United Kingdom Population - History

United Kingdom Population - History

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Contemporary Britons are descended mainly from the varied ethnic stocks that settled there before the 11th century. The pre-Celtic, Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse influences were blended in Britain under the Normans, Scandinavian Vikings who had lived in northern France. Although Celtic languages persist in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the predominant language has been English, primarily a blend of Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French.

Religion of the United Kingdom

The various Christian denominations in the United Kingdom have emerged from schisms that divided the church over the centuries. The greatest of these occurred in England in the 16th century, when Henry VIII rejected the supremacy of the pope. This break with Rome facilitated the adoption of some Protestant tenets and the founding of the Church of England, still the state church in England, although Roman Catholicism has retained adherents. In Scotland the Reformation gave rise to the Church of Scotland, which was governed by presbyteries—local bodies composed of ministers and elders—rather than by bishops, as was the case in England. Roman Catholicism in Ireland as a whole was almost undisturbed by these events, but in what became Northern Ireland the Anglican and Scottish (Presbyterian) churches had many adherents. In the 17th century further schisms divided the Church of England as a consequence of the Puritan movement, which gave rise to so-called Nonconformist denominations, such as the Baptists and the Congregationalists, that reflected the Puritan desire for simpler forms of worship and church government. The Society of Friends (Quakers) also originated at that time. Religious revivals of the mid-18th century gave Wales a form of Protestantism closely linked with the Welsh language the Presbyterian Church of Wales (or Calvinistic Methodism) remains the most powerful religious body in the principality. The great Evangelical revivals of the 18th century, associated with John Wesley and others, led to the foundation of Methodist churches, particularly in the industrial areas. Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire in northeastern England and Cornwall in the southwestern peninsula still have the largest percentages of Methodists. In the 19th century the Salvation Army and various fundamentalist faiths developed. Denominations from the United States also gained adherents, and there was a marked increase in the practice of Judaism in Britain. In 1290 Jews were expelled from Britain, as they would be from other countries in the 14th and 15th centuries, a reflection of medieval anti-Semitism. The first Jewish community to be reestablished in Britain was in London in the 17th century, and in the 19th century Jews also settled in many of the large provincial cities. More than half of all British Jews live in Greater London, and nearly all the rest are members of urban communities. Britain now has the second largest Jewish community in Europe.

The British tradition of religious tolerance has been particularly important since the 1950s, when immigrants began to introduce a great variety of religious beliefs. There are large and growing communities that practice Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism. The largest number of Muslims came from Pakistan and Bangladesh, with sizable groups from India, Cyprus, the Arab world, Malaysia, and parts of Africa. The large Sikh and Hindu communities originated in India. There are also many Buddhist groups.

Political upheaval

Britain was governed under a mixed constitution, achieved through the Glorious Revolution of 1689. The monarch ruled in conjunction with the two houses of parliament. All three parties were closely involved in political decisions.

Gradually, however, the House of Commons and the prime minister assumed more political control than had been the case under the Stuarts.

Parliament existed under an unreformed system until the Great Reform Act of 1832. Thus for virtually all the period from 1714 to 1837, members of the Commons and Lords came from the landed interest.

Enough of the existing political system survived to ensure that wealth and land were the basis of power.

They were unpaid as politicians and were elected in open ballots. The franchise was limited to a small minority of Protestant adult males. Westminster and Whitehall dominated the British political stage, though vigorous political debates occurred outside their confines.

Ireland was granted legislative independence in 1782, but the chief executive roles in Dublin were British appointees. The Irish parliament was dissolved when the Act of Union (1801) created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Two main parties, the Whigs and Tories, were prominent in politics but there were nearly always over a hundred independent members of parliament who needed to be persuaded on issues and bills.

Radical groups - such as the supporters of John Wilkes in the 1760s the corresponding societies of the 1790s and the Hampden clubs founded in 1812 - all pressed for parliamentary reform. But it was not until after the Napoleonic Wars that a fully-fledged reform movement emerged with a mass platform.

The repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts (1828) and the granting of Catholic emancipation (1829) introduced political rights for Protestant dissenters and Roman Catholics.

These concessions were followed by the Whig Party introducing, after much struggle, the Great Reform Act. This revised existing parliamentary constituencies and extended the franchise moderately, but it did not introduce a secret ballot or parliamentary democracy.

Enough of the existing political system survived to ensure that wealth and land were the basis of power until at least the mid-Victorian period. The continued exclusion of the working man from the franchise provided the impetus for Chartism in the later 1830s.

Largest Ethnic Groups In The United Kingdom (Great Britain)

A diverse group of British college students illustrate the United Kingdom's changing demographic landscape.

In the United Kingdom, a census is conducted after every ten years. According to the 2011 census, the United Kingdom had a total population of 63,181,775, making it the 3 rd most populous in the European Union and the 22 nd most populous in the world. Immigration has contributed to the high population growth that has been experienced in the country in the last decade. The immigrants together with the natives compose the various ethnic groups in Great Britain. The indigenous British are believed to be descendants of the various ethnic groups that settled in the Great Britain before the 11th Century including the Romans, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and Celts. The largest ethnic groups in the United Kingdom are looked at below.

White Europeans

White Europeans, or the White British people, are a racial classification for the people belonging to various ethnic European ancestries. In 2011, the White British population accounted for 87.1% of the entire United Kingdom’s population. The white European population included the population in the Northern Ireland. The majority of the white European (64%) in the United Kingdom is between the age of 16 and 64. White European (65%) are predominantly Christians, mostly Anglican while 25% have no religion. The unemployment rate among the White European is lower than the other ethnic group. The White European also dominates other ethnic groups in the political, social and economic sectors in the Great Britain.

Black British and Afro-Caribbean

Black British and the Afro-Caribbean are groups of people of the Caribbean and former British colonies who trace their origins to Africa. The Afro-Caribbean culture arose in the 16 th and 17 th Centuries during the triangular trade that was led by the Europeans who brought Africans to European-held colonies in the new World to work as slaves. The Africans who moved into Europe intermarried with the native Europeans leading to the formation of the Afro-Caribbean. Great Britain, France, and Netherlands have the highest number of Afro-Caribbean. In the United Kingdom, the Black British form 3% of the total population. The Black British speak a variety of English dialect. The dialect has been influenced by Jamaican Patois and the social class. Most of the Afro-Caribbean are found in big and across the United Kingdom, especially in London. The majority of Black British have faced a significant amount of racism with discrimination in employment, housing, and other social facilities. Racist Crime continues to plague the Afro-Caribbean with the media coverage of focusing more on the crimes involving the Black. The police have also been accused of racism when dealing with criminals and also when carrying out inspections.


The British Indian community totals over one million, thus representing 2.3% of the national population. The Indian people in the United Kingdom are of Indian origin or have their ancestry coming from India. Indian culture in the United Kingdom is similar to that practiced in India and other parts of the world. The culture is an amalgamation of different cultures which have been shaped over a long period. The culture is characterized by philosophy, literature, architecture, and music. Most of these Indian people in the United Kingdom are Buddhists and Hindus. The Indian dressing and clothing is unique and distinct and is influenced by culture. Women wear saris while men wear angarkhs. Just as with Indians anywhere else, their food often includes lentils, rice, wheat flour, and pearled barley.


  • Imperial British Army (Ground Forces)
  • Royal Naval Service (Royal Marines and Navy)
  • Royal Air Force (Airship Fleet)
  • Royal Colonial Corp

The armed forces of the United Kingdom — officially, Her Majesty's Armed Forces—consist of three professional service branches: the Royal Navy and Royal Marines (forming the Naval Service), the Imperial British Army and the Royal Air Force. The forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence and controlled by the Defence Council, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Commander-in-Chief is the British monarch, Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear an oath of allegiance. The Armed Forces are charged with protecting the UK and its overseas territories, promoting the UK's global security interests and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. Overseas garrisons and facilities are maintained across the empire.

United Kingdom

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales: The term United Kingdom refers to the collective body of nations made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The four cut a wide swath of territory across the eastern face of Europe, in spite of being geographically apart from the rest of the continent by virtue of separation by the North and Irish Seas, the Strait of Dover, and the English Channel. The four countries, over time, have experienced transformations in coastline, climate, and vegetation, as well as changing values, culture, and governments. Changes in the educational systems of the four nations of the United Kingdom have been dramatic, but at no time have changes been more extensive than the 1990s and first years of the twenty-first century following attempts to dissolve the House of Lords in England and accomplishment of devolution in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.

In this essay, references are to the mother country of England, except where headings or internal references clearly refer to the individual countries of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Although the countries have many similarities, the differences are important to acknowledge. The reader is urged to refer to the Ireland essay for earlier references to the north of Ireland. The political creation of Northern Ireland is a relatively recent historical event, traceable to the British putdown of an Irish rebellion in the seventeenth century, followed by its peopling of the six counties of the Ulster region with British and Scottish settlers of the Anglican faith. In 2001, Wales commenced a significant breakthrough for self-rule when it took large control of its system of higher education. Also, the Scottish Parliament has the power to pass or repeal legislation passed by the English Parliament, including education acts, or to amend portions of statutes.

Roman Occupation: The early inhabitants of Britain were pre-literate hunters, eventually cut off from the rest of Europe by the submerging of land under the waters of what became known as the English Channel. Extensive research by archaeologists in the twenty-first century has started to cast some light on early peoples of this area.

Protected by fierce inhabitants and a rugged climate, England was considered a prize for conquest and began to undergo attacks from Rome. Well known to any beginning student of Latin are the campaigns by Julius Caesar in 55 and 54 B.C. immortalized by his own writings his early biographers paint a portrait of a much crueler conqueror than the self-image he presents.

Rome's attack on tribal leaders in Wales in the first century have become well known to twentieth-century players of fantasy games, because of the valiant, though doomed, fight of the Iceni warriors under Queen Boudicca, referred to by one Hollywood screenwriter as "a female Braveheart." Her story is dramatic. After being whipped and subject to vile indignities, including the rapes of her daughters, Boudicca massacred the residents of towns pledging allegiance to Rome until a counteroffensive wiped out her armies, and she committed suicide by taking poison. In spite of such furious fighting and heavy cost in lives, the Romans defeated the Welsh clans, failing to subjugate them. Little by little, however, their culture began reflecting the influence of Celtic Catholic missionaries among the Welsh people.

Likewise, the Roman forces relentlessly invaded Scotland, repelled the clans known as the Picts, and declared the country under its rule. For all practical purposes, Scotland's rugged geography, particularly in the Highlands and its numerous adjacent islands, left the Romans hardly in control of the defiant clans and their allied clans from Ireland, the Celts. Nonetheless, Rome did have some influence on the Scottish people during five centuries of occupation, in part because of the preaching of Christian missionaries.

Post-Roman Times, Invasions, & Power Struggles: In the fourth century, Roman Emperor Constant I gave his namesake son, Constantine II, the conquered lands of Britain, Gaul, and Spain, but he gave the remainder of the empire to another son, Constans I. The unhappy Constantine II waged war on his brother but was cut down and killed during a battle in Italy. In the fifth century, the Romans pulled out of the lands they had fought so hard to win, driven out themselves after years of assault by fierce warriors they dismissed as barbarian hordes. In addition to the clans, invasions to the vulnerable east and south of England came from Denmark and northern Germany from warlike peoples known as the Angles, the Jutes, and the Saxons. The latter, collectively called the Anglo-Saxons about the sixteenth century, later used the term themselves as they grew settled and became farmers or town dwellers. Eventually, the term "Anglo-Saxon" embraced all in Britain.

The Roman and British peoples of Wales also faced the invaders, but some pockets of the culture remained where they avoided enslavement. In general, culture and civilization declined until the seventh century when the Church of Rome sent missionaries to England and established monasteries dedicated to the preservation of learning and the transmission of culture and religion in written works. The immediate effect was to make the United Kingdom countries more open to trade and to developing the trappings of civilization already in place in other countries of Europe. Monasteries in the sixth and seventh centuries spread over Ireland and Scotland as well as England, though the politics of the time were chaotic, as kingdoms wielded power and waged conflict in these countries.

By the tenth and eleventh centuries, parish churches were a reality in the Anglo-Saxon country of England, as they were elsewhere in Europe. However, instability in England and Ireland continued because of attacks by seas and rivers by marauding Vikings. Attacks by Danish warriors had begun in the eighth and ninth centuries, resulting in the destruction of monasteries and their manuscripts. The scholar-king Alfred the Great, king of Wessexin England, defeated the Danes in London in 886 and at Edington in 878. Had he been defeated, the Danes would have controlled England's main kingdoms in the ninth century. In addition to his heroics as a leader and contributions to the development of English law, Alfred was known for his championing of Old English literature and the translation of Latin classical writings into English.

Alfred's contributions to learning made him a heroic figure of that era. In other areas, pandemonium was the rule. Ireland and Scotland were infiltrated by Norse warriors, who also sacked some monasteries in a quest for the abundant loot within. Alfred was the first ruler in a succession of rulers of Wessex who gained power for themselves, even as they drove out the powerful Scandinavians. The defeated Danes were assimilated and adopted Christianity. Rather than peace reigning, the kingdoms of Wessex and the West Saxons vied for power Scotland was also invaded. In the end, Eadred emerged as the one supreme ruler of England. His successor, Eadgar, was crowned king, and his reign (957-975) brought stability to the country and an alliance with England's large, widespread Danish population.

Ireland and Scotland experienced upheaval at the hands of invaders and men that vied for supreme rule. Battles for power were common between the ninth and twelfth centuries. The politics of Wales between the ninth and twelfth century were marked by almost constant intrigue, assassinations, battles, truces, and treaties.

Danish & Norman Rule: The persistent Danes continued to pour into England in their quest to subjugate England. At last, Denmark's King Swein prevailed early in the eleventh century, driving England's Aethelred the Unready into exile in Normandy. King Swein died, but his successor-son Cnut finished the fight against England, reigning as king of England from 1016 to 1035, as well as the kingdom of Demark from 1019 until his death. Like Alfred the Great, Cnut was a champion of the preservation of learning in the monasteries. His children were less wise and squabbled for power.

The English regained control of the kingdom of Wessex between 1042 and 1066 under King Edward the Confessor, a son of Aethelred. Edward's death brought conflict between two men, William, the Duke of Normandy, and Harold, who claimed that the dead king had promised them the throne. Harold was given the crown and was occupied with an invasion by the Norwegians in the north. Although Harold's army prevailed, they were weakened and fell to a crushing attack in the south of England led by William, and Harold fell in battle. On Christmas Day, William the Conqueror was proclaimed King of England, and though he kept alive the English laws and customs, the French language and other customs led to immense cultural changes during this Norman occupation.

The Middle Ages: The history of England from 1066 through the end of the fifteenth century is usually told through the accomplishments and failures of whatever monarch ruled at a particular time. Throughout this period, England experienced unity and prosperity to a greater degree than did Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. A system known as feudalism that was rampant in other parts of Europe became the norm in England as lords of manors extracted work and rents from their serfs, and knights served their lords, the supreme king, and the Church, marching on Crusades to try to wrest the Holy Lands from the Muslims.

Royal power was, for a time, at its height during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189), who elevated the power of royal courts of law and put down attempts of feudal barons who challenged his unlimited powers.

Perhaps Britain's best-known constitutional document directly linked to feudalism was the Magna Carta of 1215. Signed by King John, known for his political inveigling and battles with the Pope, this "Great Charter," signed as a sign of appeasement by the embattled monarch, offered protections to the feudal lords that not even royalty could usurp, but it also guaranteed certain rights and privileges for the Church and even some rights for royal subjects.

Throughout the Middle Ages, an uneasy relationship existed between English kings and barons. The various Crusades continued until 1291, and wars against France and other kingdoms were commonplace, costly, and counterproductive&mdashseemingly designed to satisfy the vanity or rulers or their desire for the acquisition of lands. The long reign of Henry III (son of King John) from 1216 to 1272 was marked by the waste of human lives in war and by great expenditures to satisfy Henry's lust for lands in France and Sicily. His successor, King Henry IV, achieved the throne by force and established the Lancaster dynasty, but during his reign (1399-1413), he constantly needed to dispatch the royal troops to put down rebellions by the Scots and Welsh. Far more popular (and later immortalized by playwright William Shakespeare), King Henry V also engaged in great wars during his reign from 1413 to 1422, but he mainly kept the allegiance of his people because of his personal magnetism and the number of his great, yet costly, victories against the French.

Like Alfred the Saxon, King Henry VI was a proponent of literature and learning, a patron of artists, and the founder of Eton College in 1440. However, he was a king unfit for governing, ruling at a time (1422-1461 and 1470-1471) of great unrest in England. He was murdered by Edward. Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, contributed significantly to the support of universities, according to scholar Michael Van Cleave Alexander.

A later ruler, Henry VIII, who reigned from 1509 to 1547, was a ruthless husband notorious for putting two of his six wives (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) to death. However, learning and great universities flourished under him. Henry VIII tried, unsuccessfully, to end fighting with Scotland by uniting the two nations. Warring with Scotland continued under his reign, but one of his successes was to bring Wales into the kingdom in 1536, although Wales retained its culture and the Welsh language. Scotland's destiny changed from that of a separate kingdom to part of the United Kingdom under King James I of England, whose other title was Scotland's James VI as the son of Mary Queen of Scots, who was forced to abdicate and later executed.

The Victorian Era: Queen Victoria ascended the throne at a time of unrest and unhappiness with royalty, particularly during the reign of the dissolute King William IV who ruled from 1830 to 1837. Nonetheless, during his era was the start of important changes in England, including recognition for the strengthening of human rights. The Factory Act was passed in 1833, which eliminated, on paper if not in fact, the practice of child labor. In addition, slavery was abolished in the United Kingdom and its possessions by another historically important act. Although William IV gave some words of support to such reforms, he was befuddled by them and distressed by a growing clamor for political and social change in the United Kingdom.

Strong nationalistic feelings and greater national unity occurred during the reign of William IV's niece, Victoria, who ascended the throne in 1837 and ruled as queen of the United Kingdom until 1901. Influenced greatly by her husband, Prince Albert, whom she wed in 1840, Queen Victoria set a town for moral reform and a toning down of the more scandalous conduct of the nobles that had been commonplace before her reign. In education, her reign produced strong attempts to introduce literacy to all of the United Kingdom because of an 1870 act of Parliament establishing compulsory elementary education.

The Modern Era: From Victoria's death in 1901 through the twenty-first century, the United Kingdom has seen periods of calm and prosperity as well as unstable times caused by two world wars, strong nationalism on the part of English colonies, and the assimilation, particularly in England, of immigrants with diverse backgrounds.

A national system of education was adopted for England and Wales in 1902. By 1944, the system had developed strong local governing bodies for the schools, and yet there was a central administration as well. In 1922, Northern Ireland received a separate Parliament, while the Parliament in London governed England, Scotland and Wales.

As of 1998, the United Kingdom's population tallies at 58.8 million. The largest nation, England, has a population of 49.1 million. Scotland's population is 5.1 million. Wales has a population of 2.9 million, and Northern Ireland's population is 1.7 million people.

Scotland does not control the universities, but it does govern primary and secondary education. In 2001, the term "United" in United Kingdom is nearly a misnomer all four UK countries have separate educational systems. Northern Ireland and Wales Assemblies, as well as the Scottish Parliament, are empowered to keep existing laws regarding education and governance, or they can repeal or amend existing legislation.

As this volume goes to press, the climate in the United Kingdom can be characterized as one of uncertainty, but also one of great nationalistic excitement and an opportunity for positive changes that reflect each individual nation's needs. Illiteracy rates in Wales are high and troubling. English schools need to solve the challenges of a diverse population with many immigrants. While Scotland remains stable with its own educational curriculum and a stable higher education system, Northern Ireland continues to adjust as it carries on with an uneasy political alliance with Ireland. The needs of England's urban, heavily populated island contrast sharply with those of less-populated, mixed urban and rural cultures of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Traditionally, in England the Labor Party has advocated regulation, reform, or abolishment of elite schools in spite of their historical traditions. The Conservative Party favors the status quo and protection of these institutions. Without question, the most significant proposals for reform after 1900 have occurred between 1992 and 1991 as English reformers have attempted to alter the makeup of the House of Lords to reflect the changing democratic society in England. Loud cries for the abolition of the House of Lords arose from numerous critics in 1974 with the election of the Labor Party that considered the House of Lords to be an anachronism and a remnant of an earlier England. The Conservative Party reacted with attacks on the Labor Party. In 1999, the government moved ahead to make major changes in the composition of the House of Lords, and most observers of social conditions in England anticipated additional party bickering and legislation regarding the ongoing House of Lords controversy in the twenty-first century.


note 1: the percentage area breakdown of the four UK countries is: England 53%, Scotland 32%, Wales 9%, and Northern Ireland 6%

note 2: includes Rockall and the Shetland Islands, which are part of Scotland

note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia, no overseas territories

note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba the base boundary is 28.5 km

tsunamis volcanoes earthquake activity around Pacific Basin hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast mud slides in California forest fires in the west flooding permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development

volcanism: volcanic activity in the Hawaiian Islands, Western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and in the Northern Mariana Islands both Mauna Loa (4,170 m) in Hawaii and Mount Rainier (4,392 m) in Washington have been deemed Decade Volcanoes by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations Pavlof (2,519 m) is the most active volcano in Alaska's Aleutian Arc and poses a significant threat to air travel since the area constitutes a major flight path between North America and East Asia St. Helens (2,549 m), famous for the devastating 1980 eruption, remains active today numerous other historically active volcanoes exist, mostly concentrated in the Aleutian arc and Hawaii they include: in Alaska: Aniakchak, Augustine, Chiginagak, Fourpeaked, Iliamna, Katmai, Kupreanof, Martin, Novarupta, Redoubt, Spurr, Wrangell, Trident, Ugashik-Peulik, Ukinrek Maars, Veniaminof in Hawaii: Haleakala, Kilauea, Loihi in the Northern Mariana Islands: Anatahan and in the Pacific Northwest: Mount Baker, Mount Hood see note 2 under "Geography - note"

note 1: world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India) Denali (Mt. McKinley) is the highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent

note 2: the western coast of the United States and southern coast of Alaska lie along the Ring of Fire, a belt of active volcanoes and earthquake epicenters bordering the Pacific Ocean up to 90% of the world's earthquakes and some 75% of the world's volcanoes occur within the Ring of Fire

note 3: the Aleutian Islands are a chain of volcanic islands that divide the Bering Sea (north) from the main Pacific Ocean (south) they extend about 1,800 km westward from the Alaskan Peninsula the archipelago consists of 14 larger islands, 55 smaller islands, and hundreds of islets there are 41 active volcanoes on the islands, which together form a large northern section of the Ring of Fire

note 4: Mammoth Cave, in west-central Kentucky, is the world's longest known cave system with more than 650 km (405 miles) of surveyed passageways, which is nearly twice as long as the second-longest cave system, the Sac Actun underwater cave in Mexico - the world's longest underwater cave system (see "Geography - note" under Mexico)

note 5: Kazumura Cave on the island of Hawaii is the world's longest and deepest lava tube cave it has been surveyed at 66 km (41 mi) long and 1,102 m (3,614 ft) deep

note 6: Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio, Texas is the world's largest bat cave it is the summer home to the largest colony of bats in the world an estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost in the cave from March to October making it the world's largest known concentration of mammals


Lone parent households

Definition: The number of households containing a lone-parent family (at least one child under the age of 15 with only one parent present), expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: Lone parent families are defined as one parent (married, widowed or single) living with at least one unmarried child aged under 15. Because the census recorded each person where they happened to be on census night, rather than where they usually lived, it is impossible to tell if an absent husband or wife of a married parent was permanently or temporarily absent from the household. In the Victorian censuses, a household was not necessarily just a family: it may have included others living in the dwelling, such as boarders, servants, or more distant relatives. The census forms asked each individual to identify their relationship to the head of the household, and it is this variable which is used to identify family relationships. It is relatively easy to identify the spouse and children of the head of household, but more difficult to identify family groups which do not include the head. For example if a &lsquograndchild&rsquo was present in a household, it may not be obvious to which, if any, of the head&rsquos children that grandchild belonged. Thus this variable may undercount lone-parent families if a link between a parent and a child cannot be made, but overcount them when a parent-child link can be made but the link between parents is missed. The particularly low percentages of lone parent families in Oxfordshire and Berkshire in 1851 are likely to be connected to transcription issues making it difficult to make parent-child links. Other people (relatives or non-relatives) may also be present in a household with a lone-parent family.

See also: Illegitimate birth rate Illegitimacy ratio

Overview: The percentage of households containing a lone-parent family declined steadily from some time in the period between 1860 and 1880. This is almost certainly due to the decrease in adult mortality which started in the 1870s. Most instances of family dissolution in the nineteenth century were caused by the death of either the husband or the wife - divorce was difficult, expensive and out of reach of the majority of the population. As today, the majority of lone-parent families were headed by a mother rather than a father. Partly this was because men tended to die before women: not only was male mortality higher at each age, but husbands were on average a little older than their wives. However it is also the case that widowed men were more likely to get re-married than widowed women, or for their children to be sent to live with another family member (the census data do not allow us to routinely distinguish couples who have re-married from couples on their first marriage). Some lone-parent families may have been composed of unmarried mothers and children, but while illegitimacy was not uncommon in this era it is difficult to identify illegitimate children in the census, even those living with their mother, so lone-parent families of this type are likely to be undercounted in these data. It is possible that some unmarried mothers reported themselves as married in order to preserve their respectability. It is noticeable that the patterns of lone-parent families in different types of place do not correspond with illegitimate birth rates, suggesting that unmarried mothers with their children do not form a major component of lone-parent families.

Declines in households containing lone-parent families in every type of place reflect the widespread nature of the declines in adult mortality. However the somewhat higher levels of such households in TRANSPORT areas probably reflect the differing likelihood of fathers to have been temporarily working elsewhere. The temporary absence of sailors, drivers, carters etc. can explain the particularly high prevalence of lone-parent households in the fishing communities in the North West, the South West, and Wales. AGRICULTURAL areas had low levels of lone-parent households, and the fact that the census was deliberately held in the spring when seasonal agricultural labour migration was low might help explain this. However adult mortality was also lower in healthy rural areas than in towns and this will also have contributed to the lower prevalence of lone-parent households.

Single person households

Definition: Households containing only one person, expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: The number of households containing only one person is divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100. It might seem easy to define a household, but for the nineteenth century it is actually quite problematic. This is because families often rented out part of their homes under a variety of arrangements: from boarders who paid rent, ate with the family and may even have shared a bedroom with them, to lodgers who rented a separate floor or apartment. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the census instructions were not always clear about how to treat boarders and lodgers, let alone the grey areas in between (such as someone renting a room and using the kitchen). Lodgers were supposed to be recorded in households of their own. In some years census instructions to householders and enumerators made this more likely to have happened, and consequently the percentage of households containing only one person was higher, and the percentage containing boarders or more distant relatives (who may have also paid rent) was lower.

See also: Households with boarders Households with kin Elderly per working age adults

Overview: The fluctuations in the percentage of single-person households before 1891 can probably be attributed to the ambiguities in the definition of household (see Calculation). Therefore the percentage of households containing only one person was probably rather stable over time in this time period, at about 6 per cent (in contrast, 17 per cent of households contained only one person in 1971 and in 2016 this figure had risen to 28%). As today, single person households were mainly made up of two demographic groups: the elderly (particularly widows and widowers) and young adults who had not yet entered a relationship. The latter were also likely to be boarders or lodgers and it is probable that the fluctuations in single-person households were mainly due to treatment of the household position of younger adults.

Although the overall trend was probably actually rather flat, the proportion of households containing only one person varied considerably geographically and by type of place. Single person households were particularly rare in industrial areas especially those dominated by mining, metal work, and textiles. In contrast, people in AGRICULTURAL and PROFESSIONAL places were more likely to have lived alone. There are several factors which may have contributed to these geographic differences: the growth of industry means that there was considerable migration from agricultural areas to take up industrial jobs. This kept the proportion of elderly people (and thus potential single-person households) in industrial populations low. The other side of this coin is the movement of young adults away from the countryside, where the elderly therefore formed a larger share of the population. The high proportions of single-person households in PROFESSIONAL areas were, however, largely due to the many, probably unmarried, young men who lived in single-person lodger households. In 1881 there is a large dip in the proportion of single-person households, but a corresponding increase in the proportion of households containing boarders: in that year, it appears, lodgers were likely more likely to have been classed as boarders in the census.

Households with boarders

Definition: Households containing at least one boarder, expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: Boarders were defined as people renting a room or bed in someone else's house, and taking meals with the householder's family. They can be identified by 'boarder' being written in the 'relationship to household head' column on the census form. A household has been classed as containing boarders if at least one person was identified as a boarder, and the number of households with boarders has been divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100. There was some fluctuation in the percentage of households with boarders because of confusion between boarders and lodgers. Boarders shared space and food with the family while lodgers rented a separate space and were supposed to be recorded as separate households. However the census instructions regarding this were not always clear, particularly before 1891, and it may not always have been obvious if a person was a boarder or a lodger. There was also potential confusion between boarders and relatives, as some relatives may have paid rent and qualified as both, but only one relationship could be recorded.

See also: Households with kin Single-person households

Overview: Around 11 per cent of households in England and Wales contained boarders in each census year from 1851 to 1911, with the exception of 1881 when a higher percentage probably reflects a higher likelihood of sub-letters being classified as lodgers rather than boarders. Although there was little change over time in this period, there was considerable geographical variation. The maps show that in AGRICULTURAL areas around 9 per cent of households had boarders, while in MINING areas the figure was closer to 15 per cent, with boarding being most common in the South Wales coal field, where in many districts over 18 per cent of households contained at least one boarder. Mining was a strongly growing industrial sector at this time, with an influx of young men migrating to work there, so it is possible that high proportions of boarders reflected the failure of the housing stock in South Wales to keep up with demand. In contrast, AGRICULTURAL areas were characterised by out-migration, so pressure on housing was likely to have been lower, but again there was regional variation: the predominantly agricultural areas of South East England in Sussex and Kent show relatively high proportions of households with boarders.

Two types of place show marked change in the proportions of boarders over time, although it is important not to read too much into changes, given the definition issues mentioned in the Calculation section. In PROFESSIONAL areas the prevalence of boarders increased over time (ignoring the blip in 1881 which is probably because more people were classed as lodgers rather than boarders in that year), while in TEXTILE areas the percentages of households with boarders decreased. These changes may be connected to the relative buoyancy of the economy in these places: by the end of the 19th century the growth of the textile industry had slowed, and jobs could be filled by local workers who were more likely to already have a place to live. PROFESSIONAL areas were growing strongly, however, and migrants coming to work in the blue collar and service sectors may have opted to board as this provided affordable accommodation.

Households with kin

Definition: Households containing people related to the head other than his/her immediate family, expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: The head's immediate family has been defined as either his wife (or her husband) and his or her unmarried children or, if he or she is unmarried, his or her parents (and siblings too, but only if at least one parent is present). Any other people whose relationship to head suggests a family relationship (eg mother or mother-in-law of a married head, grand-child, niece or nephew) have been treated as relatives or kin. Any household with at least one person defined this way has been treated as a household with kin. The number of households with kin has been divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100.

See also: Households with boarders Single-person households Lone-parent households.

Overview: Living with family more distant than the immediate family group was rare in the British past. In most of the census years fewer than 2 per cent of households contained kin (including situations where parents and married children lived together, and grandchildren lived with grandparents). In contrast around 11 per cent of households contained boarders and until 1911, over 10 per cent contained live-in servants. Fluctuations in the early census years are likely to have been due to legibility of sources and coding issues, but there appears to have been a slight and consistent increase in the percentage of households with kin towards the end of the 19th and into the 20th century. This increase was similar in every type of place, although levels varied, which suggests that it may be a function of a general demographic trend such as a mortality decline. Although elderly people did not routinely live with their married children (as discussed in the section on single-person households many ended up living alone), these types of relationship were still the most common among households with kin, and a decline in late adult mortality may have increased the length of time this type of household would have survived for before the parent died, and thus increased the chance of capturing them in the census snap-shot. Alternatively an increase in celibacy could have led to more adult siblings living with their married brother or sister (&lsquothe rise of the &lsquolive-in&rsquo maiden aunt&rsquo). Finally housing shortages may have made staying with kin a more sought-after option rather than boarding or lodging.

Industrial areas had slightly higher percentages of households with kin than other types of place, although this was not visible in MINING areas at the beginning of the period. It is possible that this was due to chain migration: migrants may have generated further migration among their relatives and these new migrants may have stayed, at least initially, with their relatives when they arrived. However there may also have been cultural differences in the living arrangements of the elderly.

Households with live-in servants

Definition: Households which had at least one live-in servant (excluding those specifically designated as farm servants), expressed as a percentage of all households.

Calculation: This indicator has been calculated by classing each household where there was at least one person whose relationship to the head of household was given as 'servant' as a servant-keeping household. The number of servant-keeping households was then divided by the total number of households and multiplied by 100.

See also: Social class RG's class Domestic servants (women) Single women working.

Overview: During the pre-industrial and industrialising periods of British history, it was very common for young people to spend a period of time as a live-in servant in another family's household. This usually occurred between the late teens and mid-twenties, and was particularly common among women, allowing them to save up money which would allow them to contribute towards the setting up of an independent household when they married. This institution of domestic service was in decline, however from at least the mid-nineteenth century. In England and Wales as a whole the percentage of households which had at least one live-in servant declined from about 16 per cent in 1851 to about 9 per cent in 1911.

Only the better-off sections of society, of course, could afford to keep a permanent live-in servant purely to look after the household, although many farming households also employed domestic servants whose duties probably combined household and agricultural work. Therefore the maps show servant-keeping to be high in the hill-farming regions of Wales and the North of England. Comparatively high levels of live-in servant keeping can be seen in the suburbanising ring around London, but these PROFESSIONAL places, although they had far higher levels of servant-keeping in each year, also witnessed the fastest decline in the practice.

It should be remembered that this variables only measures live-in domestic service: some servants may have lived elsewhere and came in to work each day, or when needed.

U.K. Population 1950-2021

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U.K. Population 1950-2021

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Nation Facts .

The United Kingdom is located on the continent of Europe, and includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The country is a sovereign state whose capital is London. All of the United Kingdom has a population of 63.1 million people, while London is home to 8.1 million people. Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) is fully surrounded by water, with the Atlantic Ocean on its west, the North Sea on its north, the English Channel to the south and the Irish Sea to the west. The Irish Sea connects Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The flag of the United Kingdom is comprised of a white and red symmetric cross with an X behind the cross. Royal blue encompasses the background of the flag. The United Kingdom uses the pound sterling as their official currency through the entire country. There is no official religion in the country, but most people follow some form of Christianity. The official language of the country is English, with numerous different dialects spoken throughout the four countries.

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