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You are here: Information & HistoryFamily History - Census

Family History Introduction
Data Base
School Records
Family History - Census

Census Records and Statistical Accounts
Both of these resources have been invaluable in researching the varied and sometimes unusual trades associated with employment in the old parish of Stonehouse, formerly including Sandford.

Although there are several more census years available through the services of the Heritage Group, I concentrated my investigations on the census years 1841, 1881 and 1891.

The 1696 parish census by Rev. Archilbald Foyer does not provide information on the employment of residents, at a time when most of the population were recorded as living outwith the village, on the outlying farm steadings. The 1696 census only provides the names of farms, but not the names of the streets in the village, which contained only 272 inhabitants (street names were only formalised in the mid 19th century). However, it is possible to establish family groups. Some parochial records did not record individuals because they were seceders. Rev. William Taylor was father to nine children, seven of which were probably born in Stonehouse, yet none are recorded as such, on the parochial registrar.

In compiling the data from the original source material, deciphering the names can be extremely difficult due to the legibility of the authors scribe and his understanding of how to spell the family names resident in the household. The individuals who recorded the census (often the parish minister prior to 1801) would record the residents name as they sounded, e.g. Campbell as Campbol or Paterson as Patirson etc. It is, therefore, important to keep this in mind when trying to translate the information. It is also the case that the ‘Enumerators’ (census recorders) were only able to record the information as intimated by those present in the dwelling. The inhabitants were often illiterate and unable to check what had been written on their behalf.

In Scotland, census records have been taken every ten years since 1801, but it is only since 1841, that genealogists and historical researchers have been able to attain facts from the census other than the names of residents inhabiting their particular town. As detailed in the examples taken from the 1841 census, the enumerator compiled, information on the street or farm, name of occupier, occupation, age and birth place of every individual. However, in contrast to later census, the status and relationship of the individuals were not recorded. This makes the identification of family groups more difficult in attempting to trace family ancestors.

In recording the age of residents in 1841, it must be remembered that these figures are not always accurate. Individuals under 15 years of age were recorded correctly, but most other residents were grouped in multiples of five years after being rounded down. For example, John Brown a lime worker from Sandford, may in fact be 39, but is recorded as 35 years of age. Only by referring to the registrar of births can the individuals details be accurately confirmed. The 1841 census was also inaccurate in identifying residents place of birth. This was recorded either as ‘Y’ for born in the parish, ‘N’ for not born in the parish, ‘I’ for born in Ireland, ‘E’ for born in England or ‘F’ for born abroad.

The census enumerators were reliant on the occupiers being in on the day of the recording, otherwise they would not be recorded as being resident in Stonehouse. Thus, natives of Stonehouse, such as, those serving in military service or travelling merchants would not have been recorded. Equally so, residents from other parishes, such as lodgers and travelling salesmen were recorded in our census records.

All census materials are available from the Heritage Group and provide excellent reference material on the varying trades throughout the parish. Other useful resources include the old valuation rolls and the statistical accounts of the parish.

The statistical accounts were usually undertaken by the parish minister and provided a valuable insight into the history of the parish, as well as proving detailed information on the events and characters affecting the parish at the time. Unfortunately the census of recent have not been as informative or researched as ‘passionately’ as formerly undertaken, such as those by Rev. Hugh Dewar (1836), Rev. Morehead (1790) or Rev. Pollock (1950).

Excluding farming, which had always been the predominant occupation, the census show clear trends in employment, from weaving through the 18th and 19th century to nearly a third of men being employed in mining in 1950. Rev. Pollock (1950) intimated a sixth of men were employed by British Rail, only 15 years before its demise in 1965. The closure of the rail service was a devastating blow to the employment opportunities in the community and throughout Lanarkshire. Another prominent employer in the 1950’s was the fruit growing holdings throughout the village. Primarily producing tomatoes and strawberries, 30 of the tenant holdings were under the ownership of the Board of Agriculture, while the other 15 were privately owned.

Today Stonehouse is predominantly a commuter village, in a society increasingly mobile in pursuing employment opportunities. Our roads are dominated by the car, to which we have become ever more dependant due to poor public transport services. Business parks are a common development of the late 20th century and many of our council facilities and domestic requirements are either centralised in the larger towns, or in so called ‘greenbelt’ retail parks. The small independent trader is fast becoming a rarity, as can be evidenced by the decreasing number of shops in the village.

As we enter a new age of technology and science, we have, and shall learn to adapt to the demands of the consumer and industrial development. The challenge ahead is daunting but together as a community we can strive to build on the years of commitment and personal sacrifice our ancestors and local dignitaries strove for, in taking Stonehouse into a new era of science and opportunity.

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