An extract from the Sweeting Lecture 17th January 1889.
In the census of 1801 the population of Maxey and Deeping Gate was 457; in 1831, 576; 1841,611; 1851, 411: 1861, 419; 1871, 474; 1881, 592. We see then for the first 40 years of the century there was a gradual increase until it exceeded 600, and then suddenly fell to 411, or lost one third of its inhabitants. What special reason there was for this I do not know, but since that time it has gradually increased again up to the last census in 1881. We have no exact record of the population before the present century, but we can make a fair estimate at one or two periods. Thus in 1724 the whole parish, along with Deeping gate, is described as having 90 houses? We may fairly conclude that there were then about 360 persons. This would be 20 less than in Maxey alone at the last census. Our population seems now again to be diminishing and having calculated as nearly as I can the present number of persons in Maxey, I believe there are 327: which would be 53 less than 8 years ago. There are here now 90 or 91 houses and in Deeping Gate 48 or 49. Now in country places in the 16th and 17th centuries the mortality rate is considered to have been, speaking roughly, 30 to 35 in the thousand. This means that out of a town or village with 1000 people 30 to 35 would die each year, and so if we can take the number of deaths in any place for thirty years together, we should get pretty nearly the number of inhabitants. Adopting this plan, I should say from counting the number of deaths entered in the register, that the population of the whole parish in 1550 was 270; in 1600, 180; in 1700, 360. This last agrees with the number of houses we find a few years later, and also shows that that these changes occurred before the present century, and that the population at one time increased and at another time diminished without apparent cause. And now I am able to show what the population was some 200 years earlier still. Only last year I found in the Record Office in London the account of the inhabitants with the names of the householders in the reign of Edward III i.e. in 1378, 511 years ago. The list was made for the purpose of granting a 10th or 15th of every man's personal estate for the King's use. Each man's name is given, and the sum he had to pay. I may be able to say something about those names next time: at present I only speak of them as helping us to form an idea of the population, and I find the parish then separately as consisting of four parts, Makeseye, Leholm(Lolham),Nunton and the Deeping Gate part. And very oddly the total number of names, no doubt the exact number of houses was 90, the same number as in 1724. At that time, consequently, we may put the population at 360. But there is no doubt that in the 11th or 12th centuries, for instance, there could not have been more that 35 or 40 houses in Maxey itself. And this brings me to notice one point which puzzles most people and which is generally the first thing noticed by strangers, I mean the fact that the church is so far away from the village. When I was speaking on this matter 5 years ago I said I saw some reason to suppose that when the church was built, the number of houses in the village here was very much smaller than now, and that the number at Nunton and Lolham was larger, and if there were so then the position of the church would be the most convenient place that could have been fixed upon, as being about equally distant from the chief centres of life in the place. And that as time went on, and more houses were built, these were built near the house of the royal manor and near the town of Deeping. I said this before I discovered the paper in the record office I have just described. I find in it a gratifying confirmation of what I then said, for I find in this paper that there were 50 persons to be taxed in Maxey, 12 at Lolham and 11 at Nunton while there were only 17 in Deeping Gate. We can hardly picture Lolham with a dozen houses. Now there are 19 houses in Deeping Gate, 8 at Nunton and Lolham together. In 1378 there were more in Nunton and Lolham than at Deeping Gate.
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