of the National Archives
Jessamy Carlson of the National Archives

Kent has been noted as a county with more diverse industries and professions compared to all others surrounding London.

Jessamy explained: “The main employer in the county was farming, the most important agricultural job for the men of Kent.

“There were a large number of owners and managers (of businesses) and 25 out of every 1,000 men aged 12 and over were salespeople.”

The Navy was also a popular career path for men at the time, with 30 in 1,000 men aged 12 and over reporting being in the Navy or Marines.

Jessamy concluded: “With the men in the shops, 8% of the women in Kent were salespersons and 5% were teachers.

“Other jobs for women in the county included tenants and housekeepers (4%), but the most common job for women was as a maid (36%).

For the census click here.


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