The UK 1841 Census

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A census is a complete population count for a given area or place taken on a specific date. The 1841 census is considered to be the first modern UK census. Each householder was required to complete a census schedule giving the address of the household, the names, ages, sexes, occupations and places of birth of each individual residing in his or her accommodation.

In 1841, the administration of the census passed into the hands of the Registrar General and the Superintendent Registrars (who were also responsible for the registration of births, marriages and deaths).

After information was recorded on pre-printed census schedules, a schedule was left with a household and later collected by the enumerator. If there was no one in the house who could write, the enumerator helped to record the information. The census enumerator then copied the information on the schedules into their official books known as census enumerators' books. Unfortunately, the original census schedules have been destroyed and it is the census enumerator's books that researchers see on the microfilm. Because the information in the books is a copy of the information on the schedule, there were often mistakes made in transcribing the information.

Census Information:

Possible Pitfalls in Using the Census
Many people don't realise that the census page images we see are actually transcripts of the household census forms, the details were copied into the books by the enumerators.


Case Study - Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett
Throughout their 20 month courtship and before getting engaged, Robert and Elizabeth exchanged around 600 letters. This is how their marriage record was found.


Daniel Albone in the 1861 Census
Daniel Albone is famous for inventing the Ivel tractor, and is said to have changed the world of agriculture. He can be found in the 1861 census at the age of only six months.


Knebworth House, the 'stately home of rock' in the 1851 Census
The 1851 Census includes the records for Knebworth House, the 'stately home of rock', which has welcomed acts such as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Queen.


The 1841 census was taken on June 6.

It is filed at the Public Record Office in group code HO 107 (HO=Home Office).

Details the 1841 census can provide:

street name, house number or house name.

inhabited, uninhabited or a building.

Age and sex of each person:
Ages up to 15 are listed exactly as reported/recorded but ages over 15 were rounded to the nearest 5 years
(i.e. a person aged 53 would be listed on
the census as age 50 years).

Occupation/profession or trade

Birthplace, but only if the person was born in the county where the census was taken (usually recorded as a yes or no). If they were not born in the county there would be an entry such as S (for Scotland) or even an F for "born in foreign parts".

The end of each building is shown with two slashes // and the end of each household in a building is shown with one slash /.