England and Wales Census, 1881 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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England and Wales Census 1881 .
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|England and Wales|
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|The National Archives|
What is in the Collection?
This collection includes records for 1881.
The 1881 census was taken on the night of 3 April 1881 and gave the total population as 29,707,207. FamilySearch records indicate that the collection contains 5,962,278 records. Although it is not indicated, this collection is not fully indexed but is in progress towards completion.
Census schedules consist of large sheets with pre-printed rows and columns. The schedules are arranged by county and then divided by civil parish, while some are further subdivided into smaller enumeration districts, each district being an area that could be enumerated in a day. For reference purposes, the National Archives assigned a piece number to each enumeration district and stamped a folio number in the upper right corner of each right-side page. The number refers to entries on both sides of the page (both the recto and verso of the folio).
The Registrar General created the national censuses. Enumerators went door to door collecting the data in census books. Censuses taken between 1851 and 1931 were conducted on a single day, sometime between March 31 and April 8. The census takers listed only those who spent the night in each household, so individuals who were traveling or at school were listed where they spent the night. Almost all the residents of England are included in the census. Non-citizens were also included.
The original schedules are well preserved and housed at the Public Records Office in Kew. Microfilm copies are located at the Family History Library, at the Family Records Centre in England, and at county record offices and some libraries. An attempt is now being made to preserve the records by transcribing and publishing them. Some of these preservation efforts are being published in book form, while others are being posted on the Internet.
The British government has taken censuses every 10 years since 1801, except for 1941. This census covers those living in England and Wales on 3 April 1881.
The Registrar General created censuses for various reasons, including population studies, accessing military readiness, compiling lists of eligible voters, and tracking relief to the poor.
Census records usually contain the following information:
- Town, civil parish and church parish where census was taken
- Given names and surnames of each household member
- Relationship to head of household
- Age, gender, marital status and occupation of each household member
- Birthplace of each household member
- Physical impairments
How Do I Search the Collection?
As you begin your search in the census records, it is helpful to know the name of your ancestor and the time period when her or she lived.
To search this collection by name:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several records and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
All members of a family living in the same household will be listed together. When you find your family in one census, search earlier or later censuses to find additional family members and to verify details.
- Use the names of the family members to search for birth records of the family.
- If you have identified the names of the parents or the name of the spouse in the census of your ancestor, search for a marriage record for the couple.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Accept ages with caution.
- Given names may not be the same as a name recorded in church or vital records.
- The information may be incorrect.
- Names may be spelled phonetically (or as they sounded to the census taker).
- Place-names may be misspelled.
- Individuals missing from a family may be listed elsewhere in the census.
- You may have to read around marks made by the clerks who compiled the census data. These marks sometimes obscure information.
General Information About These Records
Census records are a good source to use as you search for your relatives. Use census records to help you find the age of your ancestor, as well as birthplace, occupation, and address. The records can also help you define relationships between individuals.
The information gathered by the census taker is only as reliable as the person who provided the information. While some information may not be completely accurate, it can still provide important clues in locating an ancestor.
Known Issues with This Collection
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Citing this Collection
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.n
- "England and Wales Census, 1881." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. From "1881 England, Scotland and Wales census." Database and images. findmypast. http://www.findmypast.com : n.d. Citing PRO RG 11. The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
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