The history of Clophill, Bedfordshire, UK
Including historical descriptions, maps and statistical analysis.


Data from the 1841 to 1911 censuses were transcribed and analysed using a spreadsheet.


In the 'Occupation' column of the enumerator's book for children there is usually no entry for very young children or it says 'At Home'.

When they attend school the entry is 'Scholar'.

Children started work as young as 4 years old, in this case in 1851, as a 'Plait Maker'.

Young children often had to plait straw at home or at a Straw Plait School.

Male Children

When the boys got older most had to work on the land as 'Labourers'. Here boys as young as 9 years old were labouring.

If they were lucky they might be apprenticed as are some 14 year olds, here.

One 16 year old gives his occupation as 'Blacksmith' which he must have learn from his father who was a 'Master Blacksmith'.

Female Children

One 2 year old daughter of a 'Master Shoemaker' is recorded as a 'Scholar' which seems a very young age.

Girls left school to be 'Straw Plaiters' which they did to a much later age than boys. When they were 16+ they often went into service in the bigger houses in the district.

Unusually, one 10 year old gives her occupation as a 'Farm Labourer'. Her father was a 'Farmer' and employed his children.

1851 Census

Children started work as young as 4 years old. Here a 4yr old boy is a 'Plait Maker'.

1861 Census

1871 Census

Clophill National School was built during 1871 and officially opened by a short service on Friday 5th January 1872 at 2.45 p.m.

Whether the children in this census were attending the new school is not known.

1881 Census

The 1880 Education Act finally made school attendance compulsory between the ages of five and ten. It had a noticable effect as young children were no longer recorded as having occupations.

1891 Census

1901 Census

In this census the Occupation of children is only recorded if they are working. Those at home or at school are left blank.

Further legislation in 1893 extended the age of compulsory attendance to 11 and in 1899 to 12.

1911 Census


To show only one set of data on each graph click one of the buttons. For example to compare the ages that children went to work over the decades, click the Working button.