Trumpington Village Sign unveiled June 2010, designed by Sheila Betts.
Trumpington Local History Group
Farming in Trumpington:
Evidence from Censuses
Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2014. Updated 9 July 2014.
Howard Slatter

I have been looking at the census
returns for Trumpington from 1831 to
1901, in order to find out about some
of the working families of the village
and where they lived.

This is one of a series of pages about
farms and farming in Trumpington,
based on presentations at the
of the Group in October 2009. See the
introduction to farms and farming for
more information.
There were six farms in Trumpington that can be identified in the census records:

• River Farm, now at the end of Latham Road
• Clay Farm, off Long Road
• Anstey Hall Farm, in Grantchester Road
• Church Farm, or Home Farm, in Maris Lane
• Manor Farm, no longer standing, which was just north of the Village Hall
• Glebe Farm, or Vicarage Farm, off Shelford Road, now at the end of Exeter Close

In the 19th century, although four of these farms were on Pemberton land, none were farmed
directly by the family, and all had tenant farmers or farm bailiffs in them. The farmers I have
been able to identify in the census returns are listed below.
Census evidence for River Farm
River Farm was tenanted
for most of the time by the
Bland family, and identified
as "Bland's Farm".
Census evidence for Clay Farm
Clay Farm had a succession
of different farmers, all
from outside the village.
Anstey Hall Farm had
tenants of the Fosters in
Anstey Hall, the Toller and
Parsons families.
Census evidence for Anstey Hall Farm
Census evidence for Church Farm
Church Farm, otherwise
known as Home Farm or
Maris Farm. The Maris
family were tenant farmers
here for three generations;
the grandfather John came
from Great Shelford in the
late 1700s, and then his son
John and grandson John
farmed here until the 1860s.
(Thanks to Ken Fletcher for
information about the
genealogy of the Maris
Manor Farm, which was
knocked down when Beverley
Way was built. This has proved
to be quite difficult to pin down,
as it never appeared in the
census named as a farm, and no
farmer was recorded living near
the Tally Ho public house.
However, a succession of farm
bailiffs were recorded close by,
and I have had to make the
assumption that these are the
families living there. I would
welcome any further
information on the inhabitants
of Manor Farm.
Census evidence for Manor Farm
Manor Farm, Trumpington, 1964. Photograph from Kathy Eastman, Trumpington Past & Present, p. 34.
Manor Farm, Trumpington, 1964. Photograph from Kathy
Trumpington Past & Present, p. 34.
Maris House. Photograph from Peter Dawson, Trumpington Past & Present, p. 92.
Clay Farmhouse, 1937. Photograph from Rachel Tarry, Trumpington Past & Present, p. 26.
Maris House. Photograph from Peter Dawson, Trumpington
Past & Present, p. 92.
Census evidence for Glebe Farm
Glebe Farm, or Vicarage Farm
(or as it appears one year,
Parson's Farm, which was
very confusing as the Parsons
family were tenants of Anstey
Hall Farm for many years).
This was another farm
without farmers, but a
succession of bailiffs or, in
later years, labourers,
occupying the house on what
was land belonging to the
Census evidence for agricultural labourers
So that's who was running the various farms. What about the workers? The census returns
show very clearly the extent to which Trumpington was an agricultural community.  Here are
some actual numbers. I have included the 1831 census: the actual returns for that year have not
survived, but the statistics were published, and appear in Edith Carr's history of Trumpington.

The census records the occupations of the heads of households. In the early 19th century, over
half the men of the village were "Ag Labs" (agricultural labourers). As the century progressed,
the numbers and proportion of those working on the land went down.

Why was there a decrease: mainly because of gradually increasing mechanisation, and the need
for fewer labourers. But also the area of land under agriculture slowly shrank, with new houses
being built, particularly the grander ones in the north of the parish, which took quite large
chunks of land out for their gardens.

In the earlier years, these workers appear on the census as either just "Ag Labs" or plain
"labourers". The only obvious specialisation is that of Shepherd, and there was a very
consistent number of four or five shepherds in the village all the way through the century. By
1901, though, specialisation started to appear.
There is one anomaly in the gradual decline of those working on the farms. If you look closely
at these figures, you can see that something strange happened in 1871. This was due to
coprolites, which are essentially fossilised animal dung, and are very rich in phosphates, making
them suitable for grinding up and using as fertiliser.

In the case of Whitelock's Yard in 1871, the heads of all of these households were not "Ag
Labs", but "Coprolite Labourers". This was a phenomenon that was county-wide during the
1860s and 1870s, after the discovery that coprolites were there just for the digging under the
chalk layer, just above the Gault sand.

The need for corprolite labourers resulted in a sudden dip in those working in agriculture in
1871, though of course these 10-yearly snapshots can create a more dramatic change than was
really the case. This table takes some interpreting, but basically shows that most of those who
were coprolite diggers in 1871 were "Ag Labs" ten years earlier and then found themselves
back in agriculture ten years later.

Look at the ages of those who were Coprolite labourers (not just heads of household this time,
but all those in Trumpington), compared with the Ag Labs of the same year. The average age is
almost exactly the same for both groups. But the coprolite labourers were mainly men in the
prime of life, whereas the Ag labs spanned the complete working age range for the time, from 8
to 78. I'm sure this is because digging for coprolites was really back-breaking work, which only
a fit, strong, relatively young man could do. Work on the farms, though, was much more
varied, and many jobs could be done by the very young or the old.
Census evidence for coprolite workers
Another change was associated with the decline in agricultural employment towards the end of
the century. This is shown in Alpha Terrace in 1901, when there were a number of gardeners
living there. This coincided precisely with the growth in the number of large houses in the area,
and the need for someone to look after those big gardens. Many of these gardeners were at one
time working on a farm, and many of the skills would, of course, be transferable.
Clay Farmhouse, 1937.
Photograph from Rachel
Trumpington Past &
, p. 26.
Trumpington in the 1950s, Ordnance Survey.
Trumpington in the 1950s,
Ordnance Survey