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Yorkshire Census Case Study

Sir Titus Salt

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The Brontë Sisters | Sir Titus Salt

During the 19th century, advancements in technology meant that industrial activity expanded at an unprecedented rate. Thousands of people came from the countryside to cities and towns to work in mills and factories that were hastily set up to take advantage of new manufacturing methods. Employment boomed, but in a rush for production at the cheapest possible rates, workers’ rights often took a back seat.

Sir Titus Salt
Sir Titus Salt

Sir Titus Salt, businessman and philanthropist, was though a model employer in every sense. Born in 1803 in Yorkshire, he was the son of Daniel Salt, a woolstapler, and in 1833 took over the family business to great success, becoming the largest employer in Bradford- making fine cloths from donskoi and alpaca wool. Bradford was badly polluted- over 200 factory chimneys made the air unhealthily smoky, and sewage was regularly dumped in the river, also a source of drinking water. Cholera and typhoid were common, and the appalling life expectancy of 18-20 was one of the lowest in the country.

Titus was one of very few to show concern. He even created the Rodda Smoke Burner, which meant that factory smoke contained far fewer pollutants. He introduced them into his factories, and when he became the mayor in 1848, tried hard to pass a by-law enforcing their general use, to try and make a real difference.

The other factory owners stood firm against it though, and Titus, showing an imagination beyond that of his peers, decided to construct an entirely new industrial community called Saltaire, in a rural location on the banks of the River Aire.

The textile mill he built was the most modern in Europe, and was designed to provide a safer, healthier working environment for staff. Noise was reduced by placing some machinery underground. Dust and dirt were removed from the factory by flues. Salt’s smoke burners were fitted throughout, so that the air outside wasn’t polluted.

850 houses were built for workers- amongst a park, a church, a school, a hospital, a library, almshouses and shops. Salt’s choices showed great humanism- every house had fresh water, gas lighting and heating, an outside lavatory. The streets were named for his wife and children and for the architects.

Salt was also a political man, a one-time MP. In 1869 he was made a baronet by Queen Victoria. In 1876 the last building in Saltaire was completed, and later that year Sir Titus Salt died at his home. A much-loved figure, 100,000 people attended his funeral. He is buried at Saltaire Congregational Church.


Saltaire mills from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Saltaire mills from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal


Sir Titus Salt can be found in the 1841, 1851, 1861, and 1871 censuses dying in 1876, aged 73.

I looked Titus up on www.TheGenealogist.co.uk by doing a search under the 1841 Yorkshire census transcripts, and immediately found him. I decided to view an image of the census record (see the excerpt below) and found him to be living at Horber Road, Bradford. The search results informed me that I could also find this record on the CD set ( CD20 H1071294.pdf, p.22).

After my success in 1841, I decided to tackle the other years, 1851, 1861 and 1871. Again I searched on www.TheGenealogist.co.uk, loaded up the census images, one by one and found him living at Crows Nest, Halifax in 1851 ( CD9 H72297_2.pdf, p.147). Methley Hall, Pontefract in 1861 ( CD13 RG9_3432.pdf, p.127) and, knowing he had been living in London at the time of the 1871 census, I found him in Westminster, living with his wife, Caroline, and his daughter, Amelia in 1871 ( CD7 RG10-133.pdf, p.43).

Sir Titus Salt and family - 1841

Sir Titus Salt and family - 1851

Sir Titus Salt and family - 1861

Sir Titus Salt and family - 1871

To view the full pages (in Acrobat format), click here for 1841; click here for 1851; click here for 1861; click here for 1871

If you have no idea where your ancestors lived you can use the search tools at www.TheGenealogist.co.uk which allows you to search across all of England and Wales.

Find out more about the UK Census and life in Britain in 1861 on the UK 1861 Census website:

UK 1861 Census

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