[The first census of the British Empire.] Two documents printed for Earl Grey at the Colonial Office: Major Graham's 'Memorandum' of 'suggestions' on how to take a colonial census; and a letter from Grey instructing colonial governors to prepare one.

Major George Graham (1801-1888), Registrar General of England and Wales, 1842-1879; Earl Grey [Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey (1802-1894)] [Sir Frederick Peel (1823-1906), Liberal MP]
Publication details: 
[HMSO, London.] The Major Graham document, dated from the General Register Office [Somerset House, London], 7 December 1848. The Grey circular dated from Downing Street, 20 January 1849.
SKU: 21160

Two printed documents: the first carrying Major Graham's 'Memorandum' of 'suggestions respecting the mode of taking a Census in each of our Colonial Posssessions', together with his observations on the making up of 'Statistical Abstracts', a specimen 'Form of Return' and a covering letter; the second a circular letter from Earl Grey, instructing colonial governors 'to cause a Return of the Population of the Colony under your Government to be prepared'. For the background to these two documents, see A. J. Christopher, 'The quest for a census of the British Empire c.1840-1940', Journal of Historical Geography, April 2008. No other copies of the present documents, which were privately printed by Her Majesty's Stationery Office for Grey, as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, have been discovered. This printing was intended for direct distribution to civil servants and MPs, and certainly pre-dates the first publication of the items (in, for example, the journals of the legislative councils of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, both in 1849). Disbound from a collection of parliamentary papers assembled by Sir Frederick Peel (1823-1906), Liberal MP for Leominster, who was Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, 1851-1854; and Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1854-1855. No printed pagination, but the volume as a whole was paginated in Peel's hand. Both items are in good condition. ONE: The 'Copy of Major Graham's Letter, together with a Copy of the Memorandum to which it refers', referred to by Grey in Item Two below. 4pp, foolscap 8vo. Paginated by Peel 163-166. Bifolium on grey paper. The first page carries a transcript, including a facsimile signature, of a letter from George Graham to 'B. Hawes, Esq., M.P.' (1797-1862, later Sir Benjamin Hawes), of the Colonial Office. Graham suggests 'that it may perhaps be expedient that steps should be taken to secure a Census being made in each of our Colonies, in 1851, on or about the same day, that Parliament may fix for its being taken in this Country', and begins his letter with reference to 'some suggestions respecting the mode of taking a Census in each of our Colonial Possessions', which six year before Graham 'transmitted for the use of the Secretary of State for the Colonies some suggestions respecting the mode of taking a Census in each of our Colonial Possessions, as requested by Lord Stanley'. Graham is now 'about to publish the Population of England and Wales', and has 'also been furnished with the latest returns of the Population in several Countries in Europe'. It occurs to Graham 'that it might be desirable also to publish the Population of our Colonial Possessions', and he asks Hawes to 'have the goodness to call the attention of Earl Grey to this subject', and to request 'that I may be furnished with Abstracts of the Population of such of our Colonies as may have made returns upon the subject, to the Colonial Office'. The letter contains two references to Graham's brother, and the man who appointed him to his post, 'Secretary Sir James Graham'. The second page, headed 'Memorandum' of what he describes in the letter to Hawes as 'some suggestions respecting the mode of taking a Census in each of our Colonial Possessions'. The third page, headed 'Statistical Abstracts', again carries a facsimile of Graham's signature, to a document dated 5 August 1842, addressed from the General Register Office, Somerset House. The communication begins: 'The enumerators should not be called upon to make the Abstract, but should transmit the Schedules in books of a convenient form to the seat of Government; where the Abstracts should be made on an uniform plan under proper supervision.' Three examples are given of 'the great variety of ways' by which 'the facts might be combined'. The final page is headed 'Form of Return', and gives the fictitious example of the return for the family of 'John Bromley', 'English, 'Farmer', who entered the colony ('COLONY. | District – County? | Town or Parish? | Ward?') in June 1827. TWO: Transcript of 'Circular' letter from Earl Grey (to the governors of colonies), directing that colonial censuses should be prepared. (Peel has written the word 'Census' at the head of the page.) Downing Street, 20 January 1849. 1p, foolscap 8vo. Paginated by Peel 161. Signed by Grey: '/sd/ Grey' (why Grey would himself write '/sd/' is not clear). Printed in type imitating copperplate handwriting. The letter begins: 'A Census of the Population of England and Wales will be taken in the year 1851, and the Registrar General has suggested to me that it would be desirable to publish a similar Return for all Her Majesty's Colonial Possessions.' He is transmitting Item One above (in margin: '7th December. | Memo. 1842. | Form.'). The letter continues: 'I have to instruct you to cause a Return of the Population of the Colony under your Government to be prepared, in the manner prescribed in the annexed Form, as far as may be practicable, without incurring expenditure which cannot be conveniently provided for.' Graham's suggestion 'that it would be desirable that a Census in each of the Colonies should, if possible, be taken on or about the same day as that on which it may be fixed to be taken in this Country, […] can of course only be acted upon in the event of the Legislature of [blank space here] having it in contemplation to direct such a Return to be made'. He suggests that in such cases Graham's 'recommendation' be submitted to the consideration of the legislatures. It seems (see Wikipedia) that Australia didn't have a NATIONAL census until 1911 (though states submitted figures before), Canada in 1871 etc. Clause 4 of the Memorandum sates: "It will be desirable where there is a difficulty in obtaining information respecting the Aborigines to confine the enquiry to males aged 20 years and upwards - the 'fighting men [...] The supposed number of females of all ages, and males under the age of 20, may, however, be stated."