Census records - What does it mean when a 9-year-old child is recorded as "at home"?

+9 votes
I have found a census record with a relative age 9 that has her occupation as being at home. Can someone correct me if i am wrong but does that mean because of her age she was being educated at home.
in The Tree House by Steph Meredith G2G6 Mach 6 (68.7k points)
edited by Ellen Smith
Stephanie, I took the liberty of expanding upon the heading for your question because I think the topic is interesting and deserves more attention.
thats  cool Ellen thank you

3 Answers

+10 votes
That would probably depend on which census it was Stephanie and whether the family were wealthy or not.

In earlier years it would be unlikely to be home schooling unless there was substantial wealth. More likely that she was doing domestic work at home if it was a working class family. Was there a mother in the household? This may be a case of a daughter already taking care of her father and siblings at a young age if the mother is gone.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (620k points)

yes she is living with both her parents and sister in 1851 

  • 1851 census: "England and Wales Census, 1851," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SGP3-78G : 28 July 2017), Selina Reason in household of John Reason, Pawlett, Somerset, England; citing Pawlett, Somerset, England, p. 21, from "1851 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.
selina reasons is the one i added
Hi Lynda,

Having looked ar the census and see the the father was a brick yard labourer, and given the year , I believe that Selina was kept from School to help with home chores,  possible her mother was not well and needed help in the house.   Literacy was not common with the working class so home schooling I don’t believe was an option. Many  children including my own families children never had an education or skills other that what they were able to teach themselves.,
That was my guess Linda, although Stephanie had not yet provided information about the family when I wrote my answer.
+10 votes
It's common for children of all ages in the 19th C. It just means not at school and not employed as a servant. Sometimes children were recorded as being servants in the home.
by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (253k points)
thank you guys
+9 votes
Education was not compulsory in 1851, however, in some but not all rural areas there was some sort of education available. All charged a few pence a week.


This is where it's worth looking at the other entries for the area by the same enumerator.  If none of the labouring families were at school, was there a school available?

There are several families in Pawlett  where the children of 5 and over are entered as scholars.This includes Ag labs families and one where the mother is in receipt of poor relief so that suggests there was a school of some sort available for the poorer classes.

The Vicars children are entered as scholars at home. These children may have been taught by a governess although she wasn't in residence on the night of the census.

Your family and the 'next door'  neighbours have none of  their children entered as scholars

The children in your family might never have gone to school, some families didn't 'believe' in schooling.. It  maybe that  they attended irregularly but weren't attending at the time, sometimes even a few pennies a week couldn't be found.

If Selina got married, and you can view  the register entry or her marriage cert, look at the signature.  How she signed (confidently or hesitantly with errors) or if she made a mark might give you an indication as to how much schooling she received.
by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (204k points)

Just to add, I found this which shows how careful one has to be with interpreting the data.

The 1861 census had a similar question on schooling asking whether children had been scholars attending school in the week prior to the census. It was meant to 'elicit the number of the population of those ages receiving instruction' .The report on the Scottish census said that the question had been useless for three reasons.

1) It excluded all children who were off school for ill health that week (and I'd note that quite often whole schools closed down for outbreaks of measles, scarlatina, cholera etc)

2) It excluded all children receiving education at home through tutors and governesses

3) The census for that year was held in Scotland on 7th April.  It excluded many children in rural areas in Scotland as in many such areas schools were shut down for the whole of April ' to allow children to aid in the Spring agricultural operations'

Info from this very useful book

Drake, Michael, Ruth H Finnegan, and Jacqueline Eustace, Sources And Methods For Family And Community Historians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press in association with the Open University, 1997), p. 26

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