Census Returns for England & Wales

Census returns for England and Wales are subject to a 100-year non-disclosure rule. Copies of census returns are available for public inspection for the years 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 only. Not all census returns have survived, there are some original census enumerators books missing or damaged beyond repair and have not been microfilmed.

The householder was to complete their individual household schedules recording who was in their household during the period Sunday night to Monday morning. On the morning after census night, the census enumerators collected the household schedules. If these were not completed properly, the census enumerator was supposed to ask for extra details at the doorstep, although there is considerable evidence that this was not done uniformly. If the householder was unable to fill in the schedule, perhaps because he or she was illiterate, the census enumerator was to fill it in for them. In 1871, the majority of some Welsh-speaking parishes in Anglesey were filled in by the enumerators.

These individual household schedules were then transcribed into the census enumerators' books, together with statistical information, and it is from these books that copies of the census returns can be obtained.

A considerable number of people were not in normal households on census night and special arrangements had to be made for their enumeration. These people included the inmates of institutions, the crews of vessels afloat, the army, itinerants and travellers, and night workers. Click here to see details of how these people were enumerated.

Click here for Abbreviations, Definition of Terms, and Some Points to Remember when reviewing Census Returns.

Click here for a case study of a missing 1851 census household schedule which may help you when searching the census returns.

Click here for list of London Census Name Indexes

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1841 Sunday 6 June
(PRO Class Reference HO107)

Column 1Place, i.e. address
Column 2Houses; separate columns for uninhabited or being built and inhabited
Column 3Names
Column 4Age; separate columns for males and females
Column 5Profession, trade, employment or of independant means
Column 6Where born; whether born in same county (Y or N), whether born in Scotland (S), Ireland (I), or foreign parts (F)
The 1841 census is the first useful genealogical census for England & Wales. You will see that no relationships are given - except occasionally in column 5 where you may see Farmer's Wife or similar. All ages 15 and above should have been rounded down to the nearest 5 year multiple, i.e. ages shown as 15 may be 15-19, ages shown as 20 may be 20-24, etc. Another point to remember for ages is that people often said that they "were in their 60th year" meaning that they had passed their 59th birthday. If a person gave information meaning they were in their 60th year, they will be shown as being 60, whereas strictly keeping to the rules, they should be recorded as 55.

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1851 Sunday 30 March
(PRO Class Reference HO107)

Column 1No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3Name and surname
Column 4Relationship to head of house
Column 5Condition; marital status
Column 6Age; separate columns for males and females
Column 7Rank, profession or occupation
Column 8Where born; county/place
Column 9Whether blind, deaf-and-dumb

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1861 Sunday 7 April
(PRO Class Reference RG9)

Column 1No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3Houses; separate columns for inhabited and uninhabited or being built (entered as 'U' or 'B')
Column 4Name and surname
Column 5Relationship to head of family
Column 6Condition; marital status
Column 7Age; separate columns for males and females
Column 8Rank, profession or occupation
Column 9Where born; county/place
Column 10Whether blind, deaf-and-dumb

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1871 Sunday 2 April
(PRO Class Reference RG10)

Column 1No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3Houses; separate columns for inhabited and uninhabited or being built
Column 4Name and surname
Column 5Relationship to head of family
Column 6Condition; marital status
Column 7Age; separate columns for males and females
Column 8Rank, profession or occupation
Column 9Where born; county/place
Column 10Whether 1 - Deaf & dumb, 2 - Blind, 3 - Imbecile or idiot, 4 - Lunatic

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1881 Sunday 3 April
(PRO Class Reference RG11)

Column 1No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3Houses; separate columns for inhabited and uninhabited or being built (entered as 'U' or 'B')
Column 4Name and surname
Column 5Relationship to head of family
Column 6Condition; marital status
Column 7Age last birthday; separate columns for males and females
Column 8Rank, profession or occupation
Column 9Where born; county/place
Column 10Whether 1 - Deaf & dumb, 2 - Blind, 3 - Imbecile or idiot, 4 - Lunatic

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1891 Sunday 5 April
(PRO Class Reference RG12)

Column 1No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3Houses; separate columns for inhabited and uninhabited or being built (entered as 'U' or 'B')
Column 4Number of rooms occupied if less than five
Column 5Name and surname
Column 6Relationship to head of family
Column 7Condition; marital status
Column 8Age last birthday; separate columns for males and females
Column 9Rank, profession or occupation
Column 10Employer; 'X' inserted
Column 11Employed; 'X' inserted
Column 12Neither employer nor employed; 'X' inserted
Column 13Where born; county/place
Column 14Whether 1 - Deaf & dumb, 2 - Blind, 3 - Lunatic, Imbecile or Idiot
In Wales and Monmouthshire only, the household schedules and enumeration books had an extra column for 'Language Spoken' which required either 'English', 'Welsh' or 'Both' to be entered.

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1901 Sunday 31 March
(PRO Class Reference RG13)

Column 1No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3-6Houses; separate columns for inhabited, in occupation, not in occupation, being built
Column 7Number of rooms occupied if less than five
Column 8Name and surname of each person
Column 9Relationship to head of family
Column 10Condition; marital status
Column 11-12Age last birthday; separate columns for males and females
Column 13Profession or occupation
Column 14Employer, worker, or on own account
Column 15If working at home
Column 16Where born; county/place
Column 17Whether 1 - Deaf & dumb, 2 - Blind, 3 - Lunatic, 4 - Imbecile, feeble-minded
In Wales and Monmouthshire only, the household schedules and enumeration books had an extra column for 'Language Spoken' which required either 'English', 'Welsh' or 'Both' to be entered.

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Copyright 2005 John Hitchcock. All rights reserved.