Alternatively, by clicking the links below, you can search the England, Wales and Scotland Census Records by year:
To trace your ancestors and family history effectively requires a comprehensive and varied approach. One of the more rewarding areas of ancestry research is the census returns.
The national census has been taken every 10 years in England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man since 1801, the only exception being 1941. Up to 1841, the census returns were purely for gathering statistical data and aren’t really of any value to the family historian. The returns are released for public access only after one hundred years and the 1911 census is available for searching now.
Searching the census returns will really bring your ancestors to life and give you some understanding of their family life at that time. The information taken during the various census returns varies according to the year of the census and the first one to be of any value to tracing your ancestors was the 1841 census. This was the first census to include individual’s names, but not the relationships of the individuals. Ages are rounded down to the nearest 5 years and the place of birth is simply whether or not the individual was born in that county or not. Although this is pretty limited information, it can provide clues for further research.
Later census returns include information such as exactly where they lived, who lived in the household or who was there at the time the census was taken. This may include parents, children, servants and sometimes even extended family such as aunts and uncles and grandparents. They will also give the occupations (if any) of those householders and their ages.
Arguably 1851 is the first really useful census because it not only contains the names of those in the dwelling and what the relationship of the individuals were to the head of the household, but also the place of birth by parish name. This is particularly useful if you haven’t been able to trace the birthplace of an individual or didn’t even know if they existed.
Information to be found on census returns from 1851
Name of Street, Place or Road and Name or Number of House
Name and Surname of each Person (on the night of the census)
Relation to Head of Family
Rank, Profession or Occupation
From 1861 onwards more information was recorded about the tenancies of the householders and mental and physical health.
The earlier censuses will also include entries for the destitute living in the local workhouses.
The information that was requested by the census enumerators for each of the census years from 1841 to 1911 will be available very soon. Watch this space!