British Census Information

Discussion in 'British Census' started by Daft Bat, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    Information about the censuses taken in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland can be found below. :)

    England and Wales


    Although some were taken at the end of the 18th/beginning of the 19th centuries, they are rather lacking in detail, being mainly statistical records. Not many have survived, either.

    Taken every 10 years, you should be able to follow your ancestors from 1841 to 1911. Returns were completed by the householder and passed to the enumerator who then completed schedules. However, for the 1911 census, you will be able to see the household return – probably completed in your ancestor’s handwriting!

    When was the census taken?

    1841 – 6th June
    1851 – 30th March
    1861 – 7th April
    1871 – 2nd April
    1881 – 3rd April
    1891 – 5th April
    1901 – 31st March
    1911 – 2nd April

    What will you find on them?

    The details that you will be able to see from 1851 to 1901 are:

    ~ first name, middle names (or initials) and surname
    ~ relationship to the head of the household
    ~ marital status
    ~ age
    ~ sex
    ~ occupation
    ~ place of birth
    ~ whether they had certain disabilities
    ~ their full address

    In 1911, you will also find:

    ~ for a married woman, the length of her present marriage, the number of children from that marriage and whether they are dead or still alive.
    ~ more detailed occupational information
    ~ more detail about, for example, exact birthplaces for people born in Scotland or Ireland

    However, the 1841 census had less information:

    ~ first name and surname
    ~ age (Note: This was rounded down to the nearest five years for those aged 15 or over)
    ~ sex
    ~ occupation
    ~ whether they were born in that county (Recorded as Y or N)
    ~ whether they were born in Scotland (S), Ireland (I) or Foreign Parts (F)

    It is important to note that no relationships were recorded in 1841, so a man and woman might be a husband and wife – or a brother and sister!


    Ireland

    Full censuses were taken every 10 years from 1821 to 1911 in Ireland However, fate intervened and so access to other records is sparse. Those that were taken in 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were mainly destroyed by a fire at the Public Records Office in 1922. There are some fragments available, which are noted below. Those taken in 1861 and 1871 were destroyed by the Government soon after they were taken, with those for 1881 and 1891 being pulped during the First World War.


    Apart from 1901 and 1911, the surviving census records are mainly as follows:

    • 1821 – just a few volumes for Counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, Meath and Offaly
    • 1831 – a few fragments for County Londonderry
    • 1841 – one set of the original returns survived, which is for the parish of Killeshandra in County. Cavan.
    • 1851 – most of the surviving returns relate to County Antrim.

    When was the census taken?

    1821 – 28th May
    1831 – 30th May
    1841 – 6th June
    1851 – 30th March
    1861 – 7th April
    1871 – 2nd April
    1881 – 3rd April
    1891 – 5th April
    1901 – 31st March
    1911 – 2nd April


    What will you find on them?

    1821:
    · name;
    · age;
    · occupation;
    · relationship to the head of the household;
    · acreage of land holding;
    · number of storeys of house.

    1831:

    As above, plus religion


    1841:

    As above plus

    · date of marriage;
    · literacy;
    · absent family members;
    · family members who died since 1831


    1851 to 1891:

    As above. Each census recorded family members who had died since the previous census.


    1901 and 1911:

    The above except family members who had died since the previous census were no longer recorded but the additional information was:

    · county of birth;
    · ability to speak English or Irish.


    Scotland

    Taken every 10 years since 1801, you should be able to follow your ancestors from 1841 to 1911. Those which were taken in 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 were only statistical returns that showed the headcount plus just three categories of work that might have been undertaken. Returns were completed by the householder and passed to the enumerator who then completed schedules. However, you need to bear in mind that the one taken in 1911 is still the enumerator’s schedule and not the household return as it is for the English and Welsh 1911 census.


    When was the census taken?

    1841 – 6th June
    1851 – 30th March
    1861 – 7th April
    1871 – 2nd April
    1881 – 3rd April
    1891 – 5th April
    1901 – 31st March
    1911 – 2nd April


    What will you find on them?

    The details that you will be able to see from 1851 to 1901 are:

    ~ first name, middle names (or initials) and surname
    ~ relationship to the head of the household
    ~ marital status
    ~ age
    ~ sex
    ~ occupation
    ~ place of birth
    ~ whether they had certain disabilities
    ~ their full address


    In 1911, you will also find:

    ~ for a married woman, the length of her present marriage, the number of children from that marriage and whether they are dead or still alive.
    ~ more detailed occupational information
    ~ more detail about, for example, exact birthplaces for people born in England or Ireland


    However, the 1841 census had less information:

    ~ first name and surname
    ~ age (Note: This was rounded down to the nearest five years for those aged 15 or over)
    ~ sex
    ~ occupation (Note: Enumerators were instructed to record occupations in an abbreviated form, so H.L.W. denoted hand loom weaver, for example.).
    ~ whether they were born in that county (Recorded as Y or N)
    ~ whether they were born in England (E), Ireland (I) or Foreign Parts (F)

    One thing to remember is that, although married women were generally recorded by their married surname, they could also be recorded under their maiden name – especially if they had been widowed.

    Also, the family name may have been altered after immigration to or emigration from Scotland or migration from the Highlands to the Lowlands.

    These do not always make searching very easy, so inventiveness such as searching just under first name and year of birth might be called for.


    Where can the Census records be seen?

    England and Wales
    Whilst Pay Per View and Subscription websites allow access to view the censuses, they may also be viewed for free at many local libraries. Also, the 1881 census is free to view online at Family Search. However, you may find that various family history society websites have extracts published for their areas.

    Ireland
    The complete 1901 and 1911 census records may be viewed free of charge at National Archives of Ireland website. Some fragments of the earlier censuses are available from Pay Per View/Subscription websites, but the National Archives of Ireland and Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) also hold some.

    Scotland
    Those from 1841 to 1891 can be consulted at the General Register Office for Scotland, in Edinburgh. Now, I know that it is not always practical to visit Edinburgh to undertake your Scottish research and so the Scotland’s People website is able to provide digital images of the returns for a fee. The years 1841 to 1911 inclusive may be found there. Other Pay Per View websites also provide information, but only in the form of transcriptions.
     
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  2. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Updated :)
     

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