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History of West Calder
Chapter XII. Population of the Parish


The population of the parish in 1755, as stated by Dr Webster, was 1294.

In 1795, it was stated in Sir J. Sinclair’s Statistical Account as follows:—

Families, 221; Males, 808; Females, 410; Under years old, 109—Total, 908.

N.B.—In the Statistical Account the population is stated, in the general table for the volume, at 1289 ; which mistake arose from the Seceders (stated at 321) having been considered as separate from the 988, while in reality they are included in that number.

Of the persons comprehended under the column for trade, manufactures, &c., one half are employed in spinning, and the remainder in work for the parish.

The difference between those not comprised in the other columns, at the two periods above, is not to be considered as arising from a change of circumstances in the parish, so much as from different modes employed by the two schoolmasters in preparing the returns.

Average of the First Year of every Tex, of Baptisms, from 1700 to 1750. &c. :—

From these tables, the births of females are in every average fewer than males, though, during the last 17 years, there are four births of twins, all females. It is worthy of notice also, that in the four periods at which the averages are taken, there is a decrease of yearly births from 35 3/5ths to 25˝, although the population has been gradually increasing since 1700.

These facts show that the whole births are not entered in the baptismal registers, and that the carelessness of parents, from the increase of Seceders and other causes, is now more widely extended, and increasing.

The overture transmitted to Presbyteries by last General Assembly, is intended to remedy this defect, and also to recommend registers for marriages and burials ; but without the sanction of the Legislature, the intention of the Assembly will not be carried into execution.

Their recommendation, however, may prepare the way for a legal enactment; and in the meantime it is the duty of Session Clerks, with the power in their hands of enforcing the regular registration of baptisms, to do everything they can to have full and regular entries of everything respecting the population of the country. The funds of the parish will supply the books, and it will soon be found to be of use to the clerks to be regular in the entries.


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