England and Wales Census, 1861 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England and Wales 1861 Census Population Schedules 

Collection Time Period

The English government has taken censuses every 10 years since 1801, except for 1941. This guide covers censuses from 1841,when censuses became genealogically useful, through 1901. 

Collection History

The Registrar General created the national censuses. Enumerators went door to door collecting the data in census books. The 1841 census was taken on June 7. 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. 

Why This Collection Was Created

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.

Collection Reliability

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.

Collection Description

Census schedules consist of large sheets with preprinted 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. The only exception to this is the 1841 census, which was arranged by “hundreds” (administrative subdivisions of land). 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). Almost all the residents of England, whether were citizens or not, are included in the census.

How To Use The Collection

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.

Collection Content

The 1841 census lists the members of each household, along with their name, sex, address, occupation, and whether they were born in the county. The census taker usually rounded the ages of those older than 15 down to a multiple of 5. Beginning with the 1851 census, the information listed includes names, ages, parish and county of birth, occupation, and relationship to the head of the household for each person. The census record may also list the birth country for people born outside of England.

Bibliographical Information

Great Britain. Census Office. Census Returns of England and Wales, [census year]. From URL, date accessed or downloaded. Digital identification number if any, county, parish, piece number, folio number. 

Great Britain. Census Office. Census Returns of England and Wales, [census year]. Salt Lake City. Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, [date]. Film number, item number, county, parish, piece number, folio number.