Captain Haines' 1849 Census in Aden: A Strategic Approach to Accuracy and Order

Captain Haines engineered a Census in 1849, “with great care”. The word ‘engineered’ is used advisably as he tried to move as many pilgrim ships as possible away from Aden over the period of his census in order to make the total as accurate as possible. More questionable was his decision to try to remove “all idle and dissolute persons without employment”.

The 1849 equivalent of ‘Polish plumbers’ were Indian labourers in the building trade. This influx had reduced the ratio of Arabs to Indians quite considerably. But there were still about 1,200 Arabs employed as labourers building their own houses. The Engineer Department employed another 357 Arabs and the Coal Department 247 more.

Haines also commented that a number of Parsees and other Indians were absent, being at Bombay purchasing goods for the season. There had been an increase in the Jewish population “but the dislike (founded on religious scruple) that they entertain of numbering their people, renders it difficult to obtain an exact estimate.” He also feared that the Arab Moslem population did not give the correct number of their females.

His final comment in his covering letter concerned the Somalis. It would have been highly advantageous if he could have reduced their number as at times they “were very troublesome”, but on the other hand “prudence prevents it, as the greater part of our supplies in cattle is brought over by them”. He listed about 2,300 Somalis as being resident – the majority being from three tribes, with another 475 on board boats and shipping “in both bays”, plus another 400 in the daily kafila (in this instance presumably not meaning those arriving in the daily overland caravans, but arriving by sea for a very temporary visit.) Other than the Somalis, there were another 549 from Africa, including 281 Seedees and 22 Dankalis (all male).

The overall total for Aden (and remember that Little Aden and Sheikh Othman were not yet part of ‘Aden’) was 19,024 which included the garrison. Including their offspring, there were 15 more original inhabitants of Aden than Playfair was to record seven years later. The total was 980 and as in 1856 there were many more women (499) than men (269). This latter figure was in fact one fewer than in 1856, an indication that those dying more or less equalled those maturing from ‘children’. Haines lists there being 193 boys but a disproportionate number of girls, only 19.

Arabs from elsewhere in Arabia numbered 3,865, of whom 1,660 (all male) were listed as ‘Jebelis’ – presumably those from the hinterland. The next biggest number were those from Mocha, over 1,100, some 40% being female – an indication that they were firmly resident. Those from what would become Saudi Arabia, the remainder of the Yemen and the Mukalla area each provided around 270 to the overall total.

Captain Haines' meticulous approach to the 1849 census led to the categorization of 60 individuals collectively as 'Persians, Turks & Moguls.' Despite these efforts, about 300 pilgrims were still in transit during the census period. The count of those of mixed race was relatively low – comprising approximately 30 Anglo-Indian or Portuguese-Indian males, accompanied by eight wives and three children. Among these, the Portuguese-Indian group was likely the majority. Other minority groups were 55 Parsees (including six wives and five children), 15 Madras Christians (10 were men). Hindus were 280 (152 men), with the remaining Indians being Moslem. Jews were listed as 597 males and 553 females.

The return for the garrison was submitted by the commander of the ‘Aden Field Force’, Brigadier D Cuninghame. Several totals stand out as being worthy of comment. The European military numbered 678, plus 52 wives and 61 children. 491 of the men were in the Wing (half battalion) of what was described as the 2nd Regiment European Light Infantry. Indian soldiers totalled 1525, over 1,000 being in the 20th Regiment from Madras. There were also over 250 Sappers & Miners, a seemingly large number, but not so when one remembers the work in progress on the fortifications and the infrastructure of the garrison. It is in the figures for the Engineer Department that one appreciates the extent of this work: it is listed as having over 3,000 followers (the ‘polish plumbers’) plus their families – another 700.

All groups had their followers – both those paid for by the authorities and those paid for by individuals as extra servants. There were over 700 other male followers apart from those working for the Engineer Department, including a fair number with their families. All would have been from the Indian sub-continent, which further added to the number of non-Arabs in Aden. Arabs were in the distinct minority – less than a quarter of the total population.