Of the parish of Barvas, as at present constituted, the population cannot be correctly ascertained previous to the year 1821. Every census formerly taken included the district of Cross, now detached. The earliest on record thus taken of Barvas and Cross together was Dr Webster’s in 1755, when the population was 1995; by the former Statistical Account, the number of souls then was 2006. In 1821, it was 2568; and in 1831 it amounted to 3011. The population of Barvas alone, since the disjunction, will in twenty years more, at its present rate of increase, equal that of both parishes, as stated by Dr Webster, or, in other words, in one century will be nearly doubled. This rapid increase arises from a general inclination to marry young from the want of any outlet for the superabundant population by emigration or otherwise, and from the numerous subdivisions of lots consequent on this accumulation.
Population in 1821 of Barvas, as at present constituted: 1481
In 1831, being 811 males and 886 females, 1697
In 1838: 1840
Average number of persons under 15 years of age: 618
betwixt 15 and 30: 462
30 and 50: 347
50 and 70: 283
above 70: 130
Yearly average of birth: for the last seven years: 35
of deaths: 9
of marriages: 18
Number of unmarried men. or bachelors above 60: 1
Widowers above 50: 12
Unmarried women upwards of 45: 15
Families in the parish: 371
Average number of children in each family: 4
Famous persons: 5
The inhabitants are all agricultural, and of the few that are artisans none devote their time exclusively to their trades.
Character, Language, and Habit of the People. The inhabitants are about the middle size, of a sallow complexion, probably occasioned by the peat smoke in which they are constantly enveloped. The men are well-proportioned, hardy, robust, and healthy, and the women are modest, comely, and many of them good-looking. The Gaelic is the only language, and has been from time immemorial; and it is spoken, in the opinion of competent judges, with grammatical correctness and classical purity. In their habits, much cleanliness can scarcely be expected, considering their poverty and the wretchedness of their habitations, especially while the present system, which has prevailed for ages, continues, of the cattle under the same roof with themselves, entering at the same door, and allowing their manure to accumulate without being removed except once a year. Their mode of living most closely approaches the pastoral; without arts, trade, or manufacture, navigation or literature, their whole round of duty consists in securing fuel, in sowing and reaping their scanty crops, and in rearing their flocks, and tending them at pasture. Yet in these limited circumstances, while supplied with food and clothing of the plainest description, and able to pay their rents, their simple cottages are abodes of happiness and contentment. Blue kelt is almost the only dress worn by the men, and stuffs, variously striped, by the women, with under dresses of plaiding, all home made. In many instances, however, cotton shirts and print gowns are beginning to supersede the use of some of these articles. The formation of the female habits, with their whole appearance, closely resembles that of the Wandering Bavarians,” or Swiss buy a broom” singers, who itinerate through this country. Their ordinary food consists of cat and barley meal, potatoes and milk, variously prepared. Their domestic economy is frugal and moderate beyond conception. The produce of a foreign soil, as tea, coffee, and sugar, and the common conveniences of art, as knives, forks, &c. are to them altogether alien.
They are remarkable for sobriety and hospitality in their own sphere; possess vivacity of intellect, acuteness and sagacity, and are tainted with few vices except such as poverty in similar circumstances begets. They are, in general, tolerably well-versed in the Scriptures, and afford several examples of uprightness and piety.