1851 to 1901 Census Returns of England and Wales

The area covered by the 1851 to 1901 Census Returns is given much more fully than in the 1841 Census.  1851 to 1901 Census Returns also give much more detail of the household occupants.  

An individual's relationship to the head of the household is listed as is their status - Mar for married, Unm for unmarried and Wid for Widow or Widower.  Ages are given more accurately than in 1841 as the ages of adults are no longer rounded down to the nearest 5 years.

Occupations are recorded in more detail as it now lists the occupation of all household members, listing as scholar those still at school.

An individual's birthplace is now stated rather than just whether or not they had been born in the county which is much more helpful, but this information could still be incorrect so further research is always needed.  

If an individual was born and baptised in a different place to the one where they had been brought up they may have thought that was their birthplace and recorded it on the return.  

If an occupant was born outside England or Wales, in earlier censuses it simply stated the country of origin, giving no further information.  Much more information was recorded in later decades.

In 1851 and 1861 a column listed whether the individual was blind or deaf-and-dumb.  From 1871 to 1891 whether the individual was either an 'imbecile or idiot' or a 'lunatic' was added.  In 1901, 'idiot' was replaced by feeble-minded.

In 1891 and 1901 a column listed whether or not the individual was an employer or employee.

If the head of the household was married and the wife's relative was living in the family home, sometimes the householder could misunderstand and make it seem the wife's relative was related to him, which can be confusing.

Information was also given about the number of inhabited and uninhabited houses.

1851 to 1901 Census Returns at a glance

1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Address of Household Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Inhabited/Uninhabited Houses Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Name of Occupant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Relationship to Head of Household Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Condition Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gender Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Age Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Profession Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Whether employed or employer or neither No No No No Yes Yes
Blind or Deaf and Dumb Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
'Imbecile or Idiot' or Lunatic No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Feeble-minded No No No No No Yes

Where to find the 1851-1901 Census Returns

Most Record Offices hold the 1851 to 1901 Returns for their local area.  These can also be viewed at the National Archives.

The National Library of Wales holds the 1851 to 1901 Returns on microfiche for all of Wales.

You are also able to access free census records on-line at freecen.  Volunteers transcribe the information, the indexes being partially complete, but further information is being added constantly.

You can search the 1851-1901 Censuses online at Find My Past, The Genealogist and Ancestry. You are able to take out many different subscriptions through these sites.

Related Pages

1841 Census

1911 Census

Census Information

Census Reference

Census Returns