1861 Census records and


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Please choose a county:
Bedfordshire Herefordshire Royal Navy
Berkshire Hertfordshire Rutland
Buckinghamshire Huntingdonshire Shropshire
Cambridgeshire Kent Somerset
Cheshire Lancashire Staffordshire
Cornwall Leicestershire Suffolk
Cumberland Lincolnshire Surrey
Derbyshire London Sussex
Devon Middlesex Warwickshire
Dorset Norfolk Westmorland
Durham Northamptonshire Wiltshire
Essex Northumberland Worcestershire
Gloucestershire Nottinghamshire Yorkshire
Hampshire Oxfordshire


The 1861 Census for England was taken on the night of 7 April 1861. The following information was requested:

  • Name of road, street, etc
  • House number or name
  • Whether or not the house was inhabited
  • Name of each person that had spent the night in that household
  • Relationship of person enumerated to the head of the family
  • Person's marital status
  • Age at last birthday (sex is indicated by which column the age is recorded in)
  • Person's occupation
  • Person's place of birth
  • Whether blind, deaf, or idiot.

Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a couple of days before census night and the complete forms were collected the next day. All responses were to reflect the individual's status as of 7 April 1861 for all individuals who had spent the night in the house. People who were traveling or living abroad were enumerated at the location where they spent the night on census night. All of the details from the individual forms were later sorted and copied into enumerators' books, which are the records we can view images of today. The original householders schedules from 1841 to 1901 were destroyed.

The clerks who compiled and reviewed the census data made a variety of marks on the returns. Unfortunately, many of these tally marks were written over personal information and some fields, such as ages, can be difficult to read as a result. More useful marks include a single slash between households within a building and a double slash separating households in separate buildings.

Extended Description:

How the census forms are organized:

Census returns were collected according to registration district. These returns were divided into sub-districts and assigned consecutive piece numbers for reference purposes. The piece numbers begin in London with number one and work roughly south to north, followed by the Welsh districts and then the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. You will find the piece number on a paper strip at the bottom of every image, following the PRO class number. There may be hundreds of pieces within a county.

In addition to the piece number, each page of the returns includes a folio number and/or a page number. The folio number was stamped onto every other page before microfilming and is located in the upper right hand corner of the image. Folio numbering usually starts over at the beginning of each piece. The page number is part of the printed form and is found on every page in the upper right hand corner. The page numbers start over at the beginning of every enumeration district. A full reference number for a record in the 1861 census includes the PRO class number (RG9), the piece number, the folio number, and the page number. Keep in mind that you may have to look at several enumeration districts to find the page you want within a given folio since the page numbers start over with every ED.

Known problems with 1861 piece numbers:

  • Pieces from RG9 where all parishes are missing (we do not have ANY records for these pieces):

    145 407 903 1234 4015 4131 4196 4344
    219 601 1039 3388 4022 4137 4291 4389

  • Pieces from RG9 where one or more parishes are missing (we have SOME records for these pieces):

    217 690 2211 3913 4027 4143 4173 4211 4265 4295 4330
    220 758 2247 3984 4041 4146 4174 4225 4266 4298
    229 837 2365 3991 4077 4149 4178 4228 4270 4299
    473 863 2625 4010 4078 4154 4184 4231 4272 4301
    485 952 3278 4013 4079 4161 4185 4256 4274 4304
    499 1047 3652 4014 4132 4163 4187 4261 4276 4309
    541 1194 3735 4024 4133 4164 4190 4262 4280 4314
    565 1984 3855 4025 4138 4165 4202 4263 4290 4319

  • Piece number "98" was not used.

Connecting piece numbers and localities:

To identify which parishes or townships are included in a piece, please use The National Archives online catalogue. Search the catalogue by entering the series code and the piece number, e.g. RG 9/217, in the box in the upper left that says "Type reference here."

Alternatively, you can search the catalogue vice-versa (identify which piece number a particular parish or township is part of) by putting a place name in the "Word or phrase" field and "RG 9" in the "Department or Series code" field.

Some of the above information was taken from "Chapter 6: Census Returns," Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History by Mark D. Herber (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1998) and Using Census Returns, Pocket Guides to Family History by David Annal (Richmond, Surrey: Public Record Office, 2002).

        Given Name(s) Last Name

Source Information: 1861 England Census [database online]. Provo, Utah:, Inc., 2005. Indexed by, Inc. from microfilmed schedules of the 1861 England Census. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England. The National Archives gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only 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 condition may result in legal action.


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