Scotland Census, 1851 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Scotland Census, 1851
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Scotland
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Record Description
Record Type Census
Collection years 1851
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
The National Archives, Kew, Surrey and New Register House, Edinburgh


What is in This Collection?

The British government has taken censuses every 10 years since 1801. This guide covers censuses of Scotland in 1851.

Scotland's population was enumerated on 31 March 1851.

This data has been provided by Findmypast.com.

Census schedules consist of large sheets with preprinted rows and columns. The schedules are arranged by county and then divided by civil parish. Some are further subdivided into smaller enumeration districts, each district being an area that could be enumerated in a day. The information was recorded in columns on two pages that face each other. Information is recorded in entries that cover two facing pages. 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 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.

The Registrar General created the national censuses of the British population. However, the actual gathering of information was usually done by the Home Office of each county with assistance from the county sheriff. The census was completed in one day, then the census books were sent to the Registrar General’s office in London. Almost all of the residents of Scotland are included in the census.

The Registrar General created censuses for several reasons, including population studies, accessing military readiness, compiling lists of eligible voters, and tracking relief to the poor.

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.

Enumerators went door to door collecting the data in census books. 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.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The 1851 census includes the following:

  • Names
  • Ages
  • Parishes and counties of birth
  • Occupations
  • Relationships to the head of the household for each person
  • Sometimes the birth country for people born outside of England

Collection Content

Sample of indexed information:

John Abercrombie Scotland Census, 1851
Name John Abercrombie
Gender Male
Age 29
Birthplace Aberdeenshire
Registration District Kincardine Oneil
County Aberdeenshire
Birth Year (Estimated) 1822

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the person you are looking for
  • Residence

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the birth year and birth place to search for birth records
  • Try finding family members who may be listed with your ancestor on the census record
  • Look for people who have the same surname as your ancestor and who live in the same vicinity; they may be related
  • Look for the families of children in later census years
  • Check each census for the period in which a person lived to verify the information in any particular census year and to find additional information

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • 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
  • Children might have taken the name of the stepfather if the mother remarried
  • The family name may have been altered after emigration from Scotland
  • You may have to read around marks made by the clerks who compiled the census data. These marks sometimes obscure the information
  • Consult the Scotland Record Finder to find other records

Known Issues with This Collection

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"Scotland Census, 1851." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. From "1851 England, Scotland & Wales census." Database. findmypast. http://www.findmypast.com : 2012. Citing PRO HO 107. The National Archives UK, Kew, Surrey.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

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