Tracing The Movers From Herefordshire

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The West Midlands experienced extreme population changes through the eighteenth century but while Bilston mushroomed from 1,000 in 1700 to 5,000 in 1767, Birmingham grew from 9,000 in 1720 to 42,000 in 1778 and to 183,000 in 1841.

Worcester ‘only’ doubled in size between 1801 and 1841, but in Herefordshire eighteenth-century population growth was half the national average. So what was happening?

Herefordshire was a predominantly rural county in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which supplied migrants to other parts of the West Midlands and elsewhere. Before we can explain why they moved out of the county, we need a way of tracing actual individuals reliably. How can we be sure that the ‘Jane Smith’ baptised in a Herefordshire village in 1750 was the same ‘Jane’ who died in Birmingham in 1820, especially if she had married and changed her surname?

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