Transcription of the

1851 New Brunswick Provincial Census, Victoria County

(today's Victoria and Madawaska Counties)

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A note on the 1851 New Brunswick Census

The 1851 census was the first full nominal census of the Province of New Brunswick, and the first to include the names of every member of every household. Previous censuses had gathered aggregate information for each parish or township.  As Craig Walsh notes on his New Brunswick Census Legislation website, "the original 1848 act [calling for a census] had been nearly identical to the earlier census acts of 1824, 1834, and 1840. Fortunately, the 1849 amendment also added a requirement to record people's names -- the first time this had been done in the history of the New Brunswick censuses."

This was not however the first census of the Madawaska settlements (which in the 1851 census covered the parishes of St. Francis, Madawaska, St.Basile and St.Leonard, and were at that time part of Victoria County).  New Brunswick had conducted a head-of-household census of Madawaska in 1833 (on both sides of the St.John, including in present-day Aroostook Co., Maine), while the US had, in 1820, 1830, and 1840, conducted censuses of both sides of the St.John, including what is today in New Brunswick. (The state of Maine had also conducted a survey of the area in 1831.)  Thus the 1851 census was the fifth time the residents of the north bank of the upper St.John River valley (what became the New Brunswick side of the river by the 1842 treaty between the US and Britain) had been enumerated.

The "1851 Census Act II", passed by the provincial General Assembly in April 1849, called for a census to be taken using two schedules; Schedule I, with information about each individual in every household, and Schedule II, with information about each parish or township.

Schedule I of the census asked for the name of each member of the household; his or her sex; whether head of household, and if not, the relationship to the head of household; and age.  The census also asked for the "race" of each person. This term had a different meaning at that time, and in this context referred to nationality, usually in ethnic terms (though people born in New Brunswick were often listed as "native," Americans were listed as "American", and one person with a Scottish last name is listed as "French," with the remark that he was of "Scottish origin").  The form also asked for the rank or occupation of those persons who were employed.  It asked the date on which they entered the colony; persons born in New Brunswick usually have written "birth" in this column, while others who were born elsewhere and moved to the province have the date indicated, usually by year.  In the original, this column is sometimes left blank. 

The form also asked whether the person was sick or infirm; in this column is listed the illness or infirmity.  Finally, there is a remarks column; most of the remarks consists of information on that person that the census taker wrote somewhere on the line, though not necessarily in the "remarks" column. 

Schedule II was meant to gather information on each parish or township such as numbers and types of buildings, crops, livestock, and industries (For Andover Parish alone the census taker gathered information about land, animals, buildings, etc. for each household, in Schedule II.)  Apparently this information was meant to be collected for each parish, but the census taker for Andover misunderstood and, to our benefit, gathered it for each household. I have transcribed Schedule II for Andover parish and included it here.  The entries for each household in Schedule II can be reached by a link in the "Remarks" column for the head of household for each household in Andover.

The transcription presented here is an exact copy of the returns from that census for Victoria County, today's Victoria and Madawaska Counties, as preserved in the microfilm copy of the original held in the National Archives of Canada (microfilm reel number C-996).

Victoria County was in 1851 divided into six parishes, four of which (Madawaska, St.Basile, St.Francis and St.Leonard) make up present-day Madawaska County. (It seems that the part of Andover Parish called "French Settlement" is also part of today's Madawaska County, making up St.André municipality.)  Each parish's returns were enumerated by a different census taker; pages were numbered consecutively for each parish, with a number stamped, usually in the upper left-hand corner of the page, apparently by the government.  The microfilm copy of the returns retains those numbers, and unlike the US census, there are no page numbers for the microfilm pages overall.  Thus each parish starts at page 1.  There are a total of 119 pages.  Within parishes, households were numbered consecutively within districts or subdivisions of the parish.

For reference purposes, I have included image files of each page, which can be reached by clicking on the link at the top of each transcribed page.

In the "relations" column, the census takers used abbreviations; these are explained in the page "key to column heads".

As with all previous US and New Brunswick censuses, the census takers in 1851 were all Anglophones; this is interesting given that four of the parishes had overwhelmingly French majorities.  It was a reflection of the subaltern status of the French-speaking population in the British colony; indeed, until 1830 Roman Catholics were not allowed to run for government office in New Brunswick  On the other hand, the anglophone census-takers did live in the francophone communities, and were apparently bilingual, based on the correct spelling of most names (although first names were anglicized, Pierre becoming Peter, etc.).  This contrasts to the US censuses, where the census takers not only did not live in the communities, but also were unfamiliar with the French language and with French names, making it very difficult to identify individuals.  In this and other censuses on this website, the "correct" spelling of the name, along with other information on individuals, is given in the "popup boxes" or annotations.  For information on the popup boxes go to the page on the popup-box annotations.

Most of the returns from Victoria county were not on official government forms.  The returns from Andover and Perth were on the official forms, but those from the francophone parishes seem to have been written on pieces of paper of various sizes, accounting for the wide disparity in the number of names on each page.  Also, the originals seem to have been glued together for microfilming, resulting in some confusion in page numbering at times.  The returns from St. Basile in particular are confusing in that regard; the quality of St. Basile's returns is also at times poor, with some pages being so dark as to be almost illegible. I have in the transcription put asterisks (**) in places where writing is illegible because of this problem.

Although the census law stipulated that the census takers were to turn in all of the completed returns by November 1, 1851, only three of the parishes of Victoria County met that deadline.  The dates are indicated in the notes on each parish below.

The returns have been microfilmed in alphabetical order by name of Parish, rather than in chronological order of when they were done, or in geographical order.  Here are some notes on the six parishes that made up Victoria County in 1851:

Andover.  The divisions within Andover parish are given in the transcription.  Although they were not indicated on Schedule I, which is the listing of households with members' names, etc, they were included on Schedule II, which lists heads of households and farm and real estate assets.  In the transcriptions of the population schedule, I have broken Andover out into the subdivisions as indicated in Schedule II.

Unlike the other parishes, for Andover the census taker included the detailed information of Schedule II for each household. The actual instructions were to gather the information by township or parish, but the census taker for Andover mistakenly gathered it for each household, and that information is included in the microfilm copy of the 1851 census, and is transcribed here, as pages 27-31 of Andover. Some of the land in Andover and Perth was set aside in 1817 for soldiers who served in the War of 1812.  See the page on "Military Settlement Survey" for instructions to the surveyor as well as for a list from 1822 of those soldiers who had been granted land, with links to their places in the 1851 census.

The enumerator for Andover, Adam J. Beveridge, turned in the completed returns of that parish on 8 Oct 1851 at Colebrook. The census in Andover thus probably took place over the months of August and September.

Madawaska covered the area between St. Francis and St. Basile, and includes the area up the Madawaska River, Edmundston, and the banks of the St. John. Michael Tighe enumerated this parish probably in November 1851; he turned in the returns on 21 Nov 1851.

Perth.  The area covered in the Parish of Perth is described thusly: "The Parish of Perth, County Victoria, on the East Side of the River St.John, Extent 30 miles settled 16 miles up the Tobique River." The area covered includes today's Arthurette.  Additionally, the totals at the end of the Perth returns note the presence of "14 Indian families," including 41 males and 43 females.  The totals of males and females written on the page (not including "Indians"), is 541, the number of persons actually counted in the returns.  The census therefore did not include the Native peoples living in the Parish of Perth, a large part of which which had in 1801 been set aside by the Provincial government for members of the Maliseet (Wulustukieg) nation.

Much of the land in Perth was surveyed in 1817 for soldiers who served in the War of 1812.  See the page on "Military Settlement Survey" for instructions to the surveyor as well as for a list from 1822 of those soldiers who had been granted land, with links to their places in the 1851 census.

The census taker for Perth, Charles McLauchlan, turned over the returns on November 8, 1851; the census in Perth was thus probably conducted over the course of the month of October.

St.Basile. The area in this parish is between Madawaska and St. Leonard.   The census taker, William D. Kearney, under the column "dwellings", instead of numbering them listed whether the dwelling was a house or a camp.  I have numbered the dwellings (the numbering is mine, and not in the original) and as you can see many of them include a number of households.  In the "remarks" column, I have included the information that in the original is under "dwelling." Kearney turned in the returns around 1 November 1851; he probably enumerated the inhabitants of St.Basile during the month of October.

St. Francis. The area in this parish seems to be everything west of Madawaska.  As with St-Basile, the census taker, William Kearney, under the column "dwellings", instead of numbering them listed whether the dwelling was a house or a camp.  I have numbered the dwellings (the numbering is mine, and not in the original) and as you can see many of them include a number of households.  In the "remarks" column, I have included the information that in the original is under "dwelling."  In addition, the pages as numbered on the microfilm copy seem not to be in the original order of the census taker. For example, stamped page number 3 clearly follows page number 13. I will attempt to reconstruct the original order if possible.

In going through the St. Francis returns from 1851 and comparing them to 1861 and 1871 returns, I've found a number of families who are there in 1851 and 1871 but not in 1861. I am assuming that the 1861 census taker missed those families. Because of this, I have included the location of families who appear in the 1871 census of St. Francis in the annotations (based on Jean-Guy Poitras's book Recensement 1871, Comté de Victoria/1871 Census of Victoria County).

William D. Kearney turned in the returns of St. Francis on 30 January 1852; the census was thus probably conducted over the course of the month of January 1852.

St. Leonard.  This parish covers the area east of St-Basile down to Andover Parish, in particular the "French Settlement" (now called St.André). As with St.Francis, the census taker, William D. Kearney, under the column "dwellings", instead of numbering them listed whether the dwelling was a house or a camp.  I have numbered the dwellings (the numbering is mine, and not in the original) and as you can see many of them include a number of households.  In the "remarks" column, I have included the information that in the original is under "dwelling."  Kearney swore the accuracy of these returns before the justice of the peace on 12 Sept 1851; he probably enumerated St.Leonard during August and the first half of September.


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