A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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ANALYSIS OF BISHOP COMPTON'S CENSUS OF 1676: ONGAR HUNDRED
In a letter of 1676 to Henry Compton, Bishop of London, Archbishop Sheldon required the bishop through the various archdeacons, parish clergy, and churchwardens, to compile an ecclesiastical census. (fn. 1) Compton was to inquire (i) the number of persons 'or at least families' who by 'common account and estimation' inhabited the respective parishes, (ii) how many popish recusants 'or such as are suspected of recusancy' there were among such inhabitants and (iii) how many 'other dissenters' were resident in the parishes.
These instructions are patently ambiguous. In particular, since detailed information about the method of parochial compilation is lacking, it is not clear whether the first column of the manuscript (fn. 2) census relates to conformists, as the manuscript would seem to suggest, or to the total of inhabitants as in some dioceses they seem to be. It is equally difficult to know whether the returns include all adults over 16, or only males over 16, or all inhabitants including children, or families or (as seems to have been the case in some dioceses) a mixture of some of these.
Printed below are abstracts of the returns for most of the parishes in Ongar hundred. No figures are given for Norton Mandeville, Abbess Roding or Theydon Garnon, although the parish names have been entered. The parishes of Loughton and Navestock are missing from the return.
The rearranged abstracts are here reproduced as they appear in the returns together with some guesses, where possible, at their proper interpretation, based on a comparison with fiscal data derived from the Hearth Tax Assessments printed above. (fn. 3) In all cases the first column headed 'conformists' has been understood to refer to the conformist element in the parishes and not to the total of inhabitants, &c.