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

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: England and Wales Census, 1881 .

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 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. 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. Noncitizens 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.

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, 1881. National Archives, Surrey, England.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

The 1881 census contains the following information:

England and Wales 1881 Census.jpg
  • 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

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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

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.

You must know the person's name and the time period when he or she lived. If there is no index available, you need to know where the person lived. You may have to read around marks made by the clerks who compiled the census data. These marks sometimes obscure the information.

Other things to consider when finding and using census information are:

  • 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.

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.


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.

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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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.

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, 1881," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed March 2011), Howard Jones, age 15, citing Household Records, FHL microfilm 1,342,258; from Find My Past LTD - London.

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