England and Wales Census, 1841 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: England and Wales Census, 1841 .
This census covers those living in England and Wales on 7 June 1841.
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).
The British 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. Almost all the residents of England, whether were citizens or not, are included in the census.
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.
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.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Great Britain Census Office. England and Wales Census 1841. Great Britain Public Record Office, London, England.
These census records usually contain the following information:
- Place, district, parish and county where census was taken
- Given name and surname for each household member
- Birthplace, age and gender for each household member
How to Use the Record
To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:
- Name of ancestor
- Approximate year of birth
- Place of birth
Search the Collection
For a collection that is searchable by name:
Fill in the requested information in the search page. When you search for your ancestor, there will be a list of possible matches for them. Compare the information about the ancestors in the record that you have found, to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information on the image of the record to make sure that the record is correct.
Using the Information
When you have found your family, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.
- Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family.
- Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as school records; children’s occupations are often listed as “at school.”
It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. The relationships given will help you to organize family groups. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even an county.
- You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child.
- You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents.
- Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census.
- You should also be aware that the census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.
General Information About These Records
There are various marks within the census that can also provide help to identify families. A single forward slash mark "/" meant the end of a family, while two forward slash marks "//" showed the end of the occupants in that one dwelling.
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.
There are missing images in various areas that did not survive. FindMyPast provides a detailed listing as well as Ancestry.co.uk; note that Ancestry's information is further down on the web page. If you are unable to locate your ancestor in this census, it is a good idea to make sure that the area they are living in survived and was digitized; otherwise, you will not be able to locate them in this census record.
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"England and Wales Census 1841," images, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org: accessed 9 March 2011), Anna Phillips, age 40; citing Great Britain, Household Records, Census Office, London, England.
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