In Context

Appleby In Focus

Alan Roberts' History Articles

Memories of Appleby

A Tour of the Village


Parish Records & Censuses

Search the Site


Contact Us

Appleby Village Web Site

parchment logo

Appleby History > Miscellany > Researching Appleby

Researching Appleby

Gerald Box writes on the problems of delving into Appleby's past

To the seeker after knowledge of the real Appleby the middle ground is bare.  Nicholls, the acknowledged Eighteenth Century Leicestershire antiquarian gives a typical detailed rendering of the lineage of ancient families and their monuments.  More recently, Richard Dunmore has provided This Noble Foundation, an academic account of the Sir John Moore School.   These works both fall within what modern historians would define as elitist history.  

Aubrey Moore  (A Son of the Rectory, 1982) offered something more useful in a very readable, gossipy account of the village mostly in late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century times.  But this, too, must be allowed as emanating from the elitist standpoint of the parsonage cum squierearchy.

If  there have been popular historians - it would be un-PC to describe them as working class - then their work has yet to be published.

 This leaves the student to trawl such archives as exist, make personal judgements of documentary evidence and submit these to scrutiny. 

A very good starting point is the Leicestershire Record Office where copies of the county’s national Census are held. The series starts in 1841 which was the date of the first national fully comprehensive secular census.  We are familiar with this process which has continued at ten yearly intervals (excepting for 1941) ever since.  In 1841 for the first time, officials were appointed to set down the names of everyone under every roof on June 6, their sex, age to within five years, occupation, trade or profession, whether born in or out of the county and if born in any other country than England.  

The “enumerators” as they were known, worked street by street through every civil parish in the country.  Thus using only the most simple analysis, we are enabled to assemble a factual picture of any road and hence our village.  Presenting such a picture then leaves it open to any party to put - in popular jargon - their own spin upon it.

Appleby falls within a particular group of parishes which demand caution by the analyst. This is because some communities sat astride an administrative boundary.  Obtaining a comprehensive picture for Appleby thus requires the consultation of two sets of records for the early censuses.  But this may be found by some to add to the delight of the pursuit of knowledge.  It does not apply to every road in the parish.   One uncomplicated road, known to us as Duck Lake is recorded in the first Census  quite unequivocally as Duck Paddle and provides a useful social snapshot from 1841.

For the conclusions of the Duck Lake census, and more about this old Appleby lane, see the Duck Lake page on our History Tour.

There is a 100 year embargo (Heaven knows why - ten years may be reasonable - one day we shall get a Freedom of Information Act) on the publication of the census.  This means that it will be 2001 before the 1901 Appleby data is released just as the data to be collected that year will not be available until 2101.   For those interested, the 1891 census is available and this may be the most useful of all to date. It can be fairly closely related to the 1883 first edition of the 25 inch to one mile Ordnance Survey sheets, also in the Record Office.  At that scale, individual buildings are shown which, together with the fact that the censuses as they progressed decennially, garnered more and more personal detail, enables the student to build up better and better pictures.  Talking of which, by 1891 there would have been photographs somewhere about.



Back to Top