"The Isle of Wight becomes more cosmopolitan in its population year by year. Until the railways and steamboats broke in upon the little communities, the inhabitants of the several villages were made up of clans and families. The “overners,” as the native-born call those inhabitants who have migrated from the other side of the Solent, have broken in upon local exclusiveness, have made love and intermarried with the native families, and the clannish feeling which made the Isle of Wight very exclusive is now fast disappearing. There are yet many small localities where the inhabitants are nearly all of one family, and where, by speaking unkindly to one, nearly the whole community is offended. For instance, in the year 1790, an author describes Shanklin as the Utopia of friendship and good will. “The inhabitants,” he adds, “were like one large family; ill-nature was not known among them; obliging in the extreme, they seemed to be happiest when their visitants were best pleased. The temporary absence of a neighbour caused a shade of gloom and his return a ray of sunshine ; the sickness of the one was felt by sympathy through the whole body. The habit of living among the fine scenery has given an eye for the picturesque to all classes, for the place was celebrated for its retired cottages beautifully adorned with roses, honeysuckles, and other flowering shrubs flourishing in the utmost luxuriance."
The “overner” has been treated as a stranger, but he has made his presence felt and respected. The natives have learnt his worth, and are wisely accepting the inevitable, discovering that the “overner” brings with him valuable experience, other manners from other men, enterprise, and capital.The population of the Island has rapidly increased during the present century, owing, in a large measure, to the friendly incursions of “overners.” In 1801 the official record of the number of the inhabitants was 22,097. Since then the increase has gone on in leaps and bounds, and the total number when the last census was taken in 1891 was 78,263, as will be seen from the following particulars:
|East Cowes||2,844||2,537||307||CIVIL PARISHES.|
Net increase - 4,630. "
2013 note: The numbers in the original guide don't add up for the 1881 census; the figures above are as the original.
The Minerva Isle of Wight Pictorial and Guide - circa 1900