England and Wales Census, 1861 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: England and Wales Census, 1861 .
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.
The Historical Records Index
The index was republished on 23 February 2011 to reflect both the ecclesiatical parish and civil parish for each event to provide further assistance in locating entries.
Population schedule for England, Wales, Isle of Man and Channel Islands showing population as of 7 April 1861. This data has been provided by Findmypast.com.
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
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.
How to Use the Records
Begin your search by locating your ancestor in the census. Compare the information in the census 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 of more than one family or person to make this determination.
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. For example:
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.
Some other helpful tips to keep in mind are:
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
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 Record 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.
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.
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Contributions to This Article
Sources of Information for This Collection:
"England and Wales Census, 1861," database, FamilySearch; (http://familysearch.org) from Great Britain Census Office. "Census Returns of England and Wales." Great Britain Census Office, London, England. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections
Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection:
"England and Wales Census, 1861."index and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org): accessed March 9, 2011. entry for Elizabeth Clark, age: 18; citing Household Records; Great Britain Census Office, London, England.
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