Census data can be a great way for all of us to find out more about our ancestors. Since the 1841 census, which was the first to list the names of every individual, the data has been a useful tool family historians, eager to trace their ancestry. The reports have been taken in England and Wales, and separately for Scotland, every ten years since then, except for in 1941, making it an invaluable source of information for the changing landscape of Britain.
The census will be of particular interest this year as it will give the Government a unique insight into the way the coronavirus pandemic has affected people’s lives.
The survey will ask questions on people’s employment status and where they are living, which will then help shape public policy and the provision of services.
It is important to note that you must complete the census by law or you could be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to do so.
The deadline for the 2021 census is today, March 21, although the website states you should complete the form “as soon as possible” following this date.
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The 1921 Census should have been taken on April 24, 1921, but was delayed by nearly two months – the only time that the census date was changed.
This was due to the Black Friday strike by railwaymen, coal miners and transport workers, which raged on for months before the census was finally taken on June 19, 1921.
The 1921 census is of particular interest for budding historians or those tracking their family tree, as it will give greater detail than any previous census.
For the first time, the survey asked what materials they worked in, place of work and their employer’s name.
The census also will have documented whether they were in full-time or part-time education and marital status, including if divorced, and will have recorded whether both parents were alive or if either or both parents had died.
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The census has been recorded every 10 years since the first was conducted in 1801.
However, there are two surveys missing from the national records.
The 1931 census data was completely destroyed in a fire in Hayes, west London, where the census was being stored.
While the 1941 UK census was not taken due to World War Two.
The censuses from 1841 to 1911 are available online from the National Archives official partner websites, Ancestry and Findmypast.
The dates of the censuses were as follows:
- 1841 – June 6
- 1851 – March 30
- 1861 – April 7
- 1871 – April 2
- 1881 – April 3
- 1891 – April 5
- 1901 – March 31
- 1911 – April 2
It is free to search but there is a charge to view full results.
You can view all the data free of charge on site at The National Archives in Kew, although this service is currently unavailable due to the coronavirus outbreak.