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that only one-fourth of this number remained at home to carry on the business of the city, and assume (the general proportion) that half the population was under twenty years of age and half above, we have two hundred thousand males in London in the reign of King Stephen; and this calculation would give us a population of four hundred thousand. In 1821 London within the walls (a distinction which no longer exists for any practical purposes) contained only fifty-six thousand inhabitants. But if the statements of Fitzstephen may be supposed to be somewhat loose, we shall find some calculations still more extraordinary as we enter upon the times of regular legislation, when the increase of population was viewed with alarm or satisfaction according to the theories which prevailed as to the causes of national wealth. The progressive increase of London was always regularly asserted, and it was always a subject of alarm. In 1581 a proclamation was issued forbidding the erection of new buildings within three miles of the city gates, and requiring that only one family should inhabit the same house. The Queen went on proclaiming, and the Parliament went on enacting, in the same spirit, to the end of the sixteenth century. In 1602 a proclamation, more remarkable for its stringency than any which had preceded it, was put forth. No new buildings were to be erected within three miles of London and Westminster: No existing dwelling-house should be converted into smaller tenements: If any house had been so divided within the preceding ten years, the inmates should quit it: All sheds and shops erected within seven years should be pulled down : Empty houses, built within seven years, should not be let: Unfinished buildings, on new foundations, should be pulled down. The reasons for these severities are thus assigned in the proclamation :-“ Her Majesty foreseeing the great and manifold inconveniences and mischiefs which daily grow, and are likely more and more to increase, unto the state of the City of London, and the suburbs and confines thereof, by access and confluence of people to inhabit the same, not only by reason that such multitudes could hardly be governed by ordinary justice to serve God and obey her Majesty without constituting an addition of more officers and enlarging of authorities and jurisdictions for that purpose, but also could hardly be provided of sustentation of victual, food, and other like necessaries for man's relief, upon reasonable prices: and finally, for that such great multitudes of people inhabiting in small rooms, whereof many be very poor, and such as must live by begging, or worse means, and being heaped up together, and in a sort smothered, with many families of children and servants in one house or small tenement, it must needs follow, if any plague or other universal sickness come amongst them, it would presently spread through the whole city and confines, and also into all parts of the realm,” &c. &c.
In a proclamation of Charles I., twenty-eight years afterwards, pretty nearly the same commands were issued; and the heads of families were also, as they had formerly been, forbidden to receive inmates,—the facilities for residing in London being such, it was alleged, as would multiply the inhabitants to so great a degree that they could neither be governed nor fed. The measures which were taken to prevent the increase of buildings no doubt tended to produce the evil of “great multitudes of people inhabiting in small rooms;" for it is perfectly clear that no statute or proclamation could prevent the rush of strangers to the City whenever there was a demand for their industry. It was sensibly enough
observed, in 1662," that the City is repeopled, after a great Plague, in two years.” The christenings are properly considered by this observer as a standard of the increase or decrease of the inhabitants; and he tells us that in 1624, the year preceding a great Plague, they amounted to 8299; in 1626, the year after the Plague, they were only 6701 ; but in 1628 they reached a higher number than in 1624, being 8408.* This decrease in the births would show a decrease of 45,000 persons during the year of the Plague; and which void was filled
in another year. That the proclamations of Elizabeth and Charles, inoperative as they might be for any large results, were in some measure carried into effect, there can, however, be no doubt. Houses were pulled down—when the owners could not manage to bribe those in power to let them remain. The buildings went on increasing; and soon after the Restoration they had increased so much that an ingenious and accurate observer,-one of our best of letter-writers, Howel,—had persuaded himself, and attempted to persuade others, that London contained a million and a half of people :—"For number of human souls, breathing in City and suburbs, London may compare with any in Europe in point of populousness. The last census that was made in Paris came under a million ; but in the year 1636 King Charles sending to the Lord Mayor to make a scrutiny what number of Roman Catholics and strangers there were in the City, he took occasion thereby to make a census of all the people; and there were of men, women, and children, above seven hundred thousand that lived within the bars of his jurisdiction alone; and this being one and twenty years passed, 'tis thought, by all probable computation, that London hath more by the third part now than she had then. Now, for Westminster, and Petty France, the Strand, Bedford Berry, St. Martin's Lane, Long Acre, Drury Lane, St. Giles of the Field, High Holborn, Gray's Inn Lane, St. James and St. George's Street, Clerkenwell, the outlets of Red and Whitecross Street, the outlets beyond the Bars of Bishopsgate, Aldersgate, and Southwark Bars, beyond the Tower, &c.,—take all these places, with divers more which are contiguous and one entire piece with London herself,—I say, take all these buildings together, there will be found, by all probable conjecture, as many inhabitants at least as were found before within that compass where the point of the Lord Mayor's sword reacheth, which may amount in all to a million and a half of human souls. Now, one way to know the populousness of a great city is to observe the bills of mortality and nativities every week. I think there is no such custom in Paris; but for Amsterdam, which is a very populous mercantile place, the ordinary number there of those that go weekly out of the world is but fifty, or thereabouts, and about so many come into the world every week." Nothing can be more precise and circumstantial than this statement.
- The last census that was made in Paris came under a million.” No doubt it did. The population of the Department of the Seine, extending eight miles from the centre of Paris, was, in 1829, only thirteen thousand above a million. But fifty years after this statement of Howel's, the annual number of births in Paris was 16,988, which, multiplied by 28, the probable proportion then of the births to the population, the number of inhabitants was under half a million. Howel compared
* Quoted in Strype's Stuw.
London with Amsterdam : his computation of the population by the births would only give a result of about seventy thousand inhabitants for that city. The births in London were about four times as many as those of Amsterdam when Howel wrote. The "scrutiny" to which he refers of the actual inhabitants of the City took place in 1631 ; and it is, perhaps, the first approach to a regular enumeration of the people which we possess. The government did not desire to know the number of Roman Catholics and strangers; but it was afraid of an approaching dearth : and in those days, when the corn-merchants, who were called monopolists and forestallers, were not permitted to mitigate the evils of scarcity by buying up corn in times of plenty, the government called upon the Lord Mayor to know what number of mouths were in the City and the Liberty,-how much corn was requisite to feed that number for a month,—where the corn was to be kept,—when the city intended to make this provision,—what stock of money was provided, &c. The number of people in each ward was accordingly ascertained, and it was returned to the Privy Council as 130,268. The foundation of Howel's calculation is thus demolished. Statistical documents were then not printed, but talked about; and such an exaggeration would be easily enough received. But his account is still valuable and curious. It shows us in what directions London was increasing. Howel has one of his characteristic gossiping passages upon
this matter :-" The suburbs of London are larger than the body of the city, which make some compare her to a Jesuit's hat, whose brims are far larger than the block; -which made Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, to say, as the Queen of Spain was discoursing with him, upon his return to England, of the City of London—'Madam, I believe there will be no city left shortly, for all will run out of the gates to the suburbs.'” Captain Graunt, who published his
Observations on the Bills of Mortality'in 1661, says “ that the trade and very City of London removes westward,—that the walled city is but a fifth of the whole pile.” But he shows us how, even in the walled city, the population was increasing-great houses, formerly belonging to noblemen, had been turned into tenements. There were two reasons, according to this accurate writer, why London increased in a westerly direction :the Court now resided entirely in Westminster—the old streets of the city were too narrow for the use of coaches, and the new streets towards Covent Garden were broad enough. This was before the Great Fire. That event silenced for ever all the attempts to restrain the growth of the city beyond the walls and liberties. Under the Commonwealth the contest between the government and the owners of land and builders, who acted upon the irresistible impulse of demand and supply, became an affair of compromise. Fines upon new buildings were levied to the use of the Commonwealth, instead of houses being pulled down. The statute gravely says, “ by the law the said houses and nuisances ought to be abated; but as the severity of the law would be the undoing of divers persons, one year's clear annual value of each house shall be taken in full satisfaction and discharge.” We may form some notion of the increase of building from a pamphlet published in 1673, entitled • The Grand Concern of England Explained,' in which the writer, who is also for putting down the abomination of stage-coaches, maintains that the increase of London is the ruin of the country :"I desire every serious, considerate person that knew London and Westminster, and the suburbs thereof, forty or fifty years ago, when
England was far richer and more populous than now it is, to tell me whether,
• We'll let this theatre, and build another, where,
The continual influx of strangers to London was one great cause, as it is at the present day, for the demand for new houses and new accommodation for inmates. Whilst James I. was commanding all noblemen, knights, and gentlemen, who had
mansion-houses in the country, to return to their several habitations, to abide there until the end of the summer vacation, the Scots who had followed him to England were building up the Strand. Howel says, “ the Scots, greatly multiplying here, nestled themselves about the Court; so that the Strand, from the mud walls and thatched cottages, acquired that perfection of buildings it now possesses.” The French Protestants came over here in many thousands about 1687, and established themselves in the neighbourhood between Covent Garden and St. Giles's, which we now know as Seven Dials and Long Acre; Spital. fields, also peopled by them, grew into a town. A little previous to this Sir William Petty had made his celebrated calculations on the quantity of people in London, and the continual increase of the capital. In 1682 he estimates that there were 84,000 tenanted houses; he fixes the number in each at eight persons; and he thus obtains a population of 672.000. In this calculation he includes, under the name of London, all the built ground in Middlesex and Surrey which could be considered “contiguous unto, or within call of,” London, Westminster, and Southwark. According to the Parish Clerks' Registers of the Bills of Mortality,' the average christenings about this period reached 15,000 annually, which will give a total population of more than 400,000. The registers were, of course, imperfect records of the number of births; and, looking at the larger space included in Sir W. Petty's calculation, he was probably not very greatly in excess-perhaps to the extent of 100,000. Neither is there any very extraordinary change in the habits of London indicated by the fact of it being assumed that there was an average of eight persons in each house a century and a half ago. The present proportion is more than six persons to each house. The diffusion of comforts divides the people into separate houses. In Paris each floor of a house is, in many senses of the word, a separate house ; yet still there is less of comfort, according to our English notions, in such a packing up of the population in high buildings. There, in 1817, 26,751 houses held 657,172 individuals -an average of more than twenty-five persons to each house: but then each house contained eight families. Sir W. Petty calculated that in 1682 London was seven times larger than in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, in 1560—that is, that the population in 1560 was under 100,000. This we should consider far too low an estimate, and one rather formed to accommodate Sir W. Petty's theory, that London doubles the number of its inhabitants every forty years, than built on any certain data. His theory led this very able man to some conclusions which now look like many other statistical prophecies will look when tested by time,- sufficiently absurd. He says that as London doubles its inhabitants every forty years, in the
year 1840 the number of its people will be above ten millions; that the inhabitants of all the rest of England will be very little more,—under eleven millions. Now, this, he says, cannot be--which we very readily admit; and that London must therefore have reached its utmost height of population at the next preceding period, 1800, when it will exceed five millions,—and that there the number must stop. But how stop? Suddenly, through famine ? or by the universal agreement of the excessive population to emigrate? The whole fallacy of the apprehensions of nearly three centuries, that the growth of London was something unnatural and therefore ruinous to the country, lies in the mistake which Sir W. Petty fell into, that its increase was not in the same ratio as the increase of the people