We will start with the modern day premise that there are about 19 births per year per 1,000 people. Birth Rate, Wikipedia. Let's see if we can go back in time to the 1840's.
|Detail of birth records of Graffigny-Chemin 1845|
The Archives de la Haute-Marne 1843 - 1852 record the marriages, births and deaths of the little village of Graffigny-Chemin. In 1843 the register recorded 22 births (page 6 and 9). Using the ratio of 40 births per 1,000 inhabitants, suggested by Fernand Braudel in The Structures of Everyday Life page 71, it is possible that 880 inhabitants lived in Graffigny in 1843. Elisa Constance Emma Chevallier, daughter of Alexander Chevallier, (age 33, lumber merchant), and Marie Genevieve Roucher, was born that year on May the 4th.
The following year, 1844, 21 births are recorded (page 15). There are no Chevalliers, but there are 3 Collins, another family name. In 1845, 25 births are recorded without a Chevallier listed (page 25). In 1846, only 17 births are recorded (page 29).
On the 4th of April, 1847, Paul Constant Chevallier (my great great grandfather) married Anne Marie Richier. Paul was the child of Hilaire Chevallier and Anne Collin, ages 76 and 65. Paul Constant Chevallier is listed as the oldest son and without a profession, "garcon majeur et sans profession". Anne, his spouse was born in 1829 and is 18 years old at the date of the marriage.She is the daughter of Jean Thomas Richier (deceased) and Jeanne Morel.
Back to the lists of births. In 1847, it is 20 births (page 36). In 1848, it is 25 births including Paul Erneste Chevallier, born on the 17th of February, first son of Paul Constant Chevallier, age 26, proprieter, and Anne Marie Richier , (pages 41 and 44).
In 1849, it is 25 births. In 1850 there are 20 births including Marie Alexandune ? Elmire Chevallier, child of Paul Constant Chevallier and his wife Anne Marie Richier (pages 54 and 59). Aunt Elmire later figures in correspondence with my grandmother Marguerite just after the First World War.
In 1851, it is 28 births (page 68). And in 1852, it is back down to 14 births including Camille Oreste Chevallier, another daughter of Paul and Anne (pages 69 and 72).
Estimating populations from birth records is an inexact science. The number of births in Graffigny for the ten years ranged from a low of 14 births to a high of 25 with 20 births as a statistical norm.
The birth rate today is about 20 births per 1,000. But, I assume the 1840's experienced a higher birth rate with more children per family than today. With that in mind, we need to take a little off the top. And so we can guess at 800 souls in Graffigny in 1840.
Note to self. The list of marriages starts on page 73 of the Archives.