What Is The Census

Since 1801 Britain has held a national census every ten years, although no official census was undertaken in 1941 due to World War II, instead the information of National Registration Act of 1939 was used to provide a general population figure. The initial aim of the first censuses was to inform the Government about the changing population figure and briefly describe the various habits the population held at that time. Although the earlier census was very simple and largely used for statistical purposes, the censuses from 1841 began to describe in more detail the lives of the British people, listing all of the people living within one home and the personal details of their lives.

The information provided in the census records is invaluable in helping you create an in depth family tree. Some of the most useful information available from reading the census is:

• Their address. The first piece of information available from the census is an address of a relative; you are then able to discover where your relatives lived and how long your family has lived within a particular area. The address will also reveal the names of other relatives living within that address.

• Marriage. Whether a relative was married, this will then provide you with another branch of your family tree.

• Children. Whether your relative had children, this will help you discover the different generations of your relatives.

• Their occupation. You will be able to discover how your family earned a living in the past, often the census reveals a lot of family traditions for example business set up several generations could still be run by the same family today.

Until recently many of these records have been kept locked away from public view, however, today census information is available to the general public both online and in local libraries. Unfortunately, very few records from 1801 to 1831 censuses still exist today and the records of the 1931 census of England and Wales were destroyed in a fire in 1942.