England and Wales Census, 1851 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: England and Wales Census, 1851 .
This collection will include records for 1851.
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).
Microfilm copies are also available at the Family Records Centre, located at 1 Myddelton Street, Islington, London EC1R 1UW.
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 of the residents of England, whether they were citizens or not, are included in the census.
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 31 March 1851.
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.
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.
As with the 1841 census, the 1851 census has missing images. Ancestry.co.uk has provided a list of the missing images, as well as a listing of the areas that were damaged by water during storage and recoverable through new technology. FindMyPast also provides a listing, but you need to scroll down to this section to view it. If you are unable to locate your ancestor, it is wise to make sure their living area is one of the missing areas.
Census records usually contain the following information:
- Date, place, district, parish and county where census was taken
- Given names and surnames for members in each household
- Age, gender and birthplace for each household member
- Marital status and occupation for each household member
- Relationship to the head of the household
How to Use the Records
To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the person's name and the time period when he or she lived.
Search the Collection
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 images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips
Tips to Keep in Mind
- You may have to read around marks made by the clerks who compiled the census data. These marks sometimes obscure the information.
- The census record may also list the birth country for people born outside of England.
- 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.
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records.
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.
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.
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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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 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.
- "England and Wales Census, 1851." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Great Britain Census Office. National Archives, Surrey, England.