Occupations in East Barkwith (1841 – 1911)

The information in this document is based on analysis of the census returns in the seventy years between 1841 and 1911 for residents of East Barkwith. The census data shows how the population of the village and their occupations changed during the 19th century, along with how some of the key businesses in the area developed.

The 1841 Census

The 1841 census for East Barkwith records 254 people in the village. Of those of working age, approximately 40% were doing agricultural work on the surrounding farms, where the benefits of the Agricultural Revolution were being realised.

Between 1750 and 1850 the English population expanded rapidly from 7.5 million to 16.6 million, and agricultural production also increased in line with this. In the past, surges in population growth had been effectively halted because agricultural production could not keep pace, but now the changes brought about as part of the Agricultural Revolution meant that production could expand to support this growth in population.  New farming systems involving the rotation of turnips and clover, were in part responsible for the increase in production, although this was just part of a general intensification of agricultural production, with more food being produced from the same area of land. The reclaiming of land, especially in eastern England, where from the 17th century onwards, fen lands were being drained, also helped the increase in production.

There was a change in the mix of crops, with low-yielding types, such as rye, replaced by higher-yielding crops such as wheat or barley. The split between arable and permanent pasture was also changing, with more productive arable land replacing permanent pasture. The loss of permanent pasture was offset by new fodder crops, especially turnips and clover, in arable rotations, which resulted in an increase in fodder yields. 

The East Barkwith census includes 6 farmers, 2 cattle dealers and 29 labourers working on the farms. Across the country, the number of people working in agriculture fell significantly between 1750 and 1850, with more efficient use of labour, providing in turn manpower for the growing industrial revolution in the towns and cities. In the heart of Lincolnshire, however, agriculture remained the core occupation.

 In East Barkwith, another 35% of those in work, were employed ‘in service’, many working indoors at the larger farms, and others employed at the larger houses in the area. A small number were employed outside in the form of 2 gamekeepers and 2 gardeners. A significant percentage of the village population would continue to work ‘in service’ over the next 70 years, however the proportion would never rise as high again as it was in 1841. 

In terms of services and professionals, it was early days, although the village had a grocer and a school teacher, as well as one man working as a clerk.

With regard to trades the village had a number that would remain key occupations over the following decades. The 1841 census shows 5 bricklayers, a trade that would remain represented in the village for the next 70 years. The same can be said for blacksmiths and dressmakers, while shoemakers would be represented for the next 60 years. 

Other key occupations in the village that would stand the test of time were being a tailor (making clothes and other items from material) or a draper (selling clothing and other material). In 1841 there were 6 people involved in a combination of these activities. The village also had two carpenters and a joiner.

At work using a horse drawn plough

At work using a horse drawn plough

The 1851 Census

The 1851 census for East Barkwith records 334 people in the village, an increase of 80 residents since the previous census 10 years before. This increase of 31.5% would have had a significant impact on the village, bringing the need for more dwellings and tradesmen. The population of England had almost tripled between 1750 and 1850, largely due to the Agricultural Revolution allowing enough food to be produced in order to support a larger population without the famines which had limited growth in the past. The general population increase across the country in some way accounts for the increase in the size of the village, however this was happening during a time when people were migrating from the countryside into the towns and cities where the opportunities for work were greater, so the evidence suggests that East Barkwith must have been a busy enough hub to not only retain workers but also attract new residents.

The statistics suggest that many of the new residents were finding work on the surrounding farms, with approximately 53.5% of working age residents, undertaking agricultural work. This is the highest percentage involved in agriculture seen during the years between 1841 and 1911. The number of farmers had increased from 5 to 8, while the number of agricultural labourers had risen from 29 in 1841 to 49 in 1851, along with three ‘waggoners’ who were also working on the farms.

The number of residents working ‘in service’ had dropped significantly from 28 in 1841 to 14 in 1851, perhaps because more opportunities existed for work either on the farms or in the towns and cities. Along with the general servants, the roles include a gardener, two grooms and a housekeeper.

The census recorded one resident being a Land Agent, a profession maintained in the village for the next 40 years, along with a ‘landlord of properties’ (cottages). There was also a grocer and a hawker/peddler.

The number of tradesmen in the village also increased, from 18 in 1841 to 29 in 1851, presumably to meet the demands of the growing population. This included 4 people working as blacksmiths, 4 as bricklayers and 3 as carpenters. New trades had arrived in the village with a woodman and 4 people employed as masons. Being a mason didn’t remain as a trade in the village and doesn’t appear on subsequent census returns.

One resident is listed as a carrier, who would carry goods to nearby towns and cities in his horse and cart. The carrier had a regular weekly schedule with trips to Lincoln one day, Horncastle another day and Market Rasen another. The village had a carrier listed on each census for the next 60 years, with the service listed in the various business directories of the time such as Kelly’s Directory.

Throughout those years, the carrier in East Barkwith also tended to run The Waggon and Horses beer house in Torrington Lane, and this is likely to be the origin of the name.

Cloth and clothing related work continued to occupy 6 residents as tailors or drapers, with an additional woman working as a dressmaker. The single shoemaker in 1841 had increased to 5 people by 1851, a level that would be maintained for the next decade.

Louth Road (which is now the main road A157)

Louth Road (which is now the main road A157)

Louth Road looking from Panton Road junction

Louth Road looking from Panton Road junction

Mr Brackenbury's shop in East Barkwith

 Mr Brackenbury's shop in East Barkwith 

The 1861 Census

By the time of the 1861 census the population of the village had grown further to reach 387 residents, an increase of 53 people. Again this seems to indicate that work was available within the parish to support this growth, although this time the growth wasn’t as focused on agricultural labour, and those employed in other occupations also increased.

The 1861 census recorded the peak during the 19th century for agricultural occupations in East Barkwith. The percentage of residents employed in agricultural work had dropped slightly to 48%, although the number of agricultural labourers had increased to 53, and other farming occupations were listed in the census for the first time, including 3 shepherds and 2 dairy maids.

In addition there were 8 farmers and 2 cattle dealers in East Barkwith. The census records also show one woodman and two general labourers.

The number of residents working ‘in service’ had risen significantly from 14 in 1851 to 26 in 1861, including 17 general servants, 3 grooms, 4 gardeners, 1 governess and a housekeeper. A number of the general servants were working indoors on the farms surrounding the village.

On the 1861 census, one resident of the village is recorded as a Turnpike Surveyor. One of the major achievements of the 18th century had been the creation of a well-maintained network of roads across England. These roads enabled fast transportation of goods and passengers throughout the country. The road system wasn’t centrally planned, but instead was regulated through Acts of Parliament, allowing local enterprises to be established. Authorities or Trusts, run by boards of local trustees were granted powers to levy tolls on users of specific stretches of road, using the money raised to improve and maintain the road. Although the initial powers under the Act were for a limited time of 21 years, subsequent Acts for continuation of the trusts resulted in them continuing to be responsible for many main roads until the 1870s.

The Wragby Turnpike Trust was responsible for what is now the A158 between Lincoln and Horncastle, and the A157 from Wragby, through East Barkwith and most of the way to Louth. Established in 1739 this was one of the earliest turnpike trusts in Lincolnshire. East Barkwith was midway between the toll gate at Wragby and the next toll gate at Burgh-on-Bain. It’s likely that the turnpike surveyor in East Barkwith was working for the Wragby Trust.

In terms of services, the village still retained a grocer and a hawker/peddler. The number of tradesmen had increased significantly since the previous census, including 4 blacksmiths, 5 bricklayers, 2 butchers, 3 carpenters, 2 wheelwrights, 2 millers and a ‘horse breaker’. There was a horse breaker in the village for the next 20 years, while butchers were present on the census records for the following 50 years.

Residents with occupations involving cloth, clothing and shoes continued to increase with the census showing 5 shoemakers, 3 dressmakers, and 9 tailors or drapers.

The mill on Willingham Road

The mill on Willingham Road


The Waggon and Horses in Torrington Lane 


Agricultural workers in the parish

The 1871 Census

By the time of the 1871 census the East Barkwith population had increased further to 435 residents, an increase of 48 people. Overall this was an increase of 181 residents or 71% in the 30 years since the 1841 census. This represented a population peak for the village as subsequent census reports show the number of residents gradually decreasing over the next 40 years, and even today in a country where the overall population is 2.5 times larger than in 1871, the village population has not reached the size it then attained.

Once again the percentage of residents employed in agricultural work had dropped slightly to 41%, including 47 agricultural labourers, 2 shepherds, 2 waggoners and 1 dairy maid. In addition the census recorded 13 farmers and 3 cattle dealers in East Barkwith, the number of farmers being significantly more than on any other census between 1841 and 1911, where the normal number ranged between 4 and 8. This is likely due to a number of cottagers with small parcels of land being recorded as farmers on this particular census. 

The census records also show six general labourers.

Those working ‘in service’ had increased significantly from 26 in 1861 to 47 in 1871, with 31 general servants, 1 gamekeeper, 1 coachman, 1 governess, 1 groundkeeper, 6 gardeners, 1 groom and 5 housekeepers. This was likely as a result of the larger landowners and farmers becoming more prosperous and being able to afford more servants.

The village population included two engineers, likely employed to help maintain the growing number of agricultural machines in the area. In 1856 a miller, William Foster, had started a milling and agricultural machinery business at Wellington Foundry in Lincoln, building the first portable steam engine in 1858. By 1871 the business was employing 68 men and 41 boys. It went on to become William Foster and Co, who during the First World War would build the first prototype tanks in Lincoln for the British army.

The village was served by a grocer, a hawker, a coal merchant and 2 inn keepers. Professions included a clerk, a land agent, a policeman and a school teacher.

Tradesmen in the village, employed by the growing population, included 4 blacksmiths, 4 bricklayers, 2 butchers, 1 carpenter, 1 joiner, 1 carrier, 1 horse breaker and 1 wheelwright.

Occupations involving cloth, clothing and shoes continued to be strongly represented with the census showing 3 shoemakers, 4 dressmakers, and 5 tailors or drapers.

Advert for William Foster's company in nearby Lincoln

Advert for William Foster's company in nearby Lincoln

The 1881 Census

The 1881 census recorded a population of 341 in East Barkwith, a decrease of 94 residents compared to ten years previously, despite the population of the country as a whole, increasing. The last half of the 19th century saw a trend of rural de-population, peaking in the 1870s and 1880s, with rural villages on average losing approximately 10% of their populations during those decades, although in some areas such as East Barkwith, the figure was much higher with a decrease of just over 21% seen in the village between 1871 and 1881.

This pattern of population growth through to a peak on the 1871 census and then a reduction over the following decades is mirrored in other local settlements such as Bardney. Bardney’s population would eventually increase again and exceed the 1871 figure, but this did not occur until the mid-20th century.

The reasons for the rural de-population are believed to be the increase in use of agricultural machinery, reducing the amount of manpower required, coupled with the attraction of other employment in the larger towns and cities. In Lincolnshire, a grain growing area, the low price of grain at the time, is likely to have also been a contributing factor.

The percentage of the village population employed in agriculture dropped from 41% to 37%, including 44 agricultural labourers, 1 cattle dealer, 1 dairy maid, 6 farmers and 3 waggoners. The decrease in the number of cattle dealers may indicate a shift in the ratio of cattle farming compared to grain growing, which would be typical of the eastern counties of England at this time. The nursery business off Panton road was gradually expanding with at least 4 people employed.

The numbers working in service also declined from 47 in 1871 to 38 in 1881. This included 20 general servants, 1 gamekeeper, 4 gardeners, 4 grooms and 9 housekeepers. Generally across Lincolnshire in 1881, 10% of the female population were employed as indoor domestic servants.

The professionals in the village at the time included a clerk, a land agent, a surgeon/physician, a policeman and a school teacher. Trades included 3 blacksmiths, 4 bricklayers, 1 butcher, 1 carrier, 1 dressmaker, 1 horse breaker, 1 joiner, 1 poultry dresser, 2 shoemakers, 5 tailors/drapers and 1 woodman. Additionally, for the first time, there were listed 2 brick-makers, an occupation that lasted in the village at least 10 years, as they were still present on the subsequent census.

Those providing services to the surrounding community had increased slightly, with the village boasting a coal dealer, 5 grocers, 2 hawkers/peddlers, 2 inn keepers, 1 laundress and a poultry dealer.

One major change that had occurred in the decade since the 1871 census was the coming of the railway to East Barkwith, with the village station opening on the 1st December 1876. The line ran from Bardney to Louth, incorporating two tunnels as it passed through the Wolds.

It is frequently thought that the arrival of the railway with the subsequent increase in communications and opening up of new markets, results in population growth, but as previous stated the village population shrunk considerably at this time, despite the effects of the new railway.

The 1881 census shows seven railway employees then living in the village, comprising of 4 plate layers (inspecting and maintaining the tracks), a signal man, a porter and the station master.

Local Gamekeepers, outside the Lodge, Panton Road

Local Gamekeepers, outside the Lodge, Panton Road


Starting young!


East Barkwith station, on the Panton Road

The 1891 Census

By the time of the 1891 census, East Barkwith’s population had decreased further to 323 residents, a drop of 18 (or 5%) over the decade. This decrease was amongst those involved in agricultural work, where the numbers dropped from 55 to 37, made up of 30 agricultural labourers, 5 farmers and 2 shepherds.  Kelly’s Directory recorded that the chief crops at East Barkwith were wheats, oats and barley. Meanwhile the number of people working at the Panton Road nursery, run by Messrs. Alfred Duckering and Sons, had increased from 4 to 8.

The number of residents working ‘in service’ stayed relatively the same since the previous census, with 39 people employed, consisting of 21 general servants, a coachman, 2 gamekeepers, 5 gardeners, 2 grooms, 7 housekeepers and a nurse.

The number of tradesmen also stayed the same at 23, made up of 3 blacksmiths, 2 bricklayers (a decrease from 4), 2 brick makers, a butcher, a carrier, a dressmaker, 3 shoe makers, a skeiner (someone who makes cloth), 5 tailors/drapers, 2 wheelwrights and 2 woodmen.

Also remaining the same was the total number of professionals, resident in the village, including 1 land agent, 1 physician, 1 policeman, 1 clergyman and 2 school teachers.

Those employed in serving the community included a coal merchant, 5 grocers, a peddler, 2 inn keepers and a timber merchant.

Six of the village residents were employed on the railway, a station master, a porter, a signal man and 3 platelayers.

The village also had, for the first time, a threshing machine owner living in Willingham Road, with his nephew, Tom Weatherhog, who operated the machine (engine driver). A quarter of a century later, Tom’s own nephew (also called Tom Weatherhog) would be killed during the First World War, and is listed on the parish war memorial.

Brick makers (just like the ones on Louth Road)

Brick makers (just like the ones on Louth Road)

The 1901 Census

The 1901 census recorded another drop in East Barkwith’s population, down another 16 (or 5%), to 307 residents. This time the drop was amongst both those doing agricultural work and those ‘in service’ at the estates and larger houses (mainly farms) in the area.

The number of people involved in agricultural work dropped from 37 in 1891 to just 26 in 1901, consisting of 20 labourers, 4 farmers, 1 shepherd and 1 waggoner. Again the decrease may have been due to the increased use of agricultural machinery and the attraction of other employment in the larger towns and cities, however this dip could have had more local reasons, as the number of agricultural workers rebounded in time for the following census in 1911.

Those working in service also decreased from 39 in 1891 to 31 in 1901, consisting of 19 general servants, 1 gamekeeper, 7 gardeners, 3 grooms and 1 housekeeper. 

However, there were increases recorded against certain occupations, perhaps indicating that some of those previously employed in agricultural work were forced to change their occupation. Those employed at the Duckering’s nursery increased from 8 to 12, presumably indicating that the business was growing at that time. The census also for the first time records 2 residents working as road labourers, while other ‘new’ trades appeared in the village, including a ‘fellmonger’ (a preparer of skins or hides of animals, especially sheepskins, prior to leather making), a ‘mole and rabbit catcher’ and a painter. The number reporting their occupation as woodmen, also increased from 2 to 5, and the number of butchers from 1 to 3.

Those in trades in 1901 consisted of 3 blacksmiths, 1 bricklayer, 3 butchers, 1 carrier, 1 fellmonger, 1 mole and rabbit catcher, 1 painter, 2 shoe makers, 5 tailors/drapers, 1 wheelwright and 5 woodmen. The number of dressmakers increased from 1 in 1891 to 3 in 1901, possibly due to some of those who had previously been ‘in service’ now trying to find other forms of income.

Professionals in the village at the time included 1 assurance/insurance agent, 2 clerks, 1 physician, 1 policeman, 1 rector/clergyman and 1 schoolteacher.  The railway continued to employ 6 of the village residents and there were now 2 people involved in owning or running ‘engines’.

The number employed in running village services had dropped slightly from 10 to 8, consisting of 1 coal merchant, 4 grocers, and 2 inn keepers.


The Wagon and Horses, on Torrington Lane 


The Cross Roads Inn and shops on Lincoln Road

The 1911 Census

The 1911 census recorded a further drop in East Barkwith’s population, falling from 307 in 1901 to 276 by 1911. However the percentage of those residents employed increased quite significantly, which may be due to a number of factors. Certainly it appears that employment opportunities in the village and its surrounding area, had increased since the previous census, however it is also likely that the number of children below working age had decreased. In England, a decline in birth rates took place from around 1870 to 1920. In 1871 the average woman was having 5.5 children but by 1921 this had fallen to 2.4 children. There had also been a number of colder winters with heavy snowfall in England, which may have had an impact on the number of elderly people.

Since the 1901 census, the number of East Barkwith residents employed in agriculture had risen for the first time in 50 years, rising from 26 in 1901 to 39 in 1911. The number of agricultural labourers had risen by 5 to 25, there was once again a dairy maid, the number of farmers had increased from 4 to 6, and there remained 1 shepherd. Significantly the number of waggoners/carters had increased from 1 to 6. The census records for the whole country also show a significant increase in the number of waggoners/carters between 1891 and 1911, and it is unclear whether this was partly due to a change in the classification of occupations.

The number employed at the Duckering’s nursery and manure works had also increased dramatically from 12 in 1901 to 21 by 1911, as the business continued to expand. The number of general labourers had increased from 1 to 3 over the previous decade.

The trades people in the village in 1911 included 2 blacksmiths, 1 bricklayer, 3 butchers, 1 carrier, 1 dressmaker, 1 fellmonger, 4 tailors/drapers, 3 wheelwrights (an increase possibly in line with the number of waggoners/carters) and 6 woodmen.

Professionals included 1 assurance/insurance agent, 1 clerk, 1 physician, 1 policeman, and two school teachers. The 1902 Education Act had standardised and upgraded the educational systems in England and Wales, in all likelihood resulting in increased funding (or at least funding stability) for the village school.

Those working in services for the village included 1 coal merchant, 5 grocers, 2 inn keepers, and for the first time, one person at the Post Office. The Post Office would bring the first telephone to the village and evolve to be a centre-point of village life, which it remains up to the present day.

The railway was now employing 8 village residents, consisting of 5 plate layers, 2 signal men and a station master. There remained 1 road labourer but the continued increase in mechanisation meant that there were now 4 residents listing their occupations as engine owners or drivers.

Those employed in service had again dropped from 31 in 1901 to 25 in 1911. The 25 included 12 general servants, 2 gamekeepers, 3 gardeners, 2 grooms, 5 housekeepers and a nurse.

A carter in East Barkwith

A carter in East Barkwith