Links

VCH Balsham

Introduction

Movements into the village

Movements away from the village

Ravenstein's Laws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balsham - Migration

This is a piece I wrote for a local history course, looking migration to and from the village of Balsham using primarily the census return of 1881, but also looking at 1851 for comparison. I did this to flesh out bare bones of family history.

I have divided the essay into several pages, and supplied links to them, left.

Historically, Balsham village is the only settlement in the parish of the same name: it is recorded in the Domesday book (quoted in the Victoria County History), and was extensively wooded with poor soils, the main livelihoods being pig and sheep rearing. The parish is a rough oblong in shape with the long axis aligned NW-SE, adjoining the parishes of Linton to the SW and West Wratting to the NE. In the 20th century the village became something of a dormitory suburb of Cambridge. However, the period under review in the late 19th century sees the beginning of a depression in agriculture, which in an era of increasing mobility (the heyday of the railways) encouraged moves away from the countryside into towns. In 1881 the population of the parish has shrunk by 20% from its 1851 value, from some 1250 to 1000.

Looking at the table of residents (see table below), this shows 1007 residents in 255 households in the village in 1881, giving an average size of 3.9 persons. The household size breakdown in shown in table 1, where one sees that the commonest size (number of persons) is 2, closely followed by 3, both below the average, so the distribution has a noticeable ‘tail’ of larger households. I have also analysed the 1851 census, the figures from which I have included in the table for comparison: this shows 1323 individuals in 288 households, an average of 4.6 per household (1851 also has one household each of 13, 15 and 19 persons, not listed in the table), which reveals that, in spite of the increasing population of England as a whole, the population of Balsham has declined in terms of number of people, number of households, and mean household size over the thirty years 1851-81. I suggest these all reflect the decline in the need for agricultural workers following the depression in agriculture (mentioned above). Have the girls moved out of the village into nearby Cambridge where the university (amongst other things) might offer scope for domestic employment: e.g. the 18-year-old Emily Knights, born Balsham but living Cambridge, is listed as a ‘College Porter’.

Household size

1881 No of households

1881 Persons

1851 No of households

1851 Persons

1

25

25

18

18

2

54

108

44

88

3

49

147

38

114

4

37

148

52

208

5

34

170

52

260

6

21

126

32

192

7

15

105

17

119

8

13

104

19

152

9

1

9

8

72

10

2

20

3

30

11

3

33

1

11

12

1

12

1

12

>12

0

 0

3

47

 

255

1007

288

1276

Table - Household sizes in 1881, with 1851 for comparison