Genealogy Help

Census Returns

The 1881 Census

1881 England Census for Winston Churchill

The only differences between the previous censes and the 1881 return are the addition of 'lunacy' as one of the disabilities listed in column 9.

The census was taken on the night of 3 April 1881 gave the total population of Great Britain as 29,710,012. The example shown is that of Winston Churchill.

The elements are:

1 - Town and Parish

This shows you where the census was taken. It can be confusing in larger towns and cities, where the parish appears more important than the town name.

2 - Address

Addresses can be limited to the village or town name, or to a local derivation of it, for example - 'Chapel End'.

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3 - Inhabited

Was the house inhabited or not? This is useful if the town or village is not recorded with house numbers. It is possible to count 'households' from a landmark - pub, vicarage, etc. The uninhabited buildings were classified either as 'U', uninhabited; or 'B', building.

4 - Name

The first, middle and surname of the person - different spellings are possible even within the same family. An enumerator would write the details in, so the handwriting should be consistent throughout the page (if somewhat illegible), and they would interpret names as they felt it should be spelled if the person didn't know.

5 - Relationship to the head of the family

This column lists whether the person listed is a son, daughter, wife, etc. It also lists servants and borders, etc.

6 - Condition

The condition is the marital status! It is often abbreviated - 'U' (it often looks like an 'M'), or 'Un' means unmarried.

7 - Age at last birthday

Self-explanatory, and split between male and female, which does help if names are unclear. The records become more accurate from 1851, but it does rely on people knowing their age (or being honest about it!).

8 - Ranks, Profession or Occupation

It was normally only male entries and single women (often just servants) who had occupations listed.

9 - Where Born

No change to previous censes.

10 - Aliments

The politically incorrect column showing 'deformities' and disabilities.

11 - Source citation

This is the record number, comprising of the following:

  • Class which is RG11 for 1881.
  • Piece - At some point in the enumeration process, the returns were organised into distinct County groups. And a number of Enumeration Books were gathered into "Pieces". Unused leaves of the books were discarded.
  • Book - This is the enumerator's book.
  • Enumeration District - Self-explanatory.
  • Folio - A folio is either a leaf of the enumerator's book, or it is the two pages that can be viewed side by side in the open enumerator's book.
  • Page - Self-explanatory.
  • GSU roll - Copyright reference for the film of the page.

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