England Census Records and Indexes Online
The 1841 and subsequent censuses are all indexed online and can be searched by name, age, birthplace, or locality. Most of the commercial companies also have images available for download. The indexes can be problematic in that names can be spelled in various ways and indexers sometimes failed to interpret the spellings correctly. If you cannot find a person it means you need to vary your search parameters. The information in an index may be incorrect or incomplete. If you believe your ancestor was in a particular census area, search the census even if your ancestor is not in the index.
The Subscription websites have a variety of indexes, and or images of church records, military records, civil registration indexes, and a variety of other records. A collection of England census records that can be found at subscription websites:
- www.findmypast.co.uk or findmypast.com1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 are indexed with images. Searching by address is possible. This is a pay-per-view and subscription website. Findmypast is available for free at the Family History Library and Family History Centers.
- www.ancestry.co.uk or www.ancestry.com 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 are indexed with images. This is a subscription website. The added benefit at Ancestry.com is you can link census images to your online tree. The library edition of Ancestry.com is available for free at the Family History Library, and regional Family History Centers. A wiki article has been written on how best to search census records on Ancestry.
- MyHeritage has indexes with images for censuses: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911. It is a subscription website.
- UK Census Online has indexes with images for censuses: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911. It is a subscription website.
A collection of British census records can be found at various non-subscription websites: (Volunteer driven websites)
- FreeCen - Volunteers have been indexing the 1841 to 1891 census for many years at FreeCen. Check to see if your county and or parish has been indexed. If it has then this site will be of value to you. Volunteers are always needed to keep the site growing. Complete transcription of households are on this website.
- FamilySearch.org - The 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 England and Wales census indexes can be searched for free at FamilySearch.org. The original census return shows people in families, providing needed relationships to trace ancestry; however, the FamilySearch indexes show individuals out of context with their families. You will need to consult a subscription based website or a website that provides full transcription to see a family in context. There is one exception, the 1881 census.
- 1881 Census - A full transcription of the 1881 census can be viewed on Ancestry.com and Findmypast.co.uk and Familysearch.org without a subscription or fee.
Tips for Searching Census Indexes Online
Here are some tips for searching in online indexes.
- Searching online census indexes using wildcards is essential for success. Not every website may utilize the exact same wildcards. You may have to experiment with it.
When searching census records, consider the following:
- Names may be misspelled. Try spelling variations. Even consider different first letters.
- Ages are prone to be inaccurate.
- Birthplaces may be misspelled or inaccurate.
- Find the family in every possible census and compare information.
- Always consult the original census image, don't rely on indexes or transcriptions.
- Consider using street addresses to locate people in the census. A relative may be living at a previous or future address.