Introduction to the Ringmer 1871 Census

by Sue Hall

The 1871 census was taken for the night of Saturday/Sunday 2nd/3rd April 1871.  Nationally individual census forms were distributed to all households a couple of days before census night and completed forms were collected during the following days.  All of the details from the individual forms were later sorted and copied by the Enumerators into the Census books which are the original records that can be viewed today. It is very likely that this national format was adopted and complied with by the Enumerators in Ringmer. The transcription has been taken using both photocopies of the Census books from the County Records Office and from on-line access to these records. .Every effort has been made to ensure that this is an accurate transcription. Place names, first and family names have been recorded as spelt on the census records rather than using accepted current day spellings. Also in District 4 abbreviated first names are recorded as shown on the originals. It should be noted that transcription can be made more difficult by old handwriting styles and sometimes illegible writing and, therefore, errors may have been made.

The parish of Ringmer was divided into 3 Enumeration Districts. Each Enumerator wrote the description of their district from the copy supplied to him by the Registrar. Any explanatory notes or observations calculated to make the description clearer or more complete, were added by the Enumerator.  The following extracts are the descriptions of the three Enumeration Districts and are recorded here in their original form and spellings.

Enumeration District 4:  Enumerator Mr William Brown Martin.

“Part of the Parish of Ringmer (South East part) From & including the Ringmer (late) Toll Gate House down the road to Rushy Green taking all the houses on the East Side, up Harrison Lane to the Turnpike road, then up the Turnpike Road as far as Broyle Lane, up Broyle Lane to the Black Gate through the View to the Mount Farm House taking the whole of the Houses on the East side of the Road comprising the Pest House, Broyle Plain, Broyle Place, Railway Inn, Moor Lane, and Ashton Green.”

Enumeration District 5:  Enumerator:  Mr. Charles Washer

“Part of the Parish of Ringmer (South West part) From the site of the late Toll Gate, down the Road to Rushy Green taking all the Houses on the west side up Harrison’s Lane crossing the Turnpike Road up Bishop’s Lane crossing Norlington Lane, round Dodson’s Corner down Church Lane to Park Gate including Park Farm House, Middleham, Union Workhouse, Vicarage, Delves House, the Houses on the Green and the whole of the Houses in the Village.”

Enumeration District 6:  Enumerator:  Mr. George Huntly

“Part of the Parish of Ringmer (North West) From & including Park Gate House, up Church Lane, to Dodson’s Corner; crossing Norlington Lane, down Bishops Lane, taking all the Houses on the North side to the Turnpike Road; up the Turn-Pike road to Broyle Lane; up Broyle Lane to the Black Gate, taking all the Houses on the “West side”, through The View, to Oaklands, taking Plashet Park houses, “Old Ship”, Clay Hill, Swing-gate Norlington Lane, “Cock Inn” and Wellingham Houses.”

Points of interest

There are quite a few school aged children who have not been recorded as scholars including all the children in some families.  Conversely there is a goodly number of children who are only aged 2 or 3 years old but who are listed as scholars.  It is noted that some of these often come from very large families.

Boys as young as 11 years old are listed as “Ag. Lab” (Agricultural Labourer) and there are even one or two labourers recorded as being only 9 years old.

There are 16 children in the Ringmer Workhouse (10 boys and 6 girls), the youngest being Louisa Greening aged 7.

In the Parish there are 5 sets of twins, 4 of which were born in Ringmer. The youngest resident is Susan Washer whose age was recorded as 11 days old.

The oldest man is T. E. Paine, aged 93, a retired tailor, born in Sidlesham, Sussex living at Pest House, Upper Lodge.  The oldest Ringmer born man is Robert Beck aged 86 still listed as an “Ag. Lab” living in Rushy Green.

There are three women listed as aged 80, but only one of which was Ringmer born, that being Lucy Packham, a widow living with her granddaughter at Dobson’s Corner.

With regard to persons not dwelling in houses, Francis Wickens, Chimney Sweep and his family are listed as sleeping in Green Lane Barn.  Although not itemised as such, William Lee is recorded as having “slept in stable or lodge”.  Under the column entitled occupation, the Enumerator originally wrote “No abode. Travels the County from information”.  This was then crossed out and “formerly Ag. Lab” is recorded.

Of the total population of 1478, 1353 were born in Sussex and of those 780 were Ringmer born. However 21 other English counties were listed as places of birth as well as Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  Two residents were recorded as having been born in the East Indies – Catherine aged 7 the daughter of Stephen Bachelor, a “Chelsea Out Pensioner living at The Green; and Eliza wife of the vicar of Ringmer, Edward Symons.  Mary Ann Towner aged 29, the married daughter of Joseph Hillman, Master Blacksmith living on Ringmer Road has a birth place recorded as New Orleans, State of Louisiana, America but it is noted that she is a British Subject.

Under the disability column the following categories are listed: 5 Blind (1 from birth, 1 from fever, 1 from disease of eye, 1 from gun accident); 1 Deaf; 3 Deaf & Dumb from birth; 1 Cripple; 3 Imbeciles; and 1 Idiot. Also recorded under the occupation column is Benjamin Brinkhurst  who is described as a ”Ag Lab using glasses” & William Cosham as a “Ag Lab out of employ (cripple)”.

As might be expected the biggest employers in the parish are the farmers. The largest recorded farm is 500 acres owned by George Holmden, of Old House, Neves Lane who is listed as employing 10 men and 5 boys. Other employers in the parish were master craftsmen though most of them only employed 2 or 3 men at most. The largest employer in the parish is Henry Turner Senior who as a brickmaker and farmer of 20 acres at Brickyard House employed 12 men and 4 boys. Two Master Builders, Joseph Miller of Broyle Lane and William Brown Martin living on Ringmer Road employed 6 and 4 men respectively. Six men were listed as being employed by A.W. Crosskey at the Wellingham Brewery. There are 28 farmers although some of these are very small farms.  There are also 5 farm bailiffs.  232 men are listed as purely “Ag. Labs”. There are also others categorised as chalkpit, bricklayer’s, road and brewer’s labourers. Other rural occupations listed are: engine driver to “thrashing” machine; hay trusser; shepherd; ox-boy; cowboy; thatcher; mole catcher and rat catcher.  There are master craftsmen in the following trades: blacksmith; maltster; brewer; wheelwright; gardener; landscape gardener; shoemaker; miller; builder, butcher; baker; grocer & draper; cabinetmaker and chimney sweeper. There are journeymen in the following trades: blacksmith; bricklayer; carpenter; painter; shoemaker; tailor and wheelwright. A huntsman, a 1st and a 2nd whipperman, a stud groom and a kennelman are employed at the South Down Fox Hunt.  There are 5 inn keepers and 1 beer house keeper listed.

The army is represented by a retired Lieut. Col. of the militia, a militiaman and two men are listed as “Chelsea out pensioners” and one as a “Greenwich pensioner”.

Female occupations include: school teachers; governesses; laundresses; laundress maids; charwomen; and dressmakers. There are also women in domestic service such as housekeepers, cooks, housemaids, nurses and general domestic servants. A notable female listed occupation is that of house agent.  Most wives are listed without an occupation but some are described in terms of their husband’s occupations such as farmer, gardener and innkeeper.  One is listed in terms of “a butler’s wife” and another as “wife of engine driver of thrashing machine”.

Other than the vicar, a retired solicitor, a police constable and school teachers the professions/vocational occupations are not very well represented. There are 10 annuitants listed.

A boarder at Broyle Place is listed as being “a manufacturer of sewing machines”.  Two other entries state “pedler attends fairs and clubs with sweets and toys for sale” and “dealer in sweets”; both of whom may have been of some interest to the younger members of the parish.

The total population of the parish is recorded as 1478 (773 male and 705 female).  In the 1861 Census the population was 1519 (767 male and 752 female) and in the 1881 Census it was 1388 (734 male and 654 female).

Of the 332 individual census schedules most were completed by householders; only 25 were required to be completed by the Enumerators.  There is one example of a possible mishearing caused by an accent, as St.Ives has been recorded as “St.Oilves”.

Enumeration District Summary of 1871 Census





















Not Inhabitants

Temporarily Present

Number of


Completed by the Enumerator himself


Persons not dwelling in Houses












1 male out seeking

for work

2 females

out visiting



2 males

3 females





3 males

6 females

Sleeping in Green Lane Barn












1 male

7 females













1 female















For comparison

1861 Census





1881 Census






Sue Hall, March 2011