Morals and population

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Eneas Mackenzie

Year published

1827

Pages

730-735

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'Morals and population', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 730-735. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43408 Date accessed: 23 September 2014.


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MORALS.

The character of the inhabitants of Newcastle is modified by a variety of circumstances peculiar to the town; but they are such as are favourable to the extension of useful knowledge, and the formation of moral habits. In large manufacturing towns, the children of the poor are very early set to work, and pushed prematurely into the class of men; while the continual crowd and bustle in which they are involved, and the monotony of their employments, are inimical to the growth of intellect, though a kind of automatical activity, with an air of forwardness, are thereby acquired. They move in crowds; and hence, when they suffer any temporary distress or deprivation, they easily receive the impulse given by bustling or designing individuals, and readily become infatuated by the arts of theological or political demagogues. Females also, by early and long confinement in large manufactories, generally lose that retiring modesty, and those cleanly, neat, domestic habits, which conduce so much to the production of virtue and happiness. In Newcastle the case is very different. Here boys pass through their various degrees more gradually, and seldom associate except in small parties. Their health is not destroyed, nor their spirits broken, by early confinement or sickening employments. Their characters when men therefore display much individuality; and though rather heavy and dull in appearance, their intellectual powers are usually solid and extensive. In public they are calm and dignified, and scarcely ever express their resentment in acts of riotous violence. Indeed, they seldom display their political opinions or prejudices in any public form; but, when roused, their conduct is temperate, firm, and imposing. This singular exemption from political agitation may, in a great measure, be attributed to the wise moderation of the magistracy, who permit the utmost freedom of discussion, and resist the arts of weak and designing alarmists. During the frenzy that prevailed at the commencement of the French revolution, and the more recent movements of the Parliamentary Reformers, the numerous political enthusiasts of this town were never betrayed into any act either illegal or unbecoming; because the municipal body, instead of attempting to control the public effervescence, suffered it gradually to subside, and generally avoided the agitation of political questions, but wisely confined their courtly addresses to their own body.

The general steadiness of the trade of this town is likewise peculiarly favourable to the morals of the working classes. The sober and the industrious may always obtain employment; and wages never fluctuate as in manufacturing districts. The cheapness of fuel also contributes to render the poor man's home comfortable, and to bind the domestic circle; while the easy access which all the poor have to the means of instruction tends to spread an intellectual light over the family board. Nor are the social relations of the inhabitants much disturbed by those religious antipathies which prevail in other places. This harmony is greatly promoted by the ministers of the Established Church, who are distinguished for liberality and affability of manners. Perhaps in no town where Dissenters are so numerous, and where religious zeal is so fervent, does there exist more of that genuine charity which "condemneth not in others what we allow in ourselves."

The richer classes in Newcastle consist of the descendants of ancient and distinguished mercantile families, or of those who have accumulated a fortune by a long exercise of superior knowledge and industry. They are therefore well-informed, polite, and unostentatious; and to the influence of their manners may the respectful demeanour of the other classes be mainly attributed. Few can make a rapid fortune in Newcastle. Hence, the insolent, vulgar, purse-proud upstarts, that swarm in some places, are almost unknown here. The gentry in Newcastle, it must be confessed, are not exempt from those political and religious antipathies which disturb the peace and sour the comforts of society; but the general concerns of trade, and the infrequency of electioneering contests, diminish their inveteracy. When differences between the enemies and the friends of innovation do occur, they are speedily terminated without attracting much attention. In acts of benevolence they cordially unite, as the flourishing state of our numerous charities testify; and in real patriotism there is no difference, as was evinced by the general zeal for the internal defence of the country during the late war.

Strangers from London often remark on the number of tall men in Newcastle, the elegance and chasteness of the ladies' dresses, and the tasteful arrangements exhibited by the shopkeepers. (fn. 1) The two latter circumstances may perhaps arise from the constant and extensive intercourse that exists between Newcastle and London. There are, it is believed, more people in proportion in Newcastle who have visited the me tropolis, than in many towns two hundred miles nearer to it. Hence even our mechanics excel in their different avocations, and are not inferior to any workmen in England. A town enjoying so many advantages might be expected to produce writers, statesmen, and artists, calculated to reflect honour on the British name. To prove that this is actually the case, it is only necessary to peruse the biographical notices scattered through the preceding pages. (fn. 2)

POPULATION.

In the accounts of the capitation tax, granted by parliament to Richard II. in 1377, for the payment of four-pence for every lay-person of either sex above 14 years of age, the whole population of Newcastle was estimated at 3970 souls, of whom 2647 were taxable. In 1781, according to the books of the window-cess, Newcastle contained 2389 houses, and, by Hutton's calculation, 30,000 inhabitants. By the returns in 1801, there were 3141 inhabited houses, 6847 families, and 28,294 inhabitants. The following is a statement of the parliamentary returns for the years 1811 and 1821 :— POPULATION.

HOUSES. OCCUPATIONS. MALES FEMALES. TOTAL.
1811 Inhabited. By how many families occupied. Building Uninhabited. Families Chiefly employed in agriculture. Families cheifly employed in trade, manufactures, or handcraft. All other families not comprised in the two precceing classes.
All Saints' 1522 3663 9 68 3 2634 1031 6027 8144 14171
St.Andrew's 661 867 1 13 2 861 4 1961 2823 4784
St. John's 598 976 12 11 818 147 2008 2458 4466
St. Nicholas' 365 950 12 742 208 1920 2246 4166
Total 3146 6461 10 105 16 5055 1390 11916 15671 27587
1821.
All Saints' 1872 4180 14 145 5 3847 328 7493 9062 16555
St. Andrew's 846 1624 22 40 28 1019 577 3099 4132 7231
St. John's 770 1407 6 42 7 1125 275 2889 3401 6290
St. Nicholas' 543 1086 4 13 5 1055 26 2444 2661 5105
Total 4031 8297 46 240 45 7046 1206 15925 19256 35181
YEARS. CHRISTENINGS. MARRIAGES. BURIALS.
St. Nich. All Saints. St. John St. Andr. Tot. St. Nich. All Sts. St. John. St. Andr. Ballast Hills. Friends Total.
M. F. M. F. M. F. M. F. M. F. M. F. M. F. M. F. M. F.
1801 40 47 230 223 55 66 43 52 756 258 39 36 70 73 67 51 43 55 500 1 935
1802 62 65 231 232 54 49 51 46 790 377 27 43 88 77 57 65 61 47 672 2 1139
1803 59 56 274 235 57 52 60 56 849 405 47 41 78 74 73 65 44 46 350 210 5 1033
1804 73 65 271 223 77 61 59 51 880 398 42 37 63 51 45 52 40 54 208 202 5 799
1805 76 59 280 248 72 72 64 57 928 400 53 52 61 71 72 67 62 63 510 4 1015
1806 56 67 279 254 81 54 55 56 882 391 41 42 67 55 72 60 62 52 221 204 1 877
1807 68 68 279 275 84 60 75 50 959 360 39 42 49 81 76 57 62 55 208 177 3 849
1808 77 63 271 265 76 49 62 78 941 392 42 33 82 63 54 56 66 60 236 249 2 943
1809 75 54 247 228 69 71 75 76 895 354 30 43 42 50 56 55 49 40 165 159 3 692
1810 88 77 241 227 55 73 77 71 909 323 29 44 53 61 62 59 55 60 238 221 5 887
1811 71 109 235 243 80 90 63 62 853 382 45 23 51 56 65 72 67 59 176 189 3 806
1812 64 81 215 227 79 69 76 74 885 360 57 33 61 60 58 79 63 67 241 242 2 963
1813 105 71 200 205 111 103 104 85 984 333 29 48 56 50 68 78 69 62 240 243 1 944
1814 103 70 201 191 83 76 87 89 900 354 29 26 54 58 61 66 53 54 224 218 3 846
1815 85 90 258 260 196 92 91 1072 432 44 33 78 49 138 60 75 177 185 4 843
1816 73 64 264 234 103 81 97 93 1029 428 37 44 49 54 75 64 62 50 226 200 2 863
1817 61 52 256 292 104 98 114 80 1057 418 37 38 46 58 55 65 68 64 216 207 3 859
1818 76 60 292 276 120 98 90 79 1091 434 28 43 59 60 75 73 51 61 289 295 6 1040
1819 62 84 298 294 115 100 104 97 944 418 39 38 48 44 87 82 76 71 294 316 6 1101
1820 76 70 329 326 116 112 92 80 1201 479 30 29 47 53 70 73 65 74 273 269 3 936
1821 73 87 343 302 129 88 77 80 1179 540 35 30 57 49 92 52 119 104 263 264 23 1067
1822 92 94 355 368 109 145 122 111 1396 462 28 28 56 47 77 100 73 67 287 269 1 1033
1823 88 83 345 355 141 125 133 118 1388 465 34 34 62 73 74 75 57 78 263 261 6 1017
1824 92 96 363 354 143 128 142 111 1429 560 33 39 71 78 90 103 109 126 405 400 4 1458
1825 91 81 356 323 149 117 136 116 1369 601 46 36 50 61 89 79 95 94 318 324 5 1195
1826 95 107 371 394 98 79 160 159 1463 667 43 27 52 78 139 164 104 97 312 332 5 1353

Parish of St. Mary, Gateshead.

YRS. CHRISTENINGS. MARR. BURIALS. YRS. CHRISTENINGS. MARR. BURIALS.
M. F. TOT. M. F. TOT M. F. TOT M. F. TOT.
1801 104 82 186 116 155 184 339 1814 149 144 293 93 100 100 200
1802 99 127 226 109 138 146 284 1815 194 189 383 86 122 98 220
1803 112 142 254 105 146 116 262 1816 165 150 315 77 94 96 190
1804 144 152 296 77 123 103 226 1817 189 178 367 57 112 110 222
1805 123 124 247 73 122 125 247 1818 149 161 310 79 122 137 259
1806 117 127 244 51 82 92 174 1819 210 177 387 66 149 134 283
1807 126 93 219 53 91 96 187 1820 209 195 404 73 122 100 222
1808 150 144 294 62 106 101 207 1821 212 177 389 75 141 134 275
1809 158 138 296 64 110 102 212 1822 222 219 441 90 149 130 279
1810 168 149 317 72 82 113 195 1823 196 226 422 93 108 116 224
1811 153 148 301 74 104 96 200 1824 267 223 490 114 173 161 334
1812 142 146 288 68 81 125 206 1825 205 203 408 121 143 137 280
1813 152 132 284 62 117 104 221 1826 189 176 365 83 145 136 281

From the preceding returns, it appears that the town of Newcastle, in 1821, contained 4031 inhabited houses, and 35,181 inhabitants; but if the townships of Westgate, Elswick, Benwell, Jesmond, Fenham, Heaton, and Byker, be included, then the four parishes of the town contained 5144 inhabited houses, and 43,177 inhabitants; and, by adding Gateshead parish, the whole five parishes then contained 6742 inhabited houses, and 54,944 inhabitants.

The tables of marriages, baptisms, and deaths, afford much curious data to persons who are curious in calculations relating to human life. They are, however, necessarily defective; for the births of infants born of parents who are Quakers, Baptists, or belong to some other sects, are not registered. The number of children baptized in the Roman Catholic chapel was 105 in 1824, 95 in 1825, and 120 in 1826. Many marriages of the inhabitants are solemnized in the adjoining parishes. We may, however, safely infer the important fact, that the period of human life at Newcastle, as well as at other places, is extending; (fn. 3) for notwithstanding the great increase of population during the last 26 years, the number of deaths have not materially increased. (fn. 4) This favourable change may be, in a great measure, attributed to increased temperance, cleanliness, and improved medical skill. By the returns in 1821, there were, in Newcastle and Gateshead, 3912 more females than males.

The following is the amount of assessed taxes and county-rates paid by the inhabitants of Newcastle. The assessed duties, for the year ending April, 5, 1827, were as follows:—

£. s. d.
Houses and windows 3470 4 3
Inhabited houses 6731 4 4
Male servants 1083 10 0
Carriages, &c. 1011 15 0
Riding horses 508 7 3
Other horses and mules 52 10 0
Dogs 261 8 0
Horse-dealers 25 0 0
Hair-powder 27 0 6
Armorial bearings 135 12 0
Game duty 226 13 6
5 per cent, composition 46 6 7
General total £13,579 11 5

In 1814, the assessed taxes for Newcastle produced £19,568, 0s. 4½d.
The amount of cash received as county-rate within the town and county of Newcastle, on an average of five years, from 1818 to 1822 inclusive, was £2220 per annum. The following is the treasurer's account for the year ending at the Epiphany sessions, 1827:—

"PAYMENTS. RECEIPTS.
£. s. d. £. s. d.
Expenses of criminal prosecutions, ordered to be paid to prosecutors 652 13 9 The balance due from the treasurer on last year's account 595 10 7
Charges for the gaol, including conveyance of convicts 734 12 1 Amount of two county-rates of £600 each 1200 0 0
Charges for the house of correction 543 4 3 Amount of two county-rates of £450 each 900 0 0
Conveyance of his majesty's baggage 45 10 8
Charges attending the militia
Charges for lodging and conveying Scotch and Irish paupers 76 19 6
Charges of coroners 105 0 0
Charges of the clerk of the peace 129 15 1
Incidents, including treasurer's salary, clerk of assize fee, printing, stamps, &c. 246 5 7
By balance in the hands of the treasurer 161 9 8
£2695 10 7 £2695 10 7

Easter sessions, 26th April, 1827.
Examined and allowed by us,
Arch. Reed, Mayor.
Henry Cramlington.
Robert Bell."

From Michaelmas, 1810, to Michaelmas, 1820, the corporation expended, on the repair of the streets, £37,227, 6s. 3d. which averages £3722, 14s. 7½d. a year.

Footnotes

1 The singular practice of engaging women as labourers to bricklayers and slaters impresses strangers with an unfavourable and erroneous idea of the delicacy and humanity of the inhabitants. As the gentlemen seem not to have sufficient gallantry to reform this abuse, we hope that the ladies will exert themselves successfully in abolishing a custom so disgraceful to the town, and in providing employments more suitable and becoming for those poor girls than that of mounting high ladders, and crawling over the tops of houses.
2 Mary Astell was too eminent in literature to be omitted in the history of her native town. She was born about 1668. Her father was a merchant; but she was chiefly instructed by her uncle, a clergyman. At the age of 20, she removed to Chelsea, where she spent the remainder of her life. She had then learned Italian, French, Logic, Philosophy, and the Mathematics. Her letters on the Love of God appeared in 1695, and, in the following year, two treatises on the Defects in Female Education. The queen, it is said, was so pleased with her method of remedying this evil, that she intended to give £10,000 towards erecting a female college; but Bishop Burnet persuaded her majesty to drop the design. About seven years after this, Miss Astell published "An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex;" and the preface to her "Reflections on Marriage" contains the strongest defence that ever appeared of the rights and abilities of her own sex. In 1704, she entered into a controversy with Dr. D'Avenant, which contributed greatly to her fame. She wrote on several other subjects, studied very diligently the best classic writers, and at the same time was distinguished for her social and entertaining powers. She lived very abstemiously, and enjoyed uninterrupted health until a few years before her death, when a cancer in her breast brought on a gradual decay. She died May 24, 1731, in the 63d year of her age.
Newcastle has also the honour of having given birth to Sir Stephen Brown. He was the son of John Brown, a grocer, and was knighted and chosen Lord Mayor of London, in 1438, for the uncommon zeal and disinterested charity he employed in mitigating the terrors of a great famine and pestilence, which raged that year in England and France. The poor people were forced to make themselves bread of fern roots. Sir Stephen, at his own charge, sent several ships to Dantzic, to purchase rye, with which they so speedily returned as to depress the markets, and check the ravages of famine. He was one of the first who shewed the way to the Baltic markets in times of scarcity.
Thomas Houston, a brass-founder in Newcastle, was the author of "The Race to Hell,"—"Progress of Madness,"—"Poems, Odes, and Songs,"—"The Term-day, or the Unjust Steward," a comedy, and some other pieces of considerable merit. He died December 27, 1803, in the Infirmary, at the early age of 26 years.
The poetic productions of Thomas Beding field, Esq. and Mr. George Pickering, were published in 1815. These two geniuses were coadjutors and friends, in the law office of the late Messrs. Davidson of Newcastle. The former died a barrister in the Inner Temple in 1789; and the latter some time after went to Manchester, where he was known by the name of George Henry Williams. In September, 1825, he was removed in a state of insanity to Simonburn, his native parish; and shortly after died in his sister's house.
3 Newcastle and Gateshead seem to afford an amazing number of instances of longevity, as the following list, taken from Sykes' Local Records, will shew:—
                                        Aged                      Died in
Isabel Darling,               111 years,               1757.
Ralph Hart,                   116                         1764.
John Richardson,           101                        1766.
Jane Wilson,                 101                         1767.
Cicily Fenwick,             113                         1768.
William Wood,             113                         1769.
His brother,                  110                         1760.
Mr. Westgarth,             100                         1769.
Elizabeth Roy,               100                         1774.
Cuthbert Foster,           101                         1776.
Ann Forster,                 123                         1777.
Mrs. Waters,                103                         1777.
John Manners,              107                         1782.
Mary Tate,                   116                         1783.
John Wilson,                105                         1783.
Hannah Richardson      102                         1786.
Elizabeth Cowey,         102                         1787.
Ann Clark,                   101 years,               1791.
Margt. Pearson,           104                         1793.
Margt. Robson,            103                         1800.
Ann Parkin,                  104                         1804.
Mrs. Kidd,                   103                         1805.
Ann Maddison,             103                         1806.
Elizabeth Bickett,          103                         1807.
Ann Angus,                   101                         1808.
Mrs. Graham,               104                         1808.
Dorothy Turnbull,          107                        1808.
Mary Huntley,               102                         1809.
Mary Walker,               102                         1810.
Mrs. Robinson,             111                         1810.
Richard Bently,             101                         1811.
Sarah Gibson,               102                         1811.
Margaret Clark,             105                         1812.
Isabella Sharpe,             114                         1812.
William Gantney,            102 years,               1813.
Mary Taylor,                  103                         1814.
Ann Corby,                   105                         1814.
Ann Carpenter,              110                         1816.
Jane Jowsey,                 104                         1816.
Ann Tindall,                   100                         1817.
Sarah Foster,                 109                         1817.
Ann Moulter,                 102                         1817.
Ann Hamilton,               100                         1818.
Margaret Purvis,            100                         1819.
John Anderson,              103                         1819.
Elizabeth Dryden,           107                         1821.
Barbara Humble             101                         1821.
Mary Robinson,             105                         1823.
Jane Downie,                 100                         1823.
Thomas Gustard,            103                         1826.
4 "The annual mortality seems to have decreased from one in forty to one in fifty-eight, nearly one-third in forty years."— Abstract of the answers and returns to the Population Act, 1 Geo. IV. Prelim. Obs. 26.
Since the consecration of St. John's church on Gateshead Fell, in 1825, the deaths, christenings, and marriages in the new parish and rectory of the Fell, have been kept in a separate register.


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