Monday, 21 March 2011

Census Count Down......

Last week the 2011 census paperwork plopped through my letterbox. I had a glance through it and pondered and considered the changes that the census has endured since it commenced in 1801. I also felt a glimpse of sadness, as an article on the BBC website last year suggested that the 2011 census may well be the last one. The official Census sites are HERE and HERE

Initially the census in 1801 was produced as a head count. How many females and males lived within the United Kingdom. Most of the early census' from 1801 - 1831 have not survived, but every now and again an early one is established as survived, which is a great historical fact, but it does not contain any personal data to the individuals it covered. There are also mini population studies that have survived.

The parish that I have studied extensively is that of Puttenham Surrey. In 1824 there was a document called the Preambulation of Puttenham in which those who walked the boundaries of the parish are listed. This was not compulsory, but it does name those who took part and as such is not conclusive in the evidence it leaves behind, it does occur during the time scale of the early census' when naming of individuals was not done and the early census have in part not survived.

There has been a census every ten years since 1801, with the exception of the 1941 Census which didn't occur because of the Second World War. The dates for the census from 1801, which is the earliest Census with any specific data relating to individuals, until 2011 are as follows:

10th March 1801
27th May 1811
28th May 1821
30th May 1831
6th June 1841
30th March 1851
7th April 1861
2nd April 1871
3rd April 1881
5th April 1891
31 March 1901
2nd April 1911
19th June 1921
26th April 1931 (England & Wales) and destroyed by enemy action in 1942
none in 1941
8th April 1951
23rd April 1961
25th April 1971
5th April 1981
21st April 1991
29th April 2001
27th March 2011

There are two additions, which can be of use to those researching. In 1939 The National Registration Act came into force as an emergency action due to the Second World War and in 1966 there was a trailling of alternative methods of data collecting.

The census date for 2011 is 27th March and I reflected on the census that I will appear on. There will be genealogical mysteries for future generations if anyone is looking for me on the census.
  • In 1971 I appear on the Guildford Surrey Census with my Mum, and her parents
  • In 1981 I appear on the Guildford Surrey Census with my Mum and her mother only
  • In 1991 I do not appear on the Census anywhere in the UK as I was overseas. I also do not appear on that Census either.
  • In 2001 I am in Devon with a different surname having married in another overseas Country and living with my husband. My Mum will appear also at my address.
  • In 2011 I am in Devon with the same surname as in the 2001 census with my husband and my Mum recorded as a visitor.
The questions of the 2011 Census are not I think particularly intrusive. There are some basic surprises. There is no reference to where I was born, only specifying England, Wales and so forth. There is more data and interest on how many rooms my home has and who owns it.

In 2001, I took a photocopy of the census form before I returned it. In the 2011 Census we can complete the forms online, which reflects the technological changes that our Society has undergone in the last ten years. We still haven't decided whether to complete online this year and I have just under a week before we have to make the decision.

How will you complete yours and will you archive a copy?


  1. I don't believe I officially welcomed you to the A to Z Challenge. I had added myself as a follower but I guess that was it. In any case, greetings and have a great time in April.

    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

  2. Wow. Thanks for letting us know about how the Census works where you live. In the United States, the Census is every ten years too. The difference is that it's done on paper and I don't think it would ever stop occurring anytime soon. The Census tells the government what groups of people live where and their needs like libraries, schools. . . The government doesn't release who took the Census until about fifty years after the fact.

    I really love the genealogical value of it. I've found the Census that my great-grandparents took almost a hundred years ago. To be able to see glimpses of my family's past is amazing.


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