Tong Census Summary

The Parish of Tong

It is assumed that the boundaries of the parish did not change during the time period 1841 to 1901. It may be that the census takers strayed over the boundary on a couple of occasions, this is particularly likely around Tong Forge where there are houses close to the stream that marks the boundary of the parish. People were much more aware of the parish in which they lived than nowadays. The annual beating of the bounds served to inculcate this into the inhabitants. However, Tong is more of a collection of hamlets than many parishes and, for example, people living at White Oak would have much more to do with people in Bishops Wood than Tong.

The boundary follows the stream as the Western boundary all the way from the A5 down to Tong Castle through Lizard Mill, Tong Forge and Ruckley, it then follows the stream to Shackerley Mill nearly up to White Ladies where it then follows field boundaries north-east, fringing Boscobel to the Bishops Wood Road, this is the Eastern extremity and is also the county boundary. It then follows field boundaries to the north of Offoxey Road into Weston Park as the northern boundary. It then crosses the Norton Road just north of Norton Mere and then follows the stream north to the A5.

The censuses identify the principal locality names within the parish as Tong (including Tong Hill), Tong Norton, Havannah, Burlington, Lizard, Tong Forge, Vauxhall, Ruckley, Neachley, Holt, Knowle, Offoxey and White Oak. This is in addition to the individual house and farm names. An impressive range of names for a small parish and no doubt reflects its long history, but we are pretty sure that the Durants are responsible for adding Havannah and Vauxhall to the list and Neachley is really a neighbouring parish.

1841 Census

The census has the highest number of under 10s, which is a symptom of large family sizes and the high infant mortality rate. Fortunately this factor seems to have reduced in subsequent censuses. Only seven houses are recorded in the Offoxey Road/White Oak area perhaps indicating it was still woodland and not yet cultivated farmland.

George Durant II was still at the castle (aged 65) with, apparently a wife (Celeste) of 35 and a youngest child Agnes of 1 year old. He had a household of fourteen servants.

1851 Census

The oldest inhabitant recorded from any of the census returns is Joseph Stubbs who is recorded as being 96 years old in 1851. Tong Castle was occupied by caretakers (the Langford family with a nephew and one servant), the castle was probably 'on the market' after the Durants had left.

1861 Census

Tong Norton had two pubs at this time the Bell Inn and the Bush Inn.

John Hartley (Ironmaster, born in Scotland) and family had moved into the castle with ten servants. It seemed they previously lived in Wolverhampton / Willenhall area. At the same time, John Jones also a Black Country Ironmaster had moved into Ruckley Grange.

The overall population is at its highest level for the seventy years of data. The year also holds the record for the highest average age (28 years). Not all of the children attend school as is the case in other years. In most cases 'no occupation' is given for these children but this may be just an omission in the census. The houses at Burlington are termed Standeford for the only time, this name is on the 1901 map. In a couple of pages the census taker has clearly attempted some 'adjustment' to the status of individuals, instead of Daughter he has put it in italics "Daughter" for three at the castle of the Hartley family. Similar he has put "Married" deliberately in place of Married for five people.

1871 Census

The population stayed fairly static from 1861 but with the largest total number of houses (122). There is a shift in houses listed as located at Tong Knowle (or Knoll) to Offoxey Road, but this could well be just a change of name rather than a population shift. There are 21 people aged 70 years old or over recorded, more than in any other census year. Eight of these were apparently still working. This challenges the view that increasing longevity has been a steady trend over the last 150 years.

1881 Census

The number of 'scholars' reaches its peak of a total of 110 with ages between 3 and 15 years.

1891 Census

The population level has now gone back to that of 1841 with more houses noted as being in Tong Village than surrounding hamlets mainly at the expense of Tong Norton. The largest number of houses are noted as uninhabited than for any other census year.

1901 Census

The population declines to 436. Fewer people were born in Tong than in any other year. Havannah shows the largest decline compared to other parts of the parish. The return no longer records which children were at school, although it must be assumed they were still attending it.

The Hartley family is still occupying the castle. John Hartley has died so it his widow Emma and unmarried daughter Rosa Mary that remain with eight servants.

Industrialisation of farms is showing an impact, not only in reduced number of labourers, but of those that are left, six are noted as engine drivers and one of them as an electric engine driver. Only one other engine driver is noted in 1891. At this time deep ploughing was carried out by static steam engines driving a plough across a field by a belt driven mechanism. It opened up new scrub and woodland for cultivation.

2001 Census

One hundred years on and the only data available at present are statistical totals. The population has halved and the average age has increased with very few young people in the village.


There are a surprising variety of occupations noted in the returns. Some years give a lot more details than others, back in 1841 some entries just put 'Ag L' for Agricultural Labourer and 'F S' for Female Servant. At the other extreme in 1901 it goes down to more detail for example 'Feeder threshing machine' or 'Carter's Lad on Farm'. It is perhaps surprising that putting all the agricultural related occupations (including wheelwrights and waggoners for example) together only gives 54% of the population noted as working. Mechanisation led to a fall in requirements for agricultural labour after 1881.

Of the more unusual occupations in the returns here are some examples :

Tollgate Keeper
There was a tollgate on the A5 at Burlington that just fell within the parish boundary. This was in operation up to 1851.

William Wooley is recorded as a clockmaker at Tong Hill in 1841 and 1851.

Police Constable
Prior to the building of the police house in the 1960s a police constable lived at Tong Havannah in 1901.

Mole catcher
There are three records of individuals whose occupation is noted as mole catcher in 1851, 1881 and 1901.

Local industries

There was a number of laundresses working at Ruckley from 1881 through to 1901, one of the houses was renamed Ruckley Laundry. The village always had one or tailors and dressmakers. There was a grocer's shop at Tong Norton.

In 1841 and 1851 there were a number of shoemakers (seven in 1851) and a cordwainer so it was clear that this was a local cottage industry up to 1860.

Similarly there were nine blacksmiths in 1851 (five of them appropriately called Smith) at Tong Norton, Neachley and Havannah. On two surveys a 'blacksmith's striker' is identified who seems to be acting an apprentice. In 1901 there were only two at Tong Norton. There were also six wheelwrights in 1841 dwindling down to one or two. The brewing trade was represented by Maltsters, who prepared the malt ready for brewing; this was carried out at the small, specialised Church Hall Farm in the village. The Lizard Mill was in operation milling grain up to the 1890s.

Other assorted long lost professions mentioned are ostlers, higlers, stocking knitter, rural message courier and wire rope maker.

In general some children start working at the age of ten, usually as servants. Most children will have helped with work even if they attended school, there is then a gradual increase in children at work by the age of 14 half had left school and they had all left by the age of 16.

Notable Places

Ruckley Grange

Seems to have been a small house up to 1851 and then in 1861 John Jones (Ironmaster) had a household with six servants. No family is noted as staying more than ten years. In 1871 it was Charles Corser (Attorney and Solicitor), 1881 Thomas Horton (Ironmaster), 1891 Waldgrave Kell (Retired Major) and in 1901 Edward Duriand (Colonel from Burma) with nine servants.


Up to 1871 called the Parsonage. Once again no family inhabited for more than ten years. Successive curates were George Harding (1851), George Woodhouse (1861), Richard Lawrence (1871) living at Tong Norton, then Thomas Wilson (1881), John Clarke (1891) and John Auden (1901).


Over the seventy years the number and size of farms stayed fairly static. The farms were:

Church House (230 acres) 5 men in 1871
New Buildings (90 acres)
Tong Hall (37 acres) maltster (1 man) in 1881
Tong Park (340 acres) 4 men and 4 boys in 1861
Tong Hill (150 acres) 4 labourers in 1861
Meeshill (444 acres but 165 acres in 1851) 10 men and 1 boy employed in 1861
Offoxey Farm (472 acres) 8 men and 2 boys employed in 1861
White Oak (186 acres) 8 labourers in 1851
Tong Norton (56 acres) 1 labourer in 1851
Tong Norton (200 acres) 6 men in 1861
Bell Inn (90 acres) 2 men in 1871
Knowle Farm (264 acres 1851; 190 acres 1871) 5 labourers in 1861
Havannah (23 acres 1851)
Lizard Grange (149 acres 1881) 3 labourers 1881
Lizard Mill (90 acres 1871) 2 labourers 1871
Ruckley Wood (130 acres 1851) 5 labourers 1851
Vauxhall Farm (first appears as a farm in 1901 presumably after the draining of Lodge Lake)

Place of Birth

Except for 1841 about half the population were born within five miles of Tong. To extend the analysis to trace those that came from further afield is a lot more work. In general I think people moved along the A41 or A5, with quite a number from Newport, Wolverhampton and of course Shropshire. A number of families moved from Montgomeryshire with good welsh names that are still around : Jones, Owen, Wynn and Evans.


There are very few individuals that seem to be present in all seven censuses, as I have not seen the marriage records I can not trace married women back to their unmarried names. Here are a few that are fairly clear cut :
Benjamin Andrews : Carpenter at Tong Norton, still working at 77 years old in 1901
Henry Bennion : Farmer at Tong Hill Farm, still working at 74 years old in 1901
Alexander James : Groom and Gardener living in several places within Tong

There are more people who are present for sixty years : John and Elizabeth Boden : Shoe maker and Post master
Emily Chesney : Dressmaker
John and Mary Ore : Labourer and bricklayer
Elizabeth Picken : Recorded as 91 years old in 1891

The most frequent surnames over the time period (in order) were Jones (159); Smith (122); Evans (81); Parker (67); Boden (67); Greatbatch (47); Gamble (44); Wedge (44) and Salter (42). This does not necessarily point to the oldest families as many of the Smiths and Jones' are unrelated and of course the surname purely follows the male line. The Milners have a good claim to long-standing status, Thomas Milner moved into Tong as a Maltster in the 1840s from Much Wenlock.


The census records have a column to denote invalids of various kinds. For the record, over the seventy years there was one blind man, one deaf and dumb, one feeble minded, one idiot and one imbecile.


Here are some of the statistics that are derived from the raw census data.

General Statistics

YearTotal HousesUninhabitedPopulationOccupancyServants per houseSex RatioAverage Age


  1. All censuses give numbers of uninhabited houses.
  2. The occupancy is just the average number of people per inhabited house. It is in gradual decline as family sizes reduce (until last century).
  3. In most houses there are live-in servants who are not family members.
  4. The average age climbs a bit and holds steady (until after 1900).
  5. In 2001 most houses are occupied by couples with no children.

Houses and Hamlet Size

YearTongTong NortonRuckley, Forge, NeachleyHavannah, Lizard, KnowleOffoxey Road, Holt, White OakTotal Houses


YearFarmerAgricultural LabourerAgricultural RelatedTradeProfessionalRetiredDomestic ServantTotal% Agricultural


  1. I have included related industries like blacksmith, cowman, waggoner, carter, keeper etc. into agricultural related.
  2. Professional includes white colour occupations like the clergy, solicitors and the landed gentry.
  3. Trade is for other non-agricultural occupations like grocer, tailor, bricklayer etc.
  4. The final percentage is for all agricultural occupations (labourer and related).
  5. By 2001 all agricultural related occupations have dramatically dropped away.

Place of Birth

YearBorn in Tong%Born Locally%


  1. The 1841 census does not give place of birth, only if born in same county.
  2. I included some occasions where 'Ruckley' or 'Norton' are used for place of birth to mean Tong.
  3. For 'Born locally' places within five miles are included, this area stretches as far as Codsall and includes Albrighton, Shifnal, Weston, Blymhill, Brewood and Sheriffhales.

Age Distribution

YearUnder 10%10-19%20-29%30-39%40-49%50-59%60-69%70 or over%


  1. Except for 2001, not as much variation as you might expect over the years, particularly at the high age range.
  2. Only big anomaly 1841-1901 is the number of under 10s in 1841.
  3. In 2001 the numbers dramatically shift to the older age groups with most people in their 50s.
  4. Not sure how this fits a national profile at the time, would be interesting to compare to national averages.

For background information on the Census data on which this analysis is based please see the Census Data page. Note that only a small portion of this information is printed in the Book.

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