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Family History - The United Kingdom Censuses.

A census of the population of the United Kingdom has been carried out every ten years since 1801. The census was carried out to accurately record every person in every house (even visitors who were just stopping the night), establishments, institution, and also every ship in ports in the United Kingdom on a particular date. A new census was carried out every ten years, and still is to the present day. A census under the present laws is kept private for one hundred years.

The 1801,1811,1821, 1831 and 1841 censuses were pretty much just headcounts, with little information being recorded. The 1841 census is not available in all research centres, but please do ask for yourself in your local archives. It is also important to know that the ages on the 1841 census for anyone over 14 years of age are rounded down to 5 year multiples.

From the 1851 census on the information just gets better and better, although the quality relied on the handwriting of the person recording the information - the enumerator. The information recorded ( which varied slightly depending on the year of the census ) included the place and address, names, ages, marital status, occupations, and places of birth. All of the censuses are available free to view at the National Archives in Kew and the Family Records Centre in Islington.

As you might imagine then, censuses are of great importance to the family historian, and much can be learned from them. Because of the 100 years privacy law, the latest census available currently is the 1901. Therefore to tap in to this resource we must know our ancestors names, where they were, and their approximate ages in 1901.

The 1911 Census was released to the public on 1st of January 2012. There was no 1941 census due to the war, but a national registration census was carried out in 1939.

Local archives, district libraries, and county record offices in the United Kingdom keep a copy on microfiche of every released census, and they also provide microfiche viewers on site. Therefore, if you are researching a census in your local area then the best thing to do is to visit your local archives.
To see a partial list of online census resources click on a census year below.



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