The Reffell Family in 1911

A snapshot in time on Sunday 2 April 1911

One Hundred Years ago...

A comprehensive survey of the Reffell family of one hundred years ago..

A Snapshot in Time...

Sunday 2 April 1911 dawned an ordinary day in Edwardian Britain, but has become very important in genealogical terms by being the day that a snapshot of the Reffell family of that time was taken. Babies could be born the following day and people could have died the previous one, but if someone was alive on that Sunday then they should have been recorded in the 1911 census.

The 1911 England, Wales & Scotland census is the most detailed census to be released to date. With all the previous censuses the household schedules were destroyed once the details had been transferred into the enumerators' summary books. However for the England & Wales 1911 census both sets of records have been preserved, which means that the census documents filled out in our ancestor's own handwriting, complete with mistakes, misspellings & some additional comments are available to view online. Unfortunately this did not happen for the Scottish 1911 census.

The 1911 population of Great Britain & Ireland was 45,370,530 approximately 56% more than fifty years previously. This was made up of 17,445,608 males & 18,624,884 females in England & Wales, with a further 2,308,839 males & 2,452,065 females in Scotland. Thus the general male/female split at that time was still approximately 48 males for every 52 females.

The total number of people recorded in England, Wales and Scotland with the Reffell surname was just 165, a miniscule proportion of 0.00035% of the total population. This consisted of 76 males & 89 females, there being more females in the family than the national average. The most popular male name was William (there were eleven of them) and Mary was the most popular female name (with eight ). The average age was surprisingly low at just over 25 and the oldest was only 71 years old, which was very similar to those of fifty years previously.

The family had been largely London-based and there was still 82 of the family (just under 50%) living there, with other large branches in Surrey and Buckinghamshire. Smaller branches were to be found in Glamorganshire, Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Scotland. All had been born in the UK.

There was only one career soldier listed in the census, but of the 76 males recorded, 29 were to be directly enrolled into the armed services during the conflict that would start in just over three years time. Sadly, four of these would die in service.

There were many varied occupations listed including; farmers, a working jeweller, some cabmen, an ironmonger, a marine engineer, a retired Inland Revenue assistant, a coffee house proprietor and an auctioneer & surveyor. Also included were people connected with the brewing trade such as brewers (some of whom had retired) and a manager of a beer bottling works. There were also men employed on the railways, including a stationary engine driver, a porter and a night watchman on the South Eastern & Chatham Railway.

Predominantly a male working force, there were also more females working than previously with a surprisingly few listed as servants (28% of the working female population at that time whereas it had been 40% ten years earlier). Others were a pianoforte teacher, an office clerk, a barmaid, a restaurant cashier, a number of machinists, an examiner at an International school and an art student. Perhaps the strangest female occupation was an artificial teeth maker!