A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
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Forty people were assessed for tax in Burton and Burton Extra townships in 1327. (fn. 1) The number of heads of households assessed for the poll tax of 1377, covering the whole parish, was 450, a figure similar to that for Stafford, over twice that for Tutbury, but 100 fewer than that for Newcastle-under-Lyme. (fn. 2) An assessment of 1524 listed 115 people in the borough and Burton Extra, giving a ranking on a par with Walsall but considerably below that for Lichfield. (fn. 3)
In 1546 the adult population of the parish was given as 1,800, although an Easter Book probably of the 1550s more precisely gives 1,394 adults, of whom 869 lived in the town. (fn. 4) In 1604 the parish population was said to be 1,500, making Burton rank with Uttoxeter and Eccleshall but below Tamworth and Walsall, with Lichfield still much more populous. (fn. 5) Thereafter Burton's population remained static. The poll tax assessment for 1660 listed just over 600 adults in Burton and 96 in Burton Extra, (fn. 1a) and in 1666 the number of households given in a hearth tax assessment, including those too poor to pay, was 318 in Burton and 43 in Burton Extra, giving a probable population of some 1,600. (fn. 2a)
A local census taken in Burton in 1789 recorded 2,926 inhabitants in Burton and 553 in Burton Extra. (fn. 3a) By the date of the first national census in 1801, the population of Burton township was 3,679, and it rose steadily to 4,863 by 1841 and then more sharply to 6,374 by 1851. Burton Extra's population was 716 in 1801, rising to 872 by 1811 and 910 by 1821; by 1841 it was 1,193, increasing to only 1,289 by 1851. Significant growth began in the 1850s: between 1851 and 1861 Burton's population increased by over a third to 9,534 and Burton Extra's doubled to 2,849. Although the population of Burton township had fallen to 9,450 by 1871 and 9,348 by 1881, Burton Extra's population more than doubled to 7,025 by 1871 and then nearly doubled again to 12,582 by 1881. (fn. 4a)
The part of Horninglow township added to the town in 1853 was sparsely populated, but by 1871 it had 3,697 residents, whilst the part of Burton Extra in the town had 6,993; the combined population of the whole town was therefore 20,124. (fn. 5a) In 1878 the municipal borough gained population from a further part of Horninglow and from parts of Branston, Stapenhill, and Winshill, making an estimated total population of 29,305. (fn. 6) During the 1880s the greatest expansion of the town took place in the Horninglow part of the borough, and by 1891, when ward population figures are first available, the population of Horninglow ward had risen to 14,474; there were then 8,245 residents in Burton ward, 14,773 in Burton Extra ward, and 8,282 in the combined Stapenhill and Winshill ward, making a total population of 46,047. (fn. 7) By 1900 the population was estimated to have reached the 50,000 mark, enabling the municipal borough to apply for county borough status, which was granted with effect from 1901. The exact population in 1901 was 50,386, the figures for the constituent wards being Burton (7,396), Burton Extra (16,116), Horninglow (16,857), Stapenhill (5,771), and Winshill (4,246). (fn. 8)
The population may have continued to rise for a few years after 1901, but by 1911 it had fallen to 48,266. (fn. 9) It was 48,909 in 1921, rising to 49,486 by 1931. The main area of decline was in the town centre (Broadway and Burton wards), and the main areas of increase in Horninglow, Stapenhill, and Winshill. By 1951 the total population had further declined to 49,167, rising to 50,751 by 1961 but falling again to 50,201 by 1971, 48,132 by 1981, and 46,920 by 1991. The decline was general, the only increases being in Shobnall ward and especially in Stapenhill ward. (fn. 1b)