Population

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Gregory King (1648 to 1712) was Secretary to to the Commission of Public Accounts and Secretary to the Controllers of Army Accounts. He compiled statistics which are contained in a manuscript Natural and Political Observations and Conclusions upon the State and Condition of England which is said to have been compiled in 1696. It includes estimates, apparently based on taxation information, of the comparative wealth of different social groups in England around 1688. Charles Davenant drew on King's work in writing An Essay on the probable Methods of making a People Gainers in the Balance of Trade published in 1699. D. V. Glass analysed the available information in some detail in a paper published in Eugenics Review in January 1946 and explains that the methods used by King are far from clear. However, P. E. Jones and A. V. Judges in their London Population in the late Seventeenth Century conclude that King was, broadly speaking, correct in his conclusions that, by the end of the century, there were 527,000 people living in London.

POPULATION OF LONDON AND NATIONALLY

The original table in the D. V. Glass paper published in The Eugenics Review vol. XXXVII, No. 4 includes columns showing how the totals were calculated. For reasons of clarity, these columns have been omitted from the table below:

Region Total people
The 97 parishes within the walls [of London] 80,190
The 16 parishes without the walls [of London] 164,450
The 15 out parishes in Middx and Surrey 169,400
The 7 parishes in the city and liberty of Westminster 113,520
Total for London and the Bills of Mortality 527,560
For other cities and market towns 855,000
The villages and hamlets 4,040,000
[Calculated pop.] England and Wales 5,422,560

URBAN/RURAL BALANCE

These figures provide an interesting guide to the proportion of the population that appears to have been rural, urban and London-dwelling:

% of population living in villages and hamlets 74%
% of population living in cities and market towns 16%
% of population living in London 10%

DETAILED POPULATION ANALYSIS OF LICHFIELD

Equally interesting is King's analysis of the ages of the population of Lichfield in 1695. Again, there is no detailed explanation as to how King acquired the data but he appears to have a reputation as a methodical researcher and, as such, it seems reasonable to accept his figures.

Table first published in The Eugenics Review, vol. XXXVII, No. 4

Bachelors Spinsters Husbands Wives Widowers Widows Total
Under 5 years 167 201 368
Age 5 - 9 years 227 183 410
Age 10 to 14 years 156 127 283
Age 15 to 19 years 136 170 1 307
Age 20 to 24 years 44 125 15 22 307
Age 25 to 29 years 49 72 38 69 1 3 232
Age 30 to 34 years 9 25 68 81 7 5 195
Age 35 to 39 years 6 22 105 87 7 29 256
Age 40 to 44 years 1 3 52 43 4 16 119
Age 45 to 49 years 1 1 66 46 6 13 133
Age 50 to 54 years 1 2 21 22 3 12 61
Age 55 to 59 years 4 37 38 8 25 112
Age 60 to 64 years 2 1 17 23 3 22 68
Age 65 to 69 years 1 21 10 8 41 81
Age 70 to 74 years 2 1 2 9 14
Age 75 to 79 years 1 4 5 10
Age 80 to 84 years 1 2 3
Age 85 to 89 years 1 1 2
Age 90 to 94 years 0
Age 95 years and more 1 1
Totals 804 933 442 443 55 184 2,861

LICHFIELD - AGE BALANCE

There are, of course, risks inherent in taking the data for Lichfield as typical of the situation across the whole country because circumstances could have been different for many reasons. Glass includes a comment made by King himself to the effect that he would have expected to see around 32 more children in Lichfield in the lowest age group and attributes this to errors in the assessment itself of '...reason of ye mortality by ye Small Pox which hapned among ye young children a year or two ago...'. Even so, if we accept that there could be an undefined error if the figures are extrapolated to provide a national picture, the Lichfield analysis is fascinating if for no other reason than that it provides a guide to the breakdown of the population by age and also shows that it was unusual for people to marry below the age of 20 (there is only one wife below the age of 20 and no husbands). If the number aged less than 5 years are increased to bring it in line with the figure that King would have expected the ratio between children and adults can be calculated. In this example, a child has been regarded as making the transition to adult at age 15.

Age band Number %
Aged 0 - 14 years 1,093 38%
Aged 15 to 64 years 1,689 58%
Aged more than 65 years 111 4%

REFERENCES

Glass, D. V. (1946) 'Gregory King and the population of England and Wales at the End of the Seventeenth Century' Eugenics Review, vol XXXVII, No. 4, January, p. 170 to 183.