Pre-1841 Censuses & Population Listings by Colin R. Chapman. Published by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1001 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore MD 21202. Fourth Edition 1994. USA edition 1996. 82 pp. Appendices, Index. Softcover. $15 plus $3.50 shipping ($1.25 for each additional book).

For many, the 1841 census in England marks the beginning of an era. It was the first of the national nineteenth century returns of use to the family historian. In reality, the 1841 census was an end product. It marked the end of a decades-long campaign to create a national census which included everyone. This process generated hundreds of local, regional and national lists which counted or named everyone in a community or in a specific segment of the population across the country. The goal of this book is to describe these lists.

The listings are divided into six chapters: 16th century; 17th century; 1700-1749; 1750-1775; 1776-1786; after 1787. Each paragraph gives very specific details about one or more listings in general chronological sequence and describes why the list was originally generated. Thus local parish and community enumerations are jumbled among national military, civil and ecclesiastical surveys, tax and poll lists. Because of its organization, this is not a book to sit down and read sequentially. However, it is a book to examine if you are looking for information about what listings were generated, why and where copies or originals may be located now. All listings mentioned in the text are well footnoted so that you can proceed with further research.

The first appendix provides a listing of censuses containing the names of individual by county and then by community with date. This listing does not include the many numerical listings mentioned in the text or the 80-plus tax, military and church censuses listed in the index. Appendix II lists returns for the numerical decennial census of 1801 to 1831 where individuals are named. The lists of communities with named individuals continues to grow. For example, in this volume 27 communities in Essex are listed for the 1811 census whereas in the 1992 third edition only 4 are listed. Similar increases are noted for many counties suggesting that if you are looking in this time period it is certainly worth obtaining a current edition of this resource. The communities in Ireland with surviving named census returns in this time period are regarded as too numerous to list, and the researcher will need to look elsewhere.

Overall, an excellent resource for the researcher wanting to explore further the population listings prior to 1841.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.3 no.2, 1996