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Census: 1841 to 1911

In England and Wales, a Census has been taken every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941 during WWII.  Most of the very early censuses were simply head-counts, so of little use to us beyond providing statistics.  Those from 1841 recorded individuals who were living in each household.  The National Archives provide a research guide on the Census Returns explaining the information you can expect to find in them.

Census Resources

FreeCEN UK Census Online FreeCEN - Volunteers are in the process of transcribing the 1841-1891 census returns for various counties across the United Kingdom. Transcriptions are searchable and free to view. FreeCEN welcome new transcribers, so if you can help please see their Transcription Page and contact the Coordinator for the County you are interested in.

1881 Census - Searchable for free at the Family Search LDS website. Results show transcriptions of the household with the option to visit their partner site Findmypast to view the orignal census scan for a fee.

Ships in UK Ports 1881 - Bob Sanders provides transcriptions of ships that were in UK ports in the 1881 census.  These include passengers, crew, Royal Navy personnel and mariners at various shore establishments e.g. Royal Navy Barracks, Training Schools, colleges and prisons.

Archive CD Books USA Archive CD Books Ireland Archive CD Books Canada Archive CD Books Australia Archive CD Books was founded by Rod Neep in March 2000 with the aim of reproducing old books, documents and maps onto CD-rom for genealogists and historians.  Due to Rod's retirement, resources are no longer available from the British site.  However, resources which include scans of the original census enumerator's books are still available for various English counties and can be purchased from the Archive CD Books sites in Australia, Canada, Ireland and USA.  Please click on the country flag to take you to the respective store.

The scans of documents have been reproduced on CD-rom as PDF files.  To view these CD's, you will need Adobe Reader.

Commercial Pay-to-View Census Scans

The following companies offer free searches of their census indexes. Access to view census returns on either a pay-per-view or subscription basis.

Some of these records may be viewable for free where research centres have subscribed to commercial websites. For further information see Public Access Computers: Genealogical Websites.

  • Search the UK Census records at Ancestry.com Ancestry.com - Census Returns for England and Wales, the Isle of Mann, Channel Islands and Scotland (1841-1911). 
  • Find my Past Find My Past - England and Wales Census (1841-1911), Scotland Census (1841-1901) and some earlier census records for parishes where they survive.
  • Genes Reunited Genes Reunited - England and Wales censuses (1841-1911) and Scotland censuses(1841-1901).
  • Origins.net Origins.net - Provides access to British Origins, Irish Origins plus free Scots Origins services. Contains the England and Wales census (1841, 1861 and 1871).
  • The Genealogist Logo The Genealogist - England and Wales censuses (1841-1911).