Search for your ancestors amongst the 23 million people who were living in England, Wales and Scotland on April 7th, 1861, and discover a detailed snapshot of their life at the time - their age, occupation, where they lived, who they lived with, their marital status and many more details about their lives and relationships.
Each record is a transcript and an image of the relevant entry.
The amount of information listed varies, but the 1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
Place of residence
Relationship to head of household
The 1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census was taken on the night of 7 April 1861 and gave the total population as 23,085,579.
If you inexplicably can’t find a male ancestor, who’s over the age of 14 and who you know should be in the census, then the best place to start looking is the 1861 World Wide Army Index. An incredibly valuable census substitute, this resource gives the names of 245,000 serving soldiers, not just those who were posted in Britain but also those who found themselves in the further reaches of Queen Victoria’s Empire. Many of the men who don’t show up in the census would have been away when it was being taken because they were serving in the army or navy.
However the census does include details of people resident in docked vessels and institutions such as prisons, workhouses, hospitals, and barracks.
Census returns don't only help us determine who our ancestors were, they can also help to open new lines of enquiry as to details of their own lives and those around them, by giving us all or some of the following information:
Where your ancestors were living
Who they were living with
What their occupations were
If they had any servants
Who their neighbours were
If they had any brothers and sisters
What their ages were at the time of the census
If they had any disabilities.
As well as giving us the above information, the fact that census returns are taken every ten years also allows us to track the movements of our ancestors through time as they perhaps move house, get married, have children or even change occupations.
There are a number of enumeration books missing, or parts of enumeration books (usually missing start or finish), from the 1861 England, Wales & Scotland Census. For a full list of the missing pieces read our Census for England, Wales and Scotland: missing pieces available in the Useful Links and Resources section.