The 1871 United Kingdom Census included enumerations for England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel islands. The 1871 England census contains information about a household’s occupants including birthplaces, occupations, and health.
The 1871 United Kingdom Census Records Today
The 1871 census for England was taken on the night of 2 April 1871. Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a few days before the census night and the household members were required to complete the forms themselves. The next day, the enumerators collected the completed forms. All of the details from the individual forms were later sorted and copied into enumerators’ books.
The information requested on the census included:
- Address (name of the street, avenue, or road; house number)
- Occupant (name of each person who spent the night in the house; their birthplace and relationship to head of family)
- Residence (whether home was inhabited; number of rooms occupied)
- Personal (sex, age, marital status)
- Occupation (whether employer, employee, or neither)
- Health (whether blind, deaf, dumb, imbecile, idiot, or lunatic)
View a sample UK census image
The 1871 United Kingdom Census Records Today
The original census schedules that were completed by household members were destroyed. However, the enumerators’ books were kept and in 1970 the records were microfilmed. The microfilm copies of the books for England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel islands are available at the Family Records Centre in London.
- The clerks who compiled and reviewed the census data made a variety of marks on the records. Unfortunately, many of these tally marks were written over personal information and some fields, such as ages, can be difficult to read. On the other hand, some of these marks can be useful because they designate separate households. In a small parish, a double slash (//) might indicate a new household and a single slash (/) might indicate a non-related person living in the house (such as a servant or lodger). In larger parishes, a double slash (//) might indicate separate buildings and a single slash (/) might indicate separate households within the same building.
- The census records were grouped by county and then subdivided by civil parish groups. Many times, but not always, the civil parish name is the same name as the local ecclesiastical parish. Because boundaries change over time, your ancestor may be recorded in an unexpected parish. It is important to search the parishes surrounding the area where you believe that your ancestors lived.
- If the head of the household was illiterate, or had trouble completing the enumeration form, the enumerator (census taker) would complete as much information as possible.
- You can view a description of each enumeration district as it was written by the enumerator.
What do the abbreviations in the 1871 census mean?
Abbreviations were used as shown:
- WI = wife
- DA = daughter
- GD = granddaughter
- GS = grandson
- HD = head
- Lgr = lodger
- M = married
- U = unmarried
- NP = nephew
- NC = niece
- SCH = scholar
- Sis = sister
- SO = son
- SV or Ser = servant
- SL or SOLW = son-in-law (this could mean stepson, or something different than the modern day usage)
- AG LAB = agricultural laborer
- FRMR = farmer
This abbreviation information was taken from this website:
Sennen On Line Parish Clerk
Why is some of the information crossed out on the original census page?
Errors were sometimes crossed out by an enumerator, or information was sometimes crossed out by a Registrar or Superintendent Registrar if he thought that the enumerator had completed the relevant item incorrectly. In some cases, the marks are actually tally marks because information such as occupation was used for statistical purposes.
For more 1871 census search tips, see this article:
First Look at the 1871 Census by Sherry Irvine, CGRS, FSA (Scot)
To read how one person used the 1871 census listings to research their family, see this article:
England and Wales: Getting More from Online Censuses by Sherry Irvine, CGRS, FSA (Scot)
For general information on the 1871 census and interesting cultural information about the time period, see this website:
The UK 1871 Census
Ancestry.co.uk. 1871 England Census [database online]. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2005. Indexed by MyFamily.com, Inc. from microfilmed schedules of the England 1871 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.