1851 Religious Census

From: Church and Chapel in Oxfordshire 1851: The return of the census of religious worship. Ed. Kate Tiller. Oxfordshire Record Society. Vol 55, 1987.

[page xi] On Sunday 30 March 1851, everyone attending a place of worship in England and Wales was counted for a national governmental census of accommodation and attendance at worship... The religious census was conducted at the same time as the decennial population census and an attempted education census. 

[page vxii] [There was] resistance to the returns in many places including Finmere. 

[page xviii] At Mixbury the Revd. W.J. Palmer sharply remarked that 'The Statutes 13 & 14 Vict. c. 53 [cited at the top of all the 1851 census forms] do not appear to relate to the subject of this form' and wrote no more. Puzzlingly he duly returned attendance figures for his other parish of Finmere.

[page 38] 166. Finmere. Population 399. HO 129/164/20. ST MICHAEL'S PARISH CHURCH. On 30 March. In the morning 220; in the afternoon 220. Average attendance 220. In morning 220; in afternoon 220. Signed W.J. Palmer Rector. 

Note by Andy Boddington

It is notable that Palmer quotes an attendance of 220 throughout. It is true that he was strict on attendance but it is as likely that he gave an arbitrary figure in defiance. There were 229 people in Finmere aged 18 or over in 1851 and 400 in total. Palmer's responses at Mixbury and Finmere are in keeping with his increasingly cantankerous character.