UK 1891 Census

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director, Find My Past Ltd., talks about what can be found in the United Kingdom census records.

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director, Find My Past Ltd., talks about how the census records were compiled.


Historical Context: An eventful year, 1891 saw fourteen ships sink in storms in March, and the opening of the London-Paris telephone system. Primary schooling fees were abolished, and Sherlock Holmes hit popular magazines.

Questions Asked in the 1891 Census
Column 1 No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
Column 2 Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
Column 3 Houses; separate columns for inhabited and uninhabited or being built (entered as 'U' or 'B')
Column 4 Number of rooms occupied if less than five
Column 5 Name and surname
Column 6 Relationship to head of family
Column 7 Condition; marital status
Column 8 Age last birthday; separate columns for males and females
Column 9 Rank, profession or occupation
Column 10 Employer; 'X' inserted
Column 11 Employed; 'X' inserted
Column 12 Neither employer nor employed; 'X' inserted
Column 13 Where born; county/place
Column 14 Whether 1 - Deaf & dumb, 2 - Blind, 3 - Lunatic, Imbecile or Idiot

In Wales and Monmouthshire only, the household schedules and enumeration books had an extra column for 'Language Spoken' which required either 'English', 'Welsh' or 'Both' to be entered.

Why This Database is Valuable: Changes to the questions asked for the 1891 census (in addition to names, ages, relationship to head of household, and marital status) concerned rooms occupied (if less than five), whether an employer, employee, or self-employed, and the languages spoken of in Wales. The 1891 census was taken on the 5th of April and includes the following information for each person enumerated: name, address, relation to head of family, marital status, gender, age, profession and birthplace.

Census records are valuable since they can tell you where a person lived at a certain place and time. Censuses were conducted by the federal government and will offer a variety of information, depending on year. Census records can answer questions like where your ancestors were living at the time the census was taken, who they were living with, what their occupations were, who their neighbors were, if they had any brothers and sisters, what their ages were at the time of the census and if they had any disabilities.

Next Steps: With the information you gain from these census records, you will have the information you need to search for vital records in the locality where you found your ancestor. Also, the fact that census returns are taken every ten years also allows you to track the movements of our ancestors through time as they perhaps move house, get married, have children or even change occupations.

NOTE FROM CONTENT PROVIDER:

About the 1891 census The 1891 census was taken on the night of 5 April 1891 and gave the total population as 28,999,725. The golden rule of family history is to check the original historical record, or "primary source', wherever possible. We have provided clear images of the original census enumeration books for you to view once you've found the right family in the indexes. (These images are available in at the end of February 2008.) When using census returns you should first search the transcriptions to help locate your ancestor in the census, and then view the original images to validate your findings. It will also help you see the household in the context of surrounding households. This is particularly important as transcribing an entire census is a huge and difficult task, and whilst we have used the expertise of our transcribers and the experience of key representatives from the genealogy community to help us translate the records, it is inevitable that there will be some errors.

Note: the census includes details of people resident in docked vessels and institutions such as prisons, workhouses, hospitals, and barracks, as well as individual households. What can you find in the 1891 census? Census returns can not only help us determine who our ancestors were, but they can also tell us * Where your ancestors were living * Who they were living with * What their occupations were * If they had any servants * Who their neighbors were * If they had any brothers and sisters * What their ages were at the time of the census * If they had any disabilities. As well as giving us the above information, the fact that census returns are taken every ten years also allows us to track the movements of our ancestors through time as they perhaps move house, get married, have children or even change occupations. The fields which have been transcribed for the 1891 census are: * First name * Middle name * Last name * Sex * Birth place * Age * Place of residence * County * Relationship to head of household As well as searching for a person, you can also search the 1891 census by address - ideal for tracing your house history or exploring the local history of an area. By noting how many households there were in a building, and whether the household included servants or boarders or visitors, you can gain insight into the social circumstances of the family.