The Population of England 1500-1800
By 1530 the population of England and Wales had risen to around 3 million and by 1600 it was about 4 million. In Tudor times towns remained small (although they were a vital part of the economy). The only exception was London. From a population of only about 60,000 or 70,000 at the end of the 15th century it grew to about 250,000 people by 1600. Other towns in Britain were much smaller. The next largest town was probably Bristol, with a population of only around 20,000 in 1600.
Nevertheless in the 16th century towns grew larger as trade and commerce grew. The rise in town’s populations was despite outbreaks of plague. It struck all the towns at intervals in the 16th and 17th century but seems to have died out after 1665. Each time it struck a significant part of the town’s population died but they were soon replaced by people from the countryside.
At the end of the 17th century it was estimated the population of England and Wales was about 5 1/2 million. The population of Scotland was about 1 million. The population of London was about 600,000.
In the mid 18th century the population of Britain was about 6 1/2 million. In the late 18th century it grew rapidly and by 1801 it was over 9 million. The population of London was almost 1 million.
During the 18th century towns in Britain grew larger. Nevertheless most towns still had populations of less than 10,000. However in the late 18th century new industrial towns in the Midland and the North of England mushroomed. Meanwhile the population of London grew to nearly 1 million by the end of the century. Other towns were much smaller. The population of Liverpool was about 77,000 in 1800. Birmingham had about 73,000 people and Manchester had about 70,000. Bristol had a population of about 68,000. Sheffield was smaller with 31,000 people and Leeds had about 30,000 people. Leicester had a population of about 17,000 in 1800. In the south Portsmouth had a population of about 32,000 in 1800 while Exeter had about 20,000 people.