1841 census for Headington

Here are four PDF files, showing everyone who slept in the Headington area (from Marston Road to Sandhills) on the night of Sunday 6 June 1841. Each represents one original census book, namely:

  • Headington Quarry, including the south side of the London Road, Barton, and Sandhills: 679 people
  • Old Headington, including the Marston Road, the north side of the London Road, and (rather curiously) Old Road at Titup: 873 people
  • Radcliffe Asylum for Lunatics” (now the Warneford Hospital), 48 people. Although only initials are given, many of the patients remained here until their death, and full names are given in the burial registers of St Andrew’s Church up until 1849 and of Holy Trinity Church in Quarry from 1850
  • Headington Union Workhouse, 67 people.



New Headington village was not built until 1852, so the total population is only 1667 (about half the size it was forty years later in 1891).

The 1841 census is infuriating from a genealogical point of view, in that the age of everyone over 15 is rounded down to the nearest five years, and family relationships and the exact place of birth are not given. But from a sociological point of view it is the most fascinating of all the censuses of Headington, as it shows a glimpse of the pre-Victorian world.

The majority of ordinary children in this census (except for the lucky 30 at the Free School) could not go to school, as Headington National School did not open until 1848. The youngest boy in employment is aged 9, and the youngest girl is 10 (both agricultural labourers). It also seems a common phenomenon for older children to be boarded out with nearby neighbours.

A much higher proportion of people share their house with a second family than in later censuses. Thus in Old Headington there are 873 people in 161 houses, and in Quarry 679 people in 136 houses.

Many women are shown as agricultural labourers: in later years (when it was no longer respectable for women to work in the fields) they would have become laundresses.

© Stephanie Jenkins


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