Late Georgian and Victorian Chester 1762-1914: Appendix, migration trends in the Chester region, 1801-1911

Pages 204-205

A History of the County of Chester: Volume 5 Part 1, the City of Chester: General History and Topography. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.

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This appendix outlines the methods used to derive estimates for net migration trends in the Chester region over the period 1801-1911. Estimates before 1851 (Table 24) are more tentative in view of the lack of statistics for births and deaths within the region. The natural increase of population in Cheshire between 1801 and 1831 has been estimated as 12.7 per 1,000. (fn. 1) That rate was applied to the population of Chester and its suburbs, subtracting the actual population increase to calculate an estimate for net migration in each decade.

Estimates for the period 1851-1911 (Table 25) have been derived from data for Chester registration district, which covered more than the city and its suburbs, including the rural hinterland, the Deeside industrial belt, and part of Ellesmere Port. The registration district was standardized on its 1871 boundaries, excluding Ellesmere Port, and the natural increase of population was calculated from the number of births and deaths recorded in the decennial census, allowing for possible under-registration. (fn. 2) For each decade the natural increase was apportioned pro rata between Chester and other parts of the registration district, and the figure for Chester was then subtracted from the actual decennial population change to calculate the net migration balance for Chester.

Emigration overseas probably formed a large element in migration trends from the Chester area after 1850, and two methods have been used to estimate its extent (Table 17). Estimate 1 involved using the figures for net emigration from England and Wales as a whole, (fn. 3) reducing the gross figures of emigrants by 39 per cent to allow for those who returned from overseas. (fn. 4) Overseas emigration from Chester was estimated by applying the national rate each decade pro rata to the population of the city and its suburbs at the start of the decade and subtracting the result from the estimate of overall net migration. The residual balance of regional migration for Chester and suburbs thus omits emigrants overseas.

Estimate 2 is an alternative and probably sounder estimate of emigration from Chester, based on more detailed figures of emigrants by county of birth. (fn. 5) The estimate for Chester is based on the average for those born in Cheshire, Denbighshire, and Flintshire, which themselves varied markedly.

TABLE 24: Estimated net migration, Chester and suburbs, 1801-51
Decade Estimated population at end of decade by natural increase Actual population at end of decade Estimated net migration
1791-1801 16,095
1801-11 18,258 17,344 -915
1811-21 19,679 21,516 +1,837
1821-31 24,408 23,029 -1,379
1831-41 26,128 25,039 -1,089
1841-51 28,406 29,216 +810

Source: See text.

The two estimates differ but show similar trends. Although they must therefore be used with caution, they suggest the possible significance of overseas emigrants within Chester's wider migration pattern.

TABLE 25: Estimated net migration, Chester region and Chester, 1851-1911
Decade Estimated natural increase, Chester registration district Estimated net migration Chester registration district Estimated net migration, Chester and suburbs
1851-61 +5,702 +564 +1,913
1861-71 +7,081 +1,552 +1,636
1871-81 +8,781 -5,696 -2,454
1881-91 +8,161 -5,105 -2,842
1891-1901 +7,485 -4,457 -453
1901-11 +8,799 -799 -2,713

Note: Using 1871 boundaries for registration district, excluding Ellesmere Port.

Source: See text.


  • 1. Deane and Cole, Brit. Econ. Growth, table 29.
  • 2. Using multipliers in E. A. Wrigley and R. S. Schofield, Population Hist. of Eng. 1541-1871, 636 (table A8.5).
  • 3. N. H. Carrier and J. R. Jeffery, External Migration, 92-3, table C(1).
  • 4. D. Baines, Migration in a Mature Economy: Emigration and Internal Migration in Eng. and Wales, 1861-1900, 131 and n.
  • 5. Ibid. chapter 4 and app. I.