The Population

Major Y R H Probert, in his survey of the parish published in 1958, observed that the population of Penallt was 350, “much the same as a hundred and fifty years ago”.

The following table is based on Bradney’s History of Monmouthshire, vol. II and indicates population changes since the first national census, including remarkable apparent growth since 1958:

1801 census


1811 census


1831 census


1871 census


1891 census


1901 census


1958 estimate


1981 census


1987 estimate


Of course, only general conclusions can be drawn from these (and similar) figures. Numbers for the 20th century probably reflect more accurate counting, but boundary changes can invalidate all but the broadest comparisons.

The figure of 443 (for 1981) relates to the enumeration district in which Penallt was included (district ED SUAY 01) and it is understood that such districts are generally redefined at each census. However, the boundary of the 1981 enumeration district appears to approximate to the old parish boundary (on the east, the River Wye; on the south, the White Brook; from south to north, on the west side, taking in Ty Mawr, Meend Farm, The Graig, Penygarn and Jackston Farm). This being so, the figure of 443 looks rather high at first sight. But the last fifteen years or so have seen both the splitting of houses into (usually) two separate residences and the building of new houses, chiefly to the north and west of Cross Vane. Moreover, a recent estimate of the present population of 456 is only slightly higher and neither figure is inconsistent with the growth of the number of houses in the parish and with the general diminution in the size of the average family. In 1901, the number of occupied houses in Penallt was reckoned to be 94 for a population of 387; in 1988, the number is about 165 for 456, i.e. 75% more houses, with 28% more people – reflecting the rise over 80 years in the standard of living and the fall in the size of families.

The 1991 census is awaited with interest. Has the number of occupied houses continued to grow? Are the newcomers retiring here outnumbering those still at work? Are the latter now having more or fewer children? Whatever the answers, or the guesses when the answers are unclear, it seems pretty certain that, although sans school, sans shops and almost sans public transport, Penallt will remain anything but a vanishing village. Indeed, it is possible that the population will continue to grow slowly towards the peak of 549 achieved in 1831.

[from: Penallt – A Village Miscellany]