Census returns in England, Wales, and Scotland

The 1841 Census was the first Census that recorded the name of every inhabitant. They continued to be taken every 10 years (except for 1941) up to the present day. The information contained in the Census can only be viewed after 100 years. So the Censuses from 1841 until 1911 can be viewed on various websites.

The 1841 Census recorded the inhabitants in each dwelling but did not give the relationship between those people living together.

The 1851 Census gives the names of the people in each dwelling, their relationship to the head of the family, their age, their rank, profession or occupation, where they were born and if they were blind or deaf and dumb.

The Censuses continued to be taken every 10 years in a similar fashion. However in 1911 was also added the question as to how long people had been married and how many children had they had and how many were still living.

Census returns in Ireland

From 1841 Census to the Census in 1911 Ireland was considered to be part of Great Britain and Census were taken in Ireland at the same time as the other parts of Great Britain. Unfortunately most of Ireland’s Census Returns have been destroyed but the Census for 1901 and 1911 survive and can also be viewed on various websites.

Although Censuses were taken for various political reasons; size of population, number of people working etc. and because the records of the Census Returns were kept, we have been left a tremendous genealogical source.

What I have been working on

sheI was recently asked by a client to trace her paternal family tree. She knew that her paternal grandfather had been a Lamplighter after the First World War and thought this was because he had been gassed during the War. However, when he joined the Army in 1917 his occupation was shown as Lamplighter and returned to his occupation after the war.

She also remembered her Grandmother having two polish girls living with her in the late 1940s/50s. The Census returns for 1911 showed that her Grandparents also had lodgers then. There were two families each with one child living in the house as ‘tenants’.

What she didn’t know was that her father had had a sister who was born and unfortunately died before he was born. She said how it made her understand why her grandmother always seemed over concerned about her father’s health. It may also explain why her father was baptised just one month after his birth.