Census returns

A census has taken place in England and Wales every 10 years since 1801 (with the exception of 1941). The first four of these generated largely statistical returns, but some census enumerators also listed names of householders and occasionally those of their families. [Binfield's 1801 census is a Berkshire example.]

 

The first census of real and universal significance for family historians was taken on the night of Sunday, June 6 1841. Names were recorded of everyone resident in each property, starting with the head of household. In many cases, even vagrants and those living rough in tents were also recorded. But there is little doubt that in the summer of 1841, significant numbers of people were missed. The information on this census is quite limited, and ages of adults were invariably rounded downwards, making interpretation difficult in some cases.

 

The next census taken on the night of Sunday, March 30, 1851 was a much grander affair, and far more useful for family historians. Around 30,000 enumerators collected 4.3 million schedules. These were eventually transcribed, into 38,000 books. The precise dates of the England and Wales censuses were:

 

1801 Census

Tuesday 10th March 1801

Limited information, and only available where the lists of individuals have been kept

1811 Census

Monday 27th May 1811

Limited information, and only available where the lists of individuals have been kept

1821 Census

Monday 28th May 1821

Limited information, and only available where the lists of individuals have been kept

1831 Census

Sunday 29th May 1831

Limited information, and only available where the lists of individuals have been kept

1841 Census

Sunday 6th June 1841

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc — but contains limited detail on individuals

1851 Census

Sunday 30th March 1851

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1861 Census

Sunday 7th April 1861

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1871 Census

Sunday 2nd April 1871

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1881 Census

Sunday 3rd April 1881

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1891 Census

Sunday 5th April 1891

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1901 Census

Sunday 31st March 1901

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1911 Census

Sunday 2nd April 1911

Complete, widely published and available online with Findmypast, The Genealogist etc

1921 Census

Sunday 19th June 1921

Anticipated publication date 1st January 2022

1931 Census

Sunday 26th April 1931

Destroyed by fire (not by enemy action) during the Second World War

The 1939 Register

Friday 29th September 1939

A "mini-census" compiled by 65,000 enumerators and sent to every household in England and Wales, the Register records details of over 41 million people, with their names, addresses, dates of birth, marital status and occupations. Issue of National Identity Cards followed and the registers were used for other purposes after the Second World War ended. The 1939 register has been made available online by Findmypast — with some records subject to (essentially 100 year) closure.

1941 Census

No census taken  

1951 Census

Sunday 8th April 1951

Expected publication date 1st January 2052

1961 Census

Sunday 23rd April 1961

Expected publication date 1st January 2062

1966 Census

Sunday 24th April 1966

Ten per cent sample only, trialling an alternative method of enumeration, expected publication date 1st January 2067

1971 Census

Sunday 25th April 1971

Expected publication date 1st January 2072

1981 Census

Sunday 5th April 1981

Expected publication date 1st January 2082

1991 Census

Sunday 21st April 1991

Expected publication date 1st January 2092

2001 Census

Sunday 29th April 2001

Expected publication date 1st January 2102

2011 Census

Sunday 27th March 2011 

Expected publication date 1st January 2112


Page last revised and updated 3rd March 2016

Additional information