Each Registration District was divided into sub-districts and each sub-district had a number of Enumerators. The Enumerators were recruited for a particular census and were generally of the opinion they were underpaid for what they were asked to do. In 1871 the pay scales were as follows:
A fixed fee of one guinea.
2s6d for each 100 persons in their area above 400.
6d for every mile above the first five miles covered in delivering schedules.
6d for every mile above the first five miles covered in collecting the schedules.
The local registrars were responsible for keeping track of changes in their district and for dividing it into roughly 200 household pieces. Each of these would have an enumerator and the authorities hoped to recruit men of local standing who would undertake the job as a social duty.
“He must be a person of intelligence and activity; he must read and write well and have some knowledge of arithmetic; he must not be infirm or of such weak health as may render him unable to undergo the requisite exertion; he should not be younger than 18 years of age or older than 65; he must be temperate, orderly and respectable, and be such a person as is likely to conduct himself with strict propriety, and to deserve the goodwill of the inhabitants of his district.”
Each enumerator was supplied with a set of household schedules, an enumerator’s book, and an instruction and memorandum book. This latter was used to order the houses, mark down where houses were being built or were uninhabited, and to keep a check on whether or not they had collected all the schedules distributed. These books do not appear to have survived.
When collecting the schedules the enumerators were to assist in completing the forms. They then copied them into the enumerator’s book. These books were supposed to be checked by the local registrars. Finally, the books arrived in Whitehall, where clerks extracted the data for statistical purposes.
Making Sense of the Census Revisited by Edward Higgs. Published by University of London in conjunction with TNA.