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Comment 3:
Potter Proposal for a UK census

In 1753 (or 1751 [882]) Mr Potter, Member of Parliament for St. Germans and son of the Archbishop, introduced a Census Bill in the House of Commons proposing a census. "In 1751 a bill was introduced by Mr. Potter (son of Archbishop Potter) for providing a general registry of births, deaths, and marriages, and for taking a yearly account of the population, and number of paupers." [882]. A violent discussion arose, in the course of which it was pointed out that the plan would inevitably lead to the adoption of the 'canvas frock and wooden shoes.' Englishmen would lose their liberty, become French slaves, and, when counted, would no doubt be taxed and forcibly enlisted. The bill passed the House of Commons in spite of such reasoning, but was thrown out by the House of Lords. It wasn't until 1801 that the first census was taken in Britain.

There is confusion as to which brother introduced the Census Bill. James Mill in "The English Utilarians" states this was John Potter [168], while all other sources have Thomas Potter [174] [180] [181] [182] [507]

Thomas was much more likely to have been responsible as he was actually the sitting member for St. Germans at the time! [177c]

The initial idea was from the Physicain John Fothergill who brought together a group of eminent physicians to make a comprehensive and understandable list of causes of death and then proposed that there should be exact registers of births, deaths and marriages throughout Britain. The Company of Parish Clerks took his pr oposal to Thomas Potter to present to the House of Commons and Thomas added the necessity of a general census before the other provisions came in to effect [507]. While this was logical, it was rejected by a Parliament which was not ready (until 1801) to accept that a census would not reduce their freedom or be a sin (2 Samuel 24:10).

Keith Blayney Homepage Gregynog Potter page Blayney Barons Blayney History