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Forum - Parish News

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Forum - Parish News Estimating parish population

  1. I am trying to estimate the population of a London parish in the early seventeenth century for which we have a full run of baptism, marriage, and burial records.

    Is there an accepted means of calculating the size of the parish  based on this data?


    Chris Highley

  2. Thanks Chris. This is a useful topic which many parish researchers will need to consider at some point. Beat Kümin recommends the following work for guidance:


    Wrigley, Edward Anthony, and Roger Schofield. The Population History of England 1541-1871 (Cambridge University Press, 1989).


    If any other My Parish users have attempted population calculations then feel free to describe any problems your came across on this discussion thread.



  3. Many thanks for the recommendation!



  4. If you read french :

    If not, here a short translation. "Parish registers that give us almost all the baptismal, marriage and burial certificates of a parish for any year. To approximate the population of a parish over a decade, a ten-year average of baptisms can be established. "Assuming that the birth rate was between 36 and 40 per thousand (which is very likely at least before 1750, and even long after that for the rural parishes), it is enough to assign the average birth rate of the coefficient 25 (corresponding to a rate of 40 per thousand) and the coefficient 28 (corresponding to a rate of 35.71 per thousand): the population figure is, with the maximum likelihood, within the range thus obtained." (d’après François Lebrun, Les registres paroissiaux et d’état civil in le Guide de l’histoire locale, Paris, Seuil, 1990).

    Hope it could be helpful.

    Jessica Pierre-Louis


  5. Just saw your comment. Thanks Jessica! I will give it a go.


  6. I was responsible for a reconstitution of a parish's registers which contributed a small amount to the Cambridge Group's population history quoted previously. I think the rates per thousand  (burials can be used equally) ideally needs adjusting for the period or century concerned, as these rates changed over time. But it is a subject full of ifs and buts! 

  7. Try to find nominal lists (poor rate lists for example) and diocesan returns of inhabitants or communicants to see whether there is support for your calculations. Do you know The Diocesan Population Returns for 1563 and 1603 ed. Dyer & Palliser (The British Academy 2005)?