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A census has been taken in England and Wales every ten years since 1801 with the exception of 1941. However, no personal details were collected for the early returns only statistical information. 1841 was the first census that contained any information that is of use to the family historian, including name, age, address, occupation and in later returns details of place of birth, infirmity and from 1891 - language spoken - English, Welsh or both.

The original household schedules from 1841 to 1901 were copied by the enumerator into enumerator's books, these are the records that are available to view today, the original household schedules were subsequently destroyed. However, the 1911 census is different, this was the first census for which the original schedules were preserved and made available.

The 1921 census is the latest available, it is the most detailed census to date and will be the last to be released until 2052, as the 1931 census was lost in a fire and no census was taken in 1941 because of the Second World War.


  • 1841-1881 microfilm
  • 1881 index microfiche
  • 1891-1901 microfiche
  • 1841-1911 Free online access through Findmypast and Ancestry Library within the Library building.
  • 1921 free online access through Findmypast with the Library building.

Transcripts and indexes of numerous census returns have been created by county family history societies, check the Catalogue