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Census Returns

The Census has been collected every ten years since 1801 (apart from 1941) and the original enumerators’ schedules are available to view after 100 years. It is the censuses for 1841 onwards which are invaluable to family and local historians because they include details of:

  • Where your ancestor lived
  • Their age on the census night
  • Family relationships
  • Their occupation
  • Where they were born

Census indexes and images are available on subscription websites such as:

  • Ancestry (1841-1911) – free to view in local libraries
  • Find My Past (1841-1911) - free to view in local libraries
  • Genes Reunited (1841-1911)
  • The Genealogist

The Census forms were completed on a Sunday evening as follows:

  • 1841 6 June
  • 1851 30 March
  • 1861 7 April
  • 1871 2 April
  • 1881 3 April
  • 1891 5 April
  • 1901 31 March
  • 1911 2 April

All collected on the Sunday evening end of March/beginning of April (ie end of the tax/old legal year) apart from the 1841 which was collected in June.

1911 Census

The only census where you see the original forms completed by householders with the original signature and handwriting of the head of household. Called the ‘fertility’ census because married women were asked how long they had been married and how many children from that marriage were alive or who had died.


1939 Register - available on Find My Past and Ancestry

Taken on 29 September 1939 at outbreak of WW2 to enable registration for National Identity Cards.  

Later became the basis of NHS records. Information amended until computerised in 1990s so women's subsequent change of surname at marriage added.

100 year closure same as other census records.   Records blacked out can be opened if individual has died.


Search Tips:

Less gets you more results – enter only FOUR pieces of information into search form: SURNAME, FIRST NAME, APPROX DATE OF BIRTH & COUNTY.