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Scotland Census, 1861 - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Scotland

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Scotland Census, 1861
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Scotland
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Flag of Scotland
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Record Description
Record Type Census
Collection years 1861
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
The National Archives, Kew, Surrey and New Register House, Edinburgh


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The British government has taken censuses every 10 years since 1801. This guide covers the 1861 Census of Scotland.

Scotland's population for the 1861 Census was enumerated on: 7 April 1861.

This data has been provided by Findmypast.

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. 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. Parts of the 1861 census are faint and sometimes unreadable. This has occurred through damage or neglect in storing the records. 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 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?[edit | edit source]

Census Records for 1861 contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Parish and county of birth
  • Registration District
  • Estimated birth year

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample of indexed information

John Glen Scotland Census, 1861
Event Type Census
Event Date 1861
Gender Male
Age 45
Birthplace Renfrewshire
Registration District The Parish Of Mains
County Forfarshire (Angus)
Birth Year (Estimated) 1816

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

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

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

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

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

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?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Try finding family members who may be listed with your ancestor on the census record
  • 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
  • Use the age and estimated birth year to search for a birth record
  • If a spouse is listed, search for a marriage record

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • 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
  • Look for people who have the same surname as your ancestor and who live in the same vicinity; they may be related
  • You may have to read around marks made by the clerks who compiled the census data. These marks sometimes obscure the information

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Scotland.


Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

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:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

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