One possible approach to any new research is to concentrate on the national picture, however roughly it has to be delineated. Without repeating all of the initial work by Peter Laslett into the structure of the English household, it is appropriate to reaffirm that the English household of pre-industrial times was typically small (mean household size 4.75), its structure simple (few kin), that there were large numbers of servants (30 per cent of households contained them), but surprisingly few children (the mean size of offspring group was 2.7). Some years have elapsed since this comprehensive account of the English pre-industrial household was first published (Laslett, 1969) during which time it has advanced into something approaching a stereotype, more particularly in regard to mean household size, to be applied to all manner of English communities regardless of location or time period. The purpose of the present paper is to attempt a correction by charting variations in household size and structure between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and between one part of the country and another. The problem is that the lists of inhabitants which provided Mr Laslett with the information on households with kin and the number of resident children are strung out in date (the earliest 1574 and the latest 1821), and only at rare moments is it possible to find a number of neighbouring settlements surveyed together. One such opportunity occurs at the end of the seventeenth century where the operation of the Marriage Duty Act has left a number of lists which divide the population into households. Some quirk of the administration has resulted in more of these documents surviving for urban areas than is warranted by their actual contribution to the total population of the country at this date. Nevertheless there are sufficient rural survivals to permit urban-rural comparisons and allow an estimate of whether variations in household structure between different parts of the country are likely. First, however, I want to consider the question of a shift in household composition during the period in which, along with many other changes, England moved from a position of population stagnation to 90one of population growth.