first ever national census in England and Wales was taken in 1801
but it wasn't until 1841 that the individual names of people living
at addresses were entered and so it is this census which is the
first of interest to genealogists. A
census has - with the exception of 1941 - been taken every decade
Due to privacy laws the census can only be made available to the
public 100 years after it was taken. The most recent census open
to scrutiny is now the 1911
census which became available in January 2009, three years earlier
than originally scheduled. Some pieces of more personal data are
being held back until 2012.
Archives have made the censuses from 1841
through until 1911
they can now be accessed for a fee from their website.
In addition a
free transcription of the 1881
census can also be seen on the internet at the International
Genealogical Index website.
The local record office for each county
hold each census for their particular area and local libraries may
also hold copies for their area.
As with all transcriptions the original source should always be
checked for accuracy. The original itself is prone to mistakes as
often information was entered wrongly or incompletely by the compilers
or the people themselves gave false information.
Otherwise the census is a rich resource for genealogists listing
all occupants living at an address, their occupations and their
relationship to one another. Exact ages and places of birth (except
in 1841) are also given enabling a search of the baptism/birth records
for a specific location and year.