HL Early Censuses 1811-31 & Index.pdf
HL 1841 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1851 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1861 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1871 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1881 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1891 Census & Index.pdf
HL 1901 Census & Index.pdf
census was undertaken through house to house enquiry
by the parish Overseers of the Poor, who had to
provide answers to three main questions:
1. How many inhabited and uninhabited houses and by how
many families occupied?
2. How many males and females?
3. How many employed in (a) Agriculture (b) Trade,
Manufacture & Handicraft and (c) Neither? In larger
parishes information gathering took more than one
which did not include names or addresses, were
entered onto a prescribed schedule, attested before
a Justice of the Peace and then forwarded to Mr.
John RICKMAN in London. RICKMAN was formerly a clerk
in the House of Commons and had been involved in the
preparation of the Census Bill. He was given the
responsibility by His Majesty’s Privy Council for
collating all the census schedules sent to him. It
took nearly 9 months to arrive at the Official
Population of England & Wales, which in 1801 was
about 8.34 million.
in 1840, having played a large part in the first
four censuses. In the same year, the Population Act
was passed, which gave responsibility for future
censuses to the Registrar General and set the
pattern for modern censuses.
In 1904 the
schedules for the first four censuses, which all
followed a similar pattern to the 1801 one, were
destroyed, when it was decided that they were of no
historic value and took up too much room. All that
remains now are the population figures.
for local historians some parishes made copies of
their schedules before despatching them. For
Somerset, a mere handful of such copies exist, but
thanks to the Overseers, Dr Peter Edward SCOBELL and
Richard BROOKE, a full copy of the 1811 schedule for
High Littleton and Hallatrow was entered in the back
of the Overseers Account Book. In 1821, a copy was
made of the individual column totals, but without
Census was taken on Monday 7th June.
This was the first of the censuses to be organised
by the Registrar General and aimed to list the
entire population by name. Being taken in June, it
is likely that a number of persons were not counted
as they moved around the country in search of
seasonal work. Similarly no special arrangements
were made to cater for persons who were on night
work or otherwise out of their homes temporarily on
the night of the census. The information requested
was very simple and consisted of:
Place of abode - often no more than the name of the
village or hamlet was given.
Number of houses inhabited, uninhabited and being
Name, age and sex of each person in the household.
Up to the age of 15 years, ages were required to be
recorded exactly, from 15 to 19 as 15, 20 to 24 as
20, 25 to 29 as 25 and so on. Notwithstanding this
instruction many people gave their actual age.
Profession, Trade, Employment or of Independent
Means. Enumerators were instructed to write J. for
Journeyman, Ap. for Apprentice and Sh. for Shopman
after a person’s trade. It was unnecessary to insert
the word Master, as everyone not described as a
Journeyman or Apprentice was deemed to be a Master.
Other abbreviations used were MS and FS for male and
female servant, Ag. Lab. for agricultural labourer,
Ind. for independent means and Annt. for annuitant.
Where born. The information was required in the form
of Yes or No to the question “whether born in the
same county”. If one was born in Scotland, Ireland
or Foreign Parts, the letters S, I or F had to be
added as appropriate. In some cases the county of
birth was gratuitously recorded, instead of “No” -
contrary to instructions.
Census was taken on Sunday 30th
The information provided was far more detailed than
in 1841 and therefore of much greater benefit to
researchers. In particular:
Schedules were listed in walking order, making it
relatively easy to identify the whereabouts of a
The name or number of each house and street name was
required to be given, although in a rural district
few houses had names, numbers were generally
non-existent and street names unofficial.
As before, houses inhabited, uninhabited and being
built had to be identified separately.
Schedules were required to be completed by the head
of each household. However, in the absence of clear
instructions, lodgers and servants who lived in were
sometimes recorded as separate households and other
times as part of the main family’s household.
Relationship to the head of the household was shown
for the first time, as was the marital condition of
each person of marriageable age.
Exact ages in years (or days, weeks, months as
appropriate, for children under 1 year) were
required to be shown. However, the person completing
the Schedule was not always accurate and often
guessed the ages of members of the household.
Profession, Trade, Employment” replaced “Rank,
Profession or Occupation” and employers were
instructed to show additional details, such as
number of hands employed and acreage farmed. A
farmer’s family who worked on the farm were to be
described merely as Farmer’s wife, Farmer’s daughter
or son etc.
Where born” called for the name of the parish of
birth and county, rather than a mere Yes or No to
the question “Whether born in the same county”.
However, here again, the person completing the
Schedule sometimes did not check what he answered on
behalf of others.
Persons who were Blind or Deaf or Dumb had to be
identified as such on the Schedule.
Census was taken on Sunday 8th April.
The information provided differed in one minor
respect from 1851 in that Imbeciles or Idiots and
Lunatics had to be identified as such on the
given to Enumerators as to what constituted a
household. Thus, a household might consist of
parents, children, live-in servants, visitors and
boarders at the same table, but a lodger
alone or lodgers who boarded together
constituted a separate household, although,
ironically, the head of the latter household would
still be described as Lodger, rather than
Head, on the Schedule.
Census was taken on Sunday 2nd April
and followed the pattern of the 1861 one.
Census was taken on Sunday 3rd April
and followed the same pattern as 1861 and 1871.
Census was taken on Sunday 5th April.
It included two new sections, viz: