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About England & Wales Census 1871

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Census: Introduction and background currently includes a full index to and digitised images of the original 1871 Census records for all counties in England and Wales.

The census records are searchable by name, age, parish and county. The index records include the source record references, so that users with access to CDs of the original census records can use census index alongside these CDs.
Contents of the original 1871 census returns
The census is organised by property and household(s) within that property. For every property the following information is given:
  • Road, street, town or village and number or name of property
    - Rural properties may simply be referred to as, for example, "Cottage"
  • Whether inhabited
For inhabited properties, each household is given a
  • Schedule No
    - Each household filled in a census form, and this number refers to that form. If there are multiple households within a property, each household will have a different Schedule No.
For each person in a household the following is given:
  • Forename and surname
  • Relation to Head of Family
  • Condition [as to marriage]
    - ie married (usually abbreviated to "Mar" or similar), unmarried (usually abbreviated "Unm" or similar), or widowed ("W")
  • Age
    - For babies this may be given as days ("D"), weeks ("W") or months ("M").
    - There are separate columns for age of males and age of females. This has been been taken into consideration when capturing the index data, so allowing you to be able search on sex.
  • Occupation
  • Where born
    - Town and county or country
  • Whether deaf and dumb, blind, imbecile or idiot, or lunatic
See an example of the returns

A convention is used to separate entries for one house and also multiple households within one house. You will see small diagonal line just before some forenames. A double line separate houses; a single line separates households within a house. See, for example, Schedule No 64 & 65 on the example page.

Place name information A variety of place name data can appear on the header for each census page. The most useful ones are probably the following:
  • Civil parish: This should in theory always be present, though the person who originally completed the records often missed this out. (We have tried to ensure that the index records always contain the parish.) However, if the parish name is missing from the header on the census record pages it can usually be determined from the description within the Registration District Details.
  • Town: This only appears where the place is actually a town, as opposed to village or hamlet or some rural place.
  • Village or Hamlet: This only appears where the place is actually a village or hamlet, as opposed to a town or some rural place.
In addition, the following names may appear:
  • City or Municipal Borough: This does not always appear.
  • Muncipal Ward: This does not always appear.
  • Parliamentary Borough: This usually appears.
  • Local Board [or Improvement Commissioner's District]: This does not always appear.
  • Ecclesiastical District: This does not always appear.
Whether the above information has been entered appears to depend on how carefully the census returning officers fulfilled their duties. There is frequently a failure to provide place names (especially the parish) on pages following the first page dealing with properties in that place; we have tried to deal with such ommissions in the index data.

For crews of Vessels and residents of Institutions there are slightly different forms. However for many institutions the entries have been made on the normal (household forms). You can search for inmates of institutions and for vessel crew members just like the occupiers of any other place. But in these cases, the address field will contain the name of the institution or the name of the vessel. In the case of vessels, the home port is also given.

Registration District Details These details, which appear at the start of each set of census records, give the Superintendent Registrar's District, Registrar's Sub-district, Enumeration District Number, and a written description of what area the district covers (parish, towns, etc).
Census images
The digitised images of the census returns have been created from copies of microfilmed images of source documents, provided by The National Archives. The quality of the digitised images is generally quite good, and the entries are quite legible. However this is not always the case, and images may be difficult to read where original documents were damaged.

If from your viewing the images any of the index data is incorrect, please advise us.
The index records
The following data have been included in the index records:

Place data
  • Civil parish: This should always be present unless absent from the original returns; ie even if the actual census page does not include the parish, it should normally appear in the index records.
  • Town: Present only if the place actually is a town, as opposed to village or hamlet or some rural place. (In the latter case, there will be neither a town name or a village or hamlet.)
  • Village or Hamlet: Present only if the place is actually a village or hamlet, as opposed to a town; ie generally an index record will not contain both a town name and a village/hamlet name.
  • Superintendent Registrar's District: Normally present unless missing from the original
  • Registrar's Sub-district: Normally present unless missing from the original
  • Enumeration District Number: Normally present unless missing from the original.
  • City or Municipal Borough: If present on the original page.
  • Muncipal Ward: If present on the original page.
  • Parliamentary Borough: If present on the original page.
  • Local Board [or Improvement Commissioner's District]: If present on the original page.
  • Ecclesiastical District: If present on the original page.

People data
  • Last name
  • First name
  • Title: If included in the person's name (eg Reverend)
  • Misc: Information in the Name column which doesn't fit anywhere else, eg "Jnr" or "Sen"
  • Relation: either "Head", for the Head of the household, or the relationship to the Head
  • Sex: M or F
  • Age
  • Birth County: County if in England or Wales, otherwise the country or "AT SEA". This field is often very difficult to read so you will sometimes find a "?" here. (If you know what the place of birth is, please let us know)

Reference data
  • TNA Ref: This includes the TNA class (eg RG10 for the 1871 census), and the piece number, which identifies the microfilm roll containing the images of the original census returns.
  • Image No: This is the sequential image on the microfilm roll.
  • Folio No: This is the number of the folio (or sheet) printed on the original recto pages. Not always present.
  • Page No: This if the page number printed or written on the original pages. The page and folio numbers can assist identification of the microfilm images.
  • Entry No: This is the sequential number of the census entry on a page. This index value was is simply to aid location of the actual entry on the original page, and does not exist on the original.
Data entry
All data entry from the census records is by IIM Inc ( The index data is copyright of IIM Inc. All rights reserved.

Census images
Census images are reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. The National Archives gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for purpose of the information provided. Images may be used for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. Infringement of the above may result in legal action.

See also:  Help searching England & Wales Census 1871
  Help Viewing Images & Maps
  Sample return