The Reffell Family in 1861

In 1861 the population of Great Britain & Ireland was 29,070,930; made up of 9,776,259 males & 10,289,965 females in England & Wales, with a further 1,449,848 males & 1,612,446 females in Scotland. Thus the general male/female split at that time was approximately 48 males for every 52 females. The total number of people recorded in England & Wales with the Reffell surname was just 75, a miniscule proportion of 0.00025% of the total population. This consisted of 41 males & 34 females, very different from the national average. The most popular male name was William with Mary as the most popular female name. The average age was surprisingly low at just over 25 and the oldest was 78 years old. The family was largely based in the south east of England with large branches in London, Surrey and Buckinghamshire. Smaller branches were to be found in Birmingham, Kent & Suffolk. All those in the family had been born in England. There were many varied occupations listed including; farmers, a working jeweller, some cabmen, an ironmonger, some gun makers, a number of watermen and rope makers. Also included were people connected with the brewing trade both brewers and publicans. There was no one listed as being in any of the the armed services, and perhaps the strangest occupation noted was a manure agent! It was predominantly a male working force, with only a few of the females having any occupation; a couple of dressmakers, a waitress, a shop assistant, a housekeeper and a pipemaker.

The 1861 Census

The 1861 England & Wales census was taken on the night of Sunday 7 April 1861. Each householder (called 'the head') was required to complete a census schedule giving the address of the household, the names, ages, sex, occupations and places of birth of each individual residing in the accommodation. The format was essentially the same as that taken in 1851, householders were asked to give details of the places of birth of each resident, to state their relationships to the head, marital status and the nature of any disabilities from which they may have suffered. The original census schedules were destroyed many years ago, but the enumerator's books were kept in a number of locations before eventually moving to the Public Records Office. They were microfilmed in 1970 to prevent the increasing usage from destroying these fragile records, and have subsequently been digitalised and transcribed for the Internet. Although there is the odd torn or mutilated page, in general the records have survived in remarkable condition considering the heavy usage that they have had. The main problem now found are the various marks made during the evaluation of the returns, sometimes obscuring important genealogical information.