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Retrieval Number: 0101/3
List of inhabitants of the Parish of Sackville, 1803.
Mount Allison University Archives, Westmorland County, New Brunswick, Census Collection.
May be reproduced only with permission of Mount Allison University Archives.

list of inhabitants of the parish of Sackville.

Colonial Legislatures passed Acts requiring local authorities to file population returns from time to time, but routine detailed civil census taking did not become established in the British North American colonies in a comprehensive way until the 1850s. It is therefore unusual to find documents that provide the researcher with a means to systematically identify who resided in an area for dates prior to 1850. In the absence of such “nominal” census in which heads of households are named, local censuses such as this one are a “gold mine” not only because of the information they provide for genealogical researchers, but also because they allow scholars to assess the demographic and social details of the settlement. This document however, poses some challenges. The writer of the document provides a tally of people in each category, but this sum does not equate with the numbers shown when the columns are added up. There appear to be 56 people unaccounted for in the surviving document, suggesting that there may be a page missing. From what is provided in this document, we can see that the population of Sackville, which in this case would consist of Sackville Parish, totaled 566 people. By count this consisted of 124 men assumed to be heads of households, and 110 women. There were 201 persons under the age of 10 years and 131 persons over the age of 10. Each of these categories are ambiguous. We might assume that the latter categories distinguish “children” under and over the age of 10, and that some of those in the category of men and women were themselves grown-up children of male and female heads of households, but there is no indication at what age one passes from being regarded as a child and become an adult. Nevertheless, in a crude way this document permits us to see household composition and to identify the families forming the community at the start of the 19th century. What is apparent is that more than a third of the population was aged 10 years or younger while those who can be viewed as older children formed just over 20 percent of the population. It was then a community of young families.

Setting aside the 14 names that seem to be single individuals living on their own, the remaining 99 households had an average of 6 inhabitants; with the largest household consisting of 15 people, and several comprised of 11 or 12 people. There is only one instance of what might be presumed to be a widow left with a young family. Moreover, given that adult males outnumbered adult females 134 to 121 it would seem that marriage partners were in short supply and widows might expect to find new partners quickly. An analysis of the surnames suggests that most families had relatives living in the community and to this extent the web of kin-connections must have been an important supportive system both in terms of family relations but also for pooled labour and other economic activities. These observations suggest that the Sackville settlement was one displaying many of the classic attributes of a frontier “settler society” entering the second generation at this location. It consisted of a robust, healthy and no doubt prospering population benefitting from an equality of opportunity to obtain an abundance of land and thereby support a large family. Finally the census takers, William Kay, James Smith and Benjamin Reid, suggest by means of a brief notation to the document that they intend “to add new families next time” pointing perhaps to the arrival of newcomers in the Parish who were not as yet settled.

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Sackville, New Brunswick
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