1902 Encyclopedia > London > London - Growth; Nationalities; Tables of Population

(Part 5)


Growth. Nationalities. Tables of Population.

For some centuries after the Conquest there are almost no date for a estimate of the extent and population of London, but a great impulse was given to its increase by the settlement of Normans and theopening up of intercourse with the Continent. The statement of Fitztephen that it furnished, in the reign of Stephen, 60,000 men-at arms and 20,000 knights cannot be accepted as applying only to the City. Peter of Blois, under Henry II., only estimated its numbers of 40,000, although he may possibly have referred only to adults (Opera, ed. Giles, vol. ii. p. 85). In any case, previous to the great plague of 1349 it must have numbered at least 90,000 for in that year, according to Stow, as many as 50,000 persons were buried in the cemetery of Spitalcroft, specially consecrated for the purposes. There were severe ravages from the same cause in 1361 and 1369; and the calculation of Chalmes (Comparative Estimate of Great Britain, 1802), founded on the Subsidy Rolls of 1377, shows a population of only 34,971; but the emperor Manuel II., who visited it in 1400, states that it was to be preferred to every city of the West for population, opulence, and luxury (Macpherson, Annals of Commerce, vol. i. p. 611). Notwithstanding the regulations of Elizabeth for checking its growth, London had by the end of the century advanced considerably beyond its old boundaries. Giovanni Botero, writing about 1590, classes it with Naples, Lisbon, Prague, and Ghent as possessing about 160,000 inhabitants more or less, while Paris was said to possess over 400,000 inhabitants. The "Bills of Mortality," which were begun in 1592, were in 1604 extended to St Bartholomew the Great, Bridewell Precinct, and Trinity in the Minories, which were partly within the City liberties, and to St Clements Danes, St Giles-in-the-Fields, St James (Clerkenwell), St Catherine (Tower), St Leonard (Shoreditch), St Mary in White chapel, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and St Mary Magdalen (Bermondsey). St Mary at the Savoy was added in 1606, and Westminster in 1626. the parishes, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Newington, Rotherhithe, and Stepney, which were included in 1636, were, accorsing to Graunt (Observations on the Bills of Mortality, 1676), still country villages in 1672, and indeed occupied an isolated position up to the middle of the 18th century. The result of the census of the city taken in 1631 is given by Graunt as 130,178, but the sum of his details is 130,268. by 1661 he reckoned it to have increased to 179,000. He also concluded that the population within the limits of the "Bills of Mortality" was 460,000, and that from the beginning of the century it had increased from 2 to 5. The population of London and its suburbs, excluding Westminster and the distant parishes, he placed at 384,000, or about a fourth less than Paris. Notwithstanding the plague of 1665 and the fire of 1666, London towards the close of the 17th century increased with great rapidity. Evelyn, writing in 1684, states that it had nearly doubled within his own recollection. Sir William Petty, in his essay on Political lArithmetic, estimated the population in 1683, including that of Westminster and Southwark, at 696,000, but Gregory King, in his Observations on the State of England, first published by Chalmers, allowing 5 _ persons to every house, makes it in 1694, within the limits of the "Bills of Mortality" only 530,000. From about this period London superseded Paris as the largest city in Europe. During he first half of the 18th century its progress was fluctuating, but on the peace of 1763 a great impulse was given to its prosperity, and after 1780 a rapid rate of progress commenced, which still shows no signs of diminution. Until 1756 there was sufficient space for the Mayfair east of Hyde Park, but by the end of the century the aristocracy had nearly all migrated west from Covert Garden and Soho. Islington was still almost disjoined from the metropolis, but the great eastern suburbs had become so consolidated as almost to absorb even Hoxton, Bethnal Green, and Stepney. The first census of 1801 included St Pancras, Marylebone, Paddington, Kensington, and Chelsea, but Chelsea was still a solitary suburdan retreat, Kensington was little more than "the old court suburb," Paddington and Westhourne were rural hamlets, and Marylebone and St Pancras had less than one-fourth of their present population. The populous city surrounding Regent’s Park had scarcely any existence before 1820, but by 1830 it as well as Somers Town had become absorbed in the metropolis, especially by additions in the neighborhood of St Pancras church and London university. Eastwards the most rapid extension had been in the direction of Greenwich, which was no united with Lambeth by a continuous line of houses. Belgravia in the south-west, and Tyburnia to the north of Hyde Park are chiefly the product of the next twenty years. Since that period the suburban districts have in all directions become almost consolidated, and beyond the present limits of the registrar-general fringes of houses, extending in some instances outside even the 12 miles circuit from Charing Cross, connect the metropolis with populous towns which a few years ago were solitary hamlets. Within the last twenty years the rate of increase of the outer ring of this greater London has been 126.8 per cent., while that of London proper has been only 36.0, its outer ring showing an increase of 63.8 per cent., but its central area a decrease of 13.2- the decrease in the City being 54.8, in the Strand 30.5, St Giles 16.3, Holborn 9.5, Westminster 11.9, St George’s (Hanover Square) and Marylebone 4.1, and in the eastern central districts of Whitechapel, St George-in-the-East, and Shoreditch 9.6, 3.8, and 2.2 respectively. In these latter districts the decrease has been occasioned chiefly by improvements, but in the central business districts it is almost entirely the result of the substitution of business premises for dwelling houses.. The day census of the City taken in 1866 shows that the number of persons employed daily within its limits was 170,133, and that of 1881 gives a day population of 261,061, while the night population in 1871 was 74,897 and in 1881 only 50,526. The rapidity of the growth of London is largely due to the peculiar development of its trade and commerce, and is also closely connected with the interests excited by politics and the meetings of parliament. The bonds of connection between London and England thus pulsate daily with a manifold vitality. London is the emporium of England, the center of its great monetary transactions, the home of its science, literature, and art, and the yearly resort of its aristocratic and landed proprietor classes. Since the beginning of the century its rate of increase has exceeded that of England generally.

The proportion of inhabitants born outside its limits amounts to one-third of its entire population. The number of the natives of European states is in excess of those born in Scotland, and that of the natives of Ireland is about double, while the natives of the counties of England and Wales amount to more than million. Irishmen by descent may be estimated at about 250,000 persons, Scots 120,000, foreigners 200,000, vix. Asiatics, Africans, and Americans together 45,000, Europeans 155,000 (Germans 60,000, French 30,000, Dutch 15,000, Poles 12,000, Italians 7500, Swiss 5000). The number of Jews is about 40,000. The special foreign district lies in the neighborhood of Ratcliff Highway, now St George Street. The lower-class Jews inhabit the neighborhood of Houndsditch and Aldgate. The Italian street musicians and vendors of ices form a small colony near Hatton Garden.

Table II. shows the percentage of the population of London to the rest of England, the numbers before 1801 being only approximate; Table III. the areas, houses, and population of London in various governmental divisions; and Table IV. the population of the several registration district at different periods from 1801.


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London - Table of Contents

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