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Saltford Environment Group
  towards a sustainable future for our village

A view of Saltford Brass Mill and railway station taken in 1880. Willow Cottages, formerly Ferry Cottage(s), are in the foreground.

SEG Home > History of Saltford > A - Z > 1861 Census

The History of Saltford

1861 Census
and data about Saltford


All the information below is sourced from the 1861 United Kingdom Census which recorded the people residing in every household on the night of Sunday 7 April 1861. It was the third of the UK censuses to include details of household members.

The name of the Superintendent Registrar's District is given as Keynsham, and the Registrar's Sub-District is Newton St Loe. The Enumeration District is No. 2, and the Enumerator was a Mr Samuel Bruce. Enumeration District No. 2 is described as follows:-

'The whole of the parish of Saltford: the chief employment consists of agricultural labourers, railway labourers and men and boys working in the Brass Battery and Rolling Mills.'

This introduction is only partially true as it only accounts for less than half of the working population. The other half are either engaged in various trades and provision of services, or are servants.

The 1861 census gives more information about the actual buildings people lived in than those of 1851 and 1871, so in many cases we can identify those buildings today. The census is more or less in geographical order, but with some exceptions.

Broadly speaking it starts on the Bath Road at the Toll House and works its way up to The Crown. There are no houses between the bottom of Saltford Hill and The Crown, and only a couple of cottages between The Crown and Tunnel House. The census then works its way down the High Street, takes in a handful of properties on Mead Lane, and then moves along The Shallows to the Brass Mill.

On the night of the census there were 376 people resident in Saltford, in a total of 86 residential units.

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Approximately 149 people (40%) have an occupation recorded against their name. The rest were either housewives, children at school or at home, or retired people.

81 'scholars' are recorded, ranging in age from 3 to 15. Presumably these all attended the village school. 2 teachers are recorded, so unless other teachers came from outside the parish, the pupil:teacher ratio was not very good.

There were 13 farmers - i.e. those who ran the farms, and 12 others described as 'farmer's wife/son/daughter', who presumably worked on the farm. There were a further 39 agricultural labourers and 3 shepherds. (See Farms below).

48 people were engaged in various trades; butchers, a baker, shopkeepers, blacksmith, carters (someone who carries or conveys goods in a cart), bootmakers, carpenter, coal merchant, maltsters and tailors. There was a stay maker (a corset maker), a straw-bonnet maker, 7 dressmakers and 13 laundresses. There were 5 innkeepers/beer sellers.

45 people were servants of various types, ranging from charwomen (domestic cleaners) to general servants, housekeepers, gardeners, a cook and a coachman.

The Brass Mill employed 12 local men and boys, and all except one lived in the Brass Mill house. Interestingly some of these were born in Keynsham, Bitton or Kelston, suggesting that there was a little employment mobility within the local industry. It is of course possible that the Brass Mill also employed others from outside the parish.

As well as the GWR Station Master, who lived in No. 2 Ship Cottages on the Bath Road, and was from Edinburgh, the railway(s) also employed 9 other Saltford men as labourers. There was also a stone quarryman and a stone breaker in the village.

Around 10 people are recorded as being retired, including an 'Out' Chelsea Pensioner - one who does not live at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. There were 2 toll collectors, a merchant seaman, the rector and a solicitor. In Saltford House there was a Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy, but Tunnel House was unoccupied.

The village was firmly working-class with only the few exceptions noted above. There was no doctor, and no wealthy landowners. The one person who stands out is one Joseph Cotterell who lived with his family and servants at Avon Side Cottage in the High Street, which is Jeffreys Lodge today.

He is recorded as being an Aerated Water Manufacturer employing 26 men and lads. He was actually a partner in the firm of Withy and Co. of Bath, and a member of an influential Bristol/Bath family of industrialists.

There is no ferryman recorded anywhere, and certainly not living in the two Ferry Houses or Ferry Cottage (now Willow Cottages), but Charles and Hannah Gregory, who it seems ran the ferry between 1886 and 1908, were living just along The Shallows at 3 Flower's Cottages, near the Brass Mill.

He was 36 and she 30, and they had no children. He was an Agricultural Labourer, and she a Char Woman. It seems that 25 years later, in their fifties, they had a career change!

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For anyone described as a farmer, the census records his acreage and number of employees: Some of these were part-time farmers - the three innkeepers, the grocer and the butcher:

Bath Road - Farm House (probably Saltford Farm). William Webber farmed 32 acres, employing 1 man.

Bath Road - Farm House (possibly Saltford Farm). Henry Highman farmed 40 acres, employing 1 man.

Ship Inn - The innkeeper Oliver Ollis farmed 33 acres.

Crown Inn - The innkeeper Charles Kendall farmed 36 acres employing 3 men.

Saltford Street - Farm House (possibly the farm behind Jeffreys Lodge). Thomas Goulstone farmed 65 acres, employing 1 man and 1 boy.

Saltford Street - Farm House (possibly Norman House or a predecessor of it). William Docwra farmed 137 acres plus 50 acres of woodland, employing 6 men and 4 boys.

The Batch Farm (on the right hand side of The Batch). Isaac Ferris farmed 50 acres.

Court House Farm (Saltford Manor). Lamrock Flower farmed 120 acres employing 5 men and 2 boys.

Grocer's shop (location uncertain). George Smith farmed 11 acres.

Railway Arms (18 High Street). Thomas Evans farmed 40 acres.

3 Mead Lane (probably opposite the Mead Lane side of the Bird In Hand). Henry Withers farmed 15 acres.

Butcher's shop, Mead Lane (location uncertain). James Smith farmed 30 acres.

Avon Farm, Avon Lane. William Freeman farmed 100 acres, employing 4 men and 1 boy.

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Age profile

There were 191 females and 183 males:

< 14    114

14-20     49

21-30     49

31-40     42

41-50     43

51-60     46

61-70     14

71-80     14

80-84     03

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Place of birth

Saltford: 183

Bath: 10

Corston: 7

Kelston: 8

Keynsham: 17

Newton St Loe: 14

Somerset: 288

Wiltshire: 30

Gloucestershire: 18

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Most frequently-occurring surnames

Ollis*, 24

Humphries, 19

Smith, 16

Williams, 16

Evans, 15

*German immigrants skilled in brass battery employed in Saltford Brass Mill from the 1720s included the name Ollis.

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Most frequently-occurring first names


Elizabeth, 21 plus 10 Eliza

Sarah, 21

Mary, 20 plus 5 variants of Mary Ann

Ann/Anne/Annie, 15


William, 32

George, 21

Thomas, 18

Henry, 16

James, 14

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On the Bath Road, the old Post Office was lived in by a boot maker, and at this stage there didn't seem to be another location for a Post Office.

The innkeeper at the Ship Inn was Oliver Ollis, whose name is painted in enormous letters on the front of the Inn in the 1893 photograph in our Online Museum.

The Crown Inn was located on its own. The nearest property appeared to be a cottage in 'Burnett Lane' which is probably the old name for Manor Road. Old maps show a building approximately opposite what is now Claverton Road.

Another unnamed property, between The Crown and Tunnel House in the census, was in Baker's Lane. Was this a former name for Beech Road?

Some of the cottages in the High Street have confusingly changed their names, but we can take an educated guess at some of them. The Brassknocker was known as Mount Cottage, and Saltford Manor was Court Farm, lived in by the long-standing Flower family.

The Railway Arms is well out of sequence in the census; it is today No. 18 High Street, on the corner of the High Street and Homefield Close. In the census it is listed at the eastern end of the High Street.

Nos. 1 and 2 Holbrook's Cottages are today The Bird In Hand.

Researcher and author for this page: Andrew Stainer (March 2015)
HTML conversion: Phil Harding


Saltford Environment Group
W3C compliant website. Web page designed and produced by Phil Harding.

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Age profile

Place of Birth

Most frequently-occurring surnames

Most frequently-occurring first names


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