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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 666 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THE BRITISH EMPIRE England and Wales.—Up to the beginning of the 19th century the number of the population was a matter of estimate and conjecture. In 1753 a bill was introduced by a Drivate member of the House of Commons, backed by official support, to provide for the annual enumeration of the people and of the persons in receipt of parochial relief. It was violently opposed as " subversive of the last remains of English liberty " and as likely to result in " some public misfortune or an epidemical distemper." After passing that House, however, the bill was thrown out by the House of Lords. The fear of disclosing to the enemies of England the weakness of the country in fighting-material was one of the main objections offered to the proposal. By the end of the century, however, owing to a great extent to the publication of the essays of Malthus, the pendulum had swung far in the opposite direction, it was thought desirable to possess the means of judging from time to time the relations between an increasing population and the means of subsistence. A census bill, accordingly, again brought in by a private member, became law without opposition at the end of 'Soo, and the first enumeration under it took place in March of the following year, the operations being confined to Great Britain. The inquiry was entrusted in England to the overseers, acting under the justices of the peace and the high constables, and in Scotland, to village schoolmasters, under the sheriffs. A supplementary statement of births, deaths and marriages for each parish was required from the clergy, who transmitted it to parliament through the bishops and primates successively. There was no central office or control. The schedule required the number of houses, inhabited and otherwise, the population of each family, by sex, and the occupation, under one of the three heads, (a) agriculture, (b) trade, manufacture or industry, or (c) other than these two. The results, which werenot satisfactory, were published without comment. Ten years later, the chief alteration in the inquiry was the substitution of the main occupation of the family for that of the individual. The report on this census contained a very valuable exposition of the difficulties involved in such operations and the numerous sources of error latent in an apparently simple set of questions. In 1821 an attempt to get a return of ages was made, but it was not repeated in 1831, when the attention of the enumerators was concentrated upon greater detail in the occupation record. Their efforts were successful in getting a better, but still far from complete result. The creation, in 1834, of poor law unions, and the establishment, in 1836, of civil registration districts, as a rule coterminous with them, provided a new basis for the taking of a census, and the operations in 1841 were made over accordingly to the supervision of the registrar-general and his staff. The inquiry was extended to the sex, age and occupation of every individual; those born in the district were distinguished from others, foreigners being also separately returned. The number of houses inhabited, uninhabited and under construction respectively, was noted in the return. The parish statement of births, deaths and marriages was sent up by the clergy for the last time. The most important innovation, however, was the transfer of the responsibility for filling up the schedule from the overseers to the householders, thereby rendering possible a synchronous record. With some modification in detail, the system then inaugurated has been since maintained. In 1851 the relationship to the head of the family, civil condition, and the blind and deaf- mute were included in the inquiry. On this occasion, the act providing for the census was interpreted to authorize the collection of details regarding accommodation in places of public worship and the attendance thereat, as well as corresponding information about educational establishments. A separate report was published on the former subject which proved something of a storm centre. The census of 1871 obtained for the first time a return of persons of unsound mind not confined in asylums. During the next ten years, the separate areas for which popula-Lion returns had to be prepared were seriously multiplied by the creation of sanitary districts, to the number of 966. The necessity, for administrative ar other purposes, of tabulating separately the returns for so many cross-divisions of the country constitutes one of the main difficulties of the English census operations, more particularly as the boundaries of these areas are frequently altered. In anticipation of the census of 1891, a treasury committee was appointed to consider the various suggestions made in regard to the form and scope of the inquiry. Its proposals were adopted as to the subdivision of the occupation column into employer, employed and independent worker, and as to the record upon the schedule of the number of rooms occupied by the family, where not more than five. Separate entry was also made of the persons living upon property or resources, but not following any occupation. No action was taken, however, upon the more important recommendation that midway between two censuses a simple enumeration by sex and age should be effected. A return was also prepared in 1891, for Wales, of those who could speak only Welsh, only English, and both languages, but, owing to the inclusion of infants, the results were of little value. In 1901 the same information was called for, excluding all under three years of age. The term tenement, too, was substituted for that of storey, as the subdivision of a house, whilst in addition to inhabited and uninhabited houses, those occupied by day, but not by night, were separately recorded. The nationality of those born abroad, which used to be returned only for British subjects, was called for from all not born within the kingdom. Scotland.—In the acts relating to the census from 18or to 1851, provision for the enumeration of Scotland was made with that for England and Wales, allowance being made for the differences in procedure, which mainly concerned the agency to be employed. In 1855, however, civil registration of births and deaths was established in Scotland, and the conduct of the census of 1861 was, by a separate act, entrusted to the registrar- general of that country. The same course was followed at the three succeeding enumerations, but in 1901 the former practice was resumed. The complexity of administrative areas, though far less than in England, was simplified, and the census compilation proportionately facilitated, by the passing of the Local Government Act for Scotland, in 1889. In 1881, the definition of a house in Scotland was made identical with that in England, since previously what was called a house in the northern portion of Great Britain was known as a tenement in the south, and vice versa. Since 1861 a return has been called for in Scotland of the number of rooms with one or more windows, and that of children of school-age under instruction is also included in the inquiry. The number of persons speaking Gaelic was recorded for the first time in 1881. The question was somewhat expanded at the next census, and in 1901 was brought into harmony with the similar inquiry as to Welsh and Manx. Ireland.—An estimate of the population of Ireland was made as early as 1672, by Sir W. Petty, and another in 1712, in connexion with the hearth-money, but the first attempt to take a regular census was made in 1811, through the Grand Juries. It was not successful, and in 1821 again, the inquiry was considered to be but little more satisfactory. The census of 1831 was better, but the results were considered exaggerated, owing to the system of paying enumerators according to the numbers they returned. The census, therefore, was supplemented by a re-visional inquiry three years afterwards, in order to get a good basis for the newly introduced system of public instruction. The completion of the ordnance survey and the establishment of an educated constabulary force brought the operations of 1841 up to the level of those of the sister kingdom. The main difference in procedure between the two inquiries is that in Ireland the schedule is filled in by the enumerator, a member of the constabulary, or, in Dublin, of the metropolitan police, instead of being left to the householder. The tabulation of the returns, again, is carried out at the central office from the original schedule, and not, as in England, from the book into which the former has been copied by the enumerating agency. The inquiry in Ireland is more extensive than that in Great Britain. It includes, for instance, a considerable amount of information regarding holdings and stock. The details of house accommodation are fuller. A column is provided for the degree of education, and another for religious denomination, an addition which has always been successfully resisted in England. This last information was made voluntary in 1881 and the following enumerations without materially affecting the extent of the record. The inquiry as to infirmities, too, is made to extend to those temporarily incapacitated from work, whether at home or in a hospital. There is also a column for the entry of persons speaking the Irish language only or able to speak both that and English. In the report of 1901 for England and Wales (p. 170) a table is given showing, for the three divisions of the United Kingdom, the relative number of persons speaking the ancient languages either exclusively or in addition to English. British Colonies and Dependencies.—A simultaneous and uniform census of the British empire is an ideal which appeals to many, but its practical advantages are by no means commensurate with the difficulties to be surmounted. Scattered as are the colonies. and dependencies over the world, the date found most suitable for the inquiry in the mother country and the temperate regions of the north is the opposite in the tropics and inconvenient at the antipodes. Then, again, as to the scope of the inquiry, the administrative purposes for which information is thus collected vary greatly in the different countries, and the inquiry, too, has to be limited to what the conditions of the locality allow, and the population dealt with is likely to be able and willing to answer. By prearrangement, no doubt, uniformity may be obtained in regard to most of the main statistical facts ascertainable at a census, at all events in the more advanced units of the empire, and proposals to this effect were made by the registrar-general of England and Wales in his report upon the figures for 1901. Previous to that date, the only step towards compilation of the census results of the empire had been a barestatement of area and population, appended without analysis; comparison or comment, to the reports for England and Wales, from the year 1861 onwards. In 1905, however, the returns published in the colonial reports were combined with those of the United Kingdom, and the subjects of. house-room, sex, age, civil condition, birthplace, occupation, and, where available, instruction, religion and infirmities, were reviewed as fully, as the want of uniformity in the material permitted (Command paper, 2860, 1906). The measures taken by the principal states, colonies and dependencies for the periodical enumeration of their population are set forth below. Canada.—The first enumeration of what was afterwards called Lower Canada, took place, as above stated, in 1665, and dealt with the legal, or domiciled, population, not with that actually present at the time of the census, a practice still maintained, in contrast to that prevailing in the rest of the empire. The record was by families,. and included the sex, age and civil condition of each individual, with a partial return of profession or trade. Later on, the last item was abandoned in favour of a fuller return of agricultural resources, a feature which has remained a prominent part of the inquiry. After the British occupation, a census was taken in 1765 and 1784, and annually from 1824 to 1842, the information asked for differing from time to time. Enumerations were conducted independently by the different states until 1871, when the first federal census was taken of the older parts of the Dominion. Since then, the enumeration has been decennial, except in the case of the more recently colonized territories of Manitoba and the North-West, where an intermediate census was found necessary in 1885-1886. The census of Canada is organized on the plan adopted in the United States rather than in accordance with British practice, and includes much which is the subject of annual returns in the latter country, or is not officially collected at all. The details of deaths in the year preceding the census, for instance, are called for, there being no registration of such occurrences in the rural tracts. In consideration of the large immigrant population again, the birthplace of each parent is recorded, with details as to nationality, naturalization and date of immigration. Occupation is dealt with minutely, in conjunction with temporary unemployment, average wage or salary earned, and other particulars. No less than eleven schedules are employed, most of them relating to details of industries and production. The duty of filling up so comprehensive a return, involving an answer to 561 questions, is not left to the householder, but entrusted to enumerators specially engaged, working under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture. Owing to the sparse population and difficulties of communication in a great part of the dominion, the inquiry, though referred to a single date, is not completed on that day, a month being allowed to the enumerator for the collection of his returns and their revision and trans-mission to the central office. A special feature in the operations is the provision, necessitated by the record of the legal population, for the inclusion in the local return of the persons temporarily absent on the date of the census, and their adjustment in the general aggregates, a matter to which considerable attention is paid. The very large mass of detail collected at these inquiries entails an unusually long time spent in compilation; the statistics of population, accordingly, are available considerably in advance of those relating to production and industries. Australasia.—As the sphere of the census operations in Canada has been gradually spreading from the small beginnings on the east coast to the immense territories of the north-west, so, in the island continent, colonization, first concentrated in the south-east, has extended along the coasts and thence into the interior, except in the northern region. The first act of effective occupation of the country having been the establishment of a penal settlement, the only population to be dealt with in. the earlier years of British administration was that under restraint, with its guardians and a few scattered immigrants in the immediate neighbourhood of Sydney Cove. This was enumerated from 1788 onwards by official " musters, at first weekly, and afterwards at lengthening intervals. The record was so inaccurate that it had no statistical value until 1820, when the muster was taken after due preparation and with greater care, approximating to the system of a regular census. The first operation, however, called by the latter name, was the enumeration of 1828, when an act was passed providing for the enumeration of the whole population, the occupied area and the live-stock. The details of population included sex, children and adults respectively, religion and status, that is whether free (immigrants or liberated convicts), on ticket-of-leave, or under restraint. A similar inquiry was made in 1833 and again in 1836. In 1841 a separate census was taken of New Zealand and Tasmania respectively. The scope of the inquiry in New South Wales was somewhat extended and made to include occupations other than agriculture and stock-breeding. Five years later, the increase of the population justified the further addition of particulars regarding birthplace and education. The record of status, too, was made optional, and in 1856 was omitted from the schedule. In that year, moreover, Victoria, which had become a separate colony, took its own census. South Australia, too, was enumerated in 1846, ten years after its foundation as a colony. From 1861 the census has been taken decennially by all the states except Queensland, where, as in New Zealand, it has been quinquennial since 1875 and 1881 respectively. Up to and including the census of 1901 each state conducted separately its own inquiries. The scheme of enumeration is based on that of Great Britain, modified to suit the conditions of a thin and widely scattered population. The schedules are distributed by enumerators acting under district supervisors; but it is found impossible to collect the whole number in a single day, nor does the mobility of the population in the rural tracts make such expedition necessary. In more than one state the police are employed as enumerators, but elsewhere, a staff has to be specially recruited for the purpose. The operations were improved and facilitated by means of an interstatal conference held before the census of 1891, at which a standard schedule was adopted and a series of general tables agreed upon, to be supplemented in greater detail according to the requirements of each state. The standard schedule, in addition to the leading facts of sex, age, civil condition, birth-place, occupation and house-room, includes education and sickness as well as infirmities, and leaves the return of religious denomination optional with the householder. Under the head of occupation, the bread-winner is distinguished from his depend-ants and is returned as employer, employed, or working on his own account, as is now the usual practice in census-taking. Each state issues its own report, in which the returns are worked up in the detail required for both local administrative purposes, and for comparison with the corresponding returns for the neighbouring territory. The reports for New South Wales and Victoria are especially valuable in their statistical aspect from the analysis they contain of the vital conditions of a comparatively young community under modern conditions of progress. South Africa.—Almost from the date of their taking possession of the Cape of Good Hope and its vicinity, the Netherlands East Indian Company instituted annual returns of population, live-stock and agricultural produce. The results from 1687 for nearly a century were recorded, but do not appear to have been more accurate than those subsequently obtained on the same method by the British government, by whom they were discontinued in 1856. The information was collected by district officials, unguided by any general instructions as to form or procedure. The first synchronous census of the colony, as it was then constituted, took place in 1865, on a fairly comprehensive schedule. Ten years later the inquiry was extended to religion and civil condition, and for the census of 1891, again, a rather more elaborate schedule was used. The next census was deferred till 1904; in consequence of the disorganization produced by the Boer war. The inquiry was on the same lines as its predecessors, with a little more detail as to industries and religious denomination. Speaking generally, the administration 0f the operations is conducted upon the Australian plan, with special attention to allaying the distrust of the native and more ignorant classes, for which purpose the influence of the clergywas enlisted. In some tracts it was found advisable to substitute a less elaborate schedule for that generally prescribed. In Natal, indeed, where the first independent census was taken in 1891, the Kaffir population was not on that occasion enumerated at all. In 1804, however, they were counted on a very simple schedule, by sex and by large age-groups up to 40 years old, with a return of birthplace, in a form affording a fair indication of race. Natives of India, an element of considerable extent and importance in this colony, are enumerated apart from the white population, but in full detail, recognizing the remarkable difference between the European and the Oriental in the matter of age distribution and civil condition. The Transvaal and the Orange River colonies were enumerated in 1904. In the latter, a census had been taken in 1890, in considerable detail, but that of the Transvaal, in 1896, seems to have been far from complete or accurate even in regard to the white population. In Southern Rhodesia the white residents were enumerated in 1891, but it was not until 1904 that the whole population was included in the census. The difficulty in all these cases is that of procuring a sufficient quantity of efficient agency, especially where a large and illiterate native population has to be taken into account. For this reason, amongst others, no census had been taken up to rgo6 of Northern Rhodesia, the British possessions and protectorates of eastern Africa, or, again, of Nigeria and the protectorates attached to the West African colonies of Gambia, Sierra Leone and Lagos. The West Indies.—Each of the small administrative groups here included takes its census independently of the rest, though since 1871 all take it about the date fixed for that of the United Kingdom. The information required differs in each group, but the schedule is, as a rule, of a simple character, and the results of the inquiry are usually set forth with comparatively little comment or analysis. In some of the groups distinctions of colour are returned in general terms; in others, not at all. On the other hand, considerable detail is included regarding the indentured labourers recruited from India, and those of this class who are permanently settled on the land in Guiana and Trinidad. No census was taken in the former, or in Jamaica and Barbados, in 1901. Ceylon.—Here the census is taken decennially, on the same date as in India, in consideration of the constant stream of migration between the two countries. The schedule is much the same'as in India with the substitution of race for caste. Until 1901, however, it was not filled in by the enumerator, as in India, but was distributed before and collected after the appointed date as in Great Britain. India.—The population of India is the largest aggregate yet brought within the scope of a synchronous and uniform enumeration. It amounts to three-fourths of that of the British Empire, and but little less than a fifth of the estimated population of the world. Between 1853 and 1881 each province conducted its own census operations independently, with little or no attempt at uniformity in date, schedule or tabulation. In the latter year the operations were placed for the first time under central administration, and thelike procedure wasadoptedin 1891 and 1901,with such modification of detail as was suggested by the experience of the preceding census. On each occasion new areas had to be brought within the sphere of enumeration, whilst the necessity for the use in the wilder tracts of a schedule simpler in its demands than the standard, grew less as the country got more accustomed to the inquiry, and the efficiency of the administrative agency increased. Not more than 5% of the householders in India can read and write, and the proportion capable of fully understanding the schedule and of making the entries in it correctly is still lower. From the literate minority, therefore, agency has to be drawn in sufficient strength to take down every particle of the information dictated by the heads of families. As it would be impossible for an enumerator to get through this task in the course of the census night for more than a comparatively small number of houses, the operation is divided into two processes. First a preliminary record is made a short time before the night in question, of the persons ordinarily residing in each house. Then, on that night, the enumerator, reinforced if necessary by aid drafted from outside, revisits his beat, and brings the record up to date by striking out the absent and entering the new arrivals. The average extent of each beat is arranged to include about 300 persons. Thus, in 19or, not far from a million men were required for enumeration alone. To this army must be added the controlling agency, of at least a tenth of the above number, charged with the instruction of their subordinates, the inspection and correction of the preliminary record, and the transmission of the schedule books to the local centre after the census has been taken. The supply of agency for these duties is, fortunately, not deficient. Irrespective of the large number of clerks, village scribes and state and municipal employes which can be drawn upon with but slight interruption of official routine, there is a fair supply of casual literary labour up to the moderate standard required. The services, too, of the educated public are often voluntarily placed at the disposal of the local authorities for the census night, with no desire for remuneration beyond out-of-pocket expenses, and the addition, perhaps, of a personal letter of thanks from the chief official of the district. By means of a well-organized chain of tabulating centres, the preliminary totals, by sexes, of the 294 millions enumerated in 1901 were given to the public within a fortnight of the census, and differed from the final results by no more than 94,000, or •03 %. The schedule adopted contains in addition to the standard subjects of sex, age, civil condition, birthplace, occupation and infirmities, columns for mother-tongue, religion and sect, and caste and sub-caste. It is printed in about 20 languages. The results for each province or large state are tabulated locally, by districts or linguistic divisions. The final compilation is done by a provincial superintendent, who prepares his own report upon the operations and results. This work has usually an interest not found in corresponding reports elsewhere, in the prominent place necessarily occupied in it by the ethnographical variety of the population.
End of Article: THE BRITISH

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