England and Wales Census, 1881 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Contents

Record Description

This collection will include 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 totally indexed but is in progress.

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.

Record Content

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 to Use the Record

To begin your search in the census records, it would be helpful if you knew the name and time period when your ancestor lived.

Search the Collection

To search by index:
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.

Using the Information

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 the 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 the information.
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Don't overlook FHL Place England items or FHL Keyword England items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see England Archives and Libraries.
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Don't overlook FHL Place Wales items or FHL Keyword Wales items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Wales Archives and Libraries.

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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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

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.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Related FamilySearch Historical Records

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"England and Wales Census, 1881." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2014. Citing The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.


Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England and Wales Census, 1881.


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  • This page was last modified on 2 October 2014, at 21:53.
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