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The first official census in Britain was in 1801. One is held every ten years, but individual names were not required by the central government until 1841. A few local enumerators compiled their own lists of households, but only a very small number of these survive (see the 1821 entry for London).

Censuses are not available to the general public until 100 years have elapsed, and then only on microfilm. At present available are those taken on the nights of 7 June 1841, 30 March 1851, 7/8 April 1861, 2 April 1871, 3 April 1881 and 5 April 1891. The 1901 census will become available on 1 January 2002 in computerised form.

The 1841 census was the first to contain the names of all people in the household, but ages were recorded only to the nearest five years below, except for children under 15 which were exact. At or above that age, those between 15 and 19 were recorded as 15, between 20 and 24 as 20 and so on.. Sex and occupations are given, but not the relationship to the head of the household. Place of birth was only recorded as to whether or not it was in the same county as then residing - 'Y' for yes and 'N' for no.

From 1851 the relationship (if any) to the head of household was given; exact age (as reported by the informant, so not always accurate); and where born (usually county and place if in England and Wales, otherwise usually only the country). In 1891 an additional column was introduced for whether employed.

Most provincial family members have now been traced, though there are some gaps, possibly due to the enumerators having missed people. Quite a number of known London family members are still not traced, mainly due to the huge numbers of entries needed to be searched where the residence on census night is unknown.

Helping in tracing missing entries would be welcome.

Census Information:

  • Derbyshire
  • Lancashire
  • Lincolnshire
  • London
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Scotland
  • Surrey
  • Sussex

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    Last Update 1st February 2010