UK Census Records

UK Census Records provide invaluable information for genealogists, and they are made public after 100 years.  Currently, all the census records from 1841 up to 1911 are available, but the 1921 records will not be available until 2021.  The UK Census records for 1931 were destroyed by fire, and there was no census in 1941 because of the Second World War.

Part of 1861 UK Census records
Part of the 1861 UK Census Records showing George and Matilda Underwood and family

Whilst not a Census, the 1939 Register was taken on 29 Sept 1939 on the eve of the Second World War and was used to produce identity cards and subsequently for ration cards.  Information about people on the 1939 Register who are known to have died has been made public, but information on people still alive is blacked out.

The dates of the censuses were 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

The UK Census contains the following information:

1841 UK Census

  • First name and surname
  • Age (rounded down to the nearest five years for those aged 15 or over)
  • Sex
  • Occupation
  • Whether they were born in the county where they were enumerated (Y or N)
  • Whether they were born in Scotland (S), Ireland (I) or Foreign Parts (P)

1851 UK Census and 1861 UK Census

  • First name, middle names (often just initials) and surname
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Marital status
  • Age (at last birthday)
  • Sex
  • Rank, profession or occupation
  • Where born – county and parish if born in England or Wales, country only if born outside England and Wales)
  • Whether blind, or deaf and dumb

1871 UK Census and 1881 UK Census

As 1851 and 1861, except for the following difference:

  • Last column now reads: 1. Blind 2. Deaf and Dumb 3. Imbecile or Idiot 4. Lunatic

1891 UK Census

As 1871 and 1881 with the following extra details on employment:

  • Whether Employer, Employed, or Neither Employer nor Employed
  • Language spoken (Wales only)

1901 UK Census

As 1891, but with occupation details changed to:

  • Employer, Worker or Own account
  • A new column ‘If working at home’
  • Language spoken (Isle of Man only)

1911 UK Census

As 1901, but with extra questions:

  • For married women only, the number of years of their present marriage, the number of children born of that marriage, the number still living, and the number that had died.
  • As well as their occupation, the industry in which the person was employed. If employed by a government, municipal or other public body, the name of that body.
  • Parish and county of birth for anyone born in the UK (which included all of Ireland). If born elsewhere in the British Empire, the colony or dependency, and the state or province.
  • For anyone born outside England and Wales, whether they were resident or visitor in the country.
  • Nationality of anyone born overseas whether British by parentage, British by naturalisation (including year of naturalisation) or, if a foreign national, of which country.
  • In the Infirmity column, the age at which the person had become afflicted.

There is comprehensive information about UK Census Records  available on the National Archive website including what information was collected each year, how to reference them, why they were taken etc.

UK Census Records transcripts are available free on many sites, but you usually have to pay to view images of the records themselves.  Transcripts should always be checked against the actual image, as the transcripts themselves can contain many errors.