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AGM 2021 (History Section)

Mon. 25 January 2021 at 2:30 pm


Held by Zoom video conferencing

The History Section’s annual general meeting. To be followed by “The early censuses (1801 to 1831), and how they can be used to inform Devon’s local history”, a talk by David Knapman.

David is a volunteer at Axminster Heritage Centre and has recently written a book “Unsteady Progress” a history of Axminster from 1701 to 2000.

Report on David Knapman’s talk

David Knapman gave a very interesting talk on “The Early Censuses (1801-1831) and how they can be used to inform Devon’s Local History”

The population of England increased significantly between 1801 and 1831 and David Knapman was interested in investigating where in Devon this had taken place, why some places had declined in population and whether there was any consistency.

Using data from Vancouver’s publication and a volume of Magna Britannica together with the censuses, David produced two spreadsheets that sorted Devon’s data in a coherent way for others to manipulate and understand. David has divided Devon into 7 categories – market towns, former or decayed market towns, parishes which form part of a market town, Exeter, Plymouth/Davenport, large villages (>1,500 people) and medium villages (between 1,000 and 1,500 people).

David then took the members through his spreadsheets, picking out items of interest to explain.

From the 1831 census David has translated raw data into percentages and ratios which enables parishes to be compared easier. He identifies growth factors in a growth potential index for the growth after 1831.

After explaining pages of his spreadsheets, David identified three ways in which his spreadsheets could be extended, giving others an opportunity to further the work.

  1. The time period could be extended by using later censuses
  2. The data could be loaded into a GIS program and map outputs alongside, for example roads, railways and topography
  3. Comparable spreadsheets for Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset could be produced and results compared to Devon’s.

David Knapman’s talk was recorded and is available to DA members on request – details here.

Chris Reader
January 2021


Mon. 25 January 2021
2:30 pm
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History Section


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