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18 September 2014
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Two households in Coundon, County Durham

Explore the census entries for two households living in Coundon in County Durham in 1851. Compare their places of birth, their relations to the head of household and occupations by selecting the different features. Discover how to interpret this information and what the data can reveal.

The Coopers The Garthwaites
John Cooper head married 44   potter Derbyshire, Chesterfield
Charlotte Cooper wife married 39   Derbyshire, Dronfield
Edward Cooper dau 11   Yorkshire, Bradford
George Cooper son 10   scholar Yorkshire, Leeds
Louisa Cooper dau 7   Durham, Thickley
Charles Cooper son 5   Durham, Coundon
Mary Jane Cooper dau 3   Durham, Coundon
Charlotte Cooper dau 1   at home Durham, Coundon
Henry Kay brother unmarr 15   house servant Derbyshire, Chesterfield
William Hardy visitor widower 55   late potter Derbyshire, Chesterfield
John Sproats lodger unmarr 24   carrier Durham, St Andrew Auckland
Henry Sanderson servant unmarr 28   basket maker Yorkshire, Great Driffield
name and marital status relation to head of household age occupation place of birth
Place of birth
The Coopers were outsiders. Only their three youngest children were born in Coundon, and most of the family were born in Yorkshire and the Midlands. The majority of the pottery workers came from Derbyshire and Yorkshire, whereas most miners and their families came from County Durham. Making pottery was a skilled trade and there was no strong tradition of this craft in the vicinity of Bishop Auckland. If we look at the birthplaces of the children of pottery workers, we can work out roughly when the family moved to County Durham. In Coundon there is clear evidence of movement on a large scale. In the census for this area, only 13 of the 73 people listed were actually born in the township, a mere 18 per cent. 35 were born in County Durham, but that still meant that over half the people on this extract came from other counties. This gives us a very clear picture of a large-scale migration of pottery workers to this obscure village in County Durham at the same point in the mid-1840s and gives confirmation that this was when the pottery at Canney Hill was opened.
Looking closer
Family historians will probably be familiar with the 1851 census as a crucial source because it is the first census which gives accurate and detailed place of birth information. We could use this information in different ways, checking to see if other families showed a similar pattern (which they do), looking to see if other families moved at roughly the same time (which they did) and seeing whether the other families worked in the same industry (as they did). Local historians can use these details to look at patterns of migration, seeing where residents of a place were born and so charting movements over time and geographical space. This helps to build up a clearer picture of the community. Was it stable and fixed, with a high proportion of people born in that place and living all their lives there, or was it fluid and changing, as large numbers of incomers came? It is much less easy to track down people who went away from a locality than it is to see who came to that place.
Local History
Getting Started
Industry: Canney Hill Pottery
Landscape: Thriplow
Village: Freckleton
City: Coventry

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