This database will detail those persons enumerated in the 1861 Census of England and is an every-name index. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to the actual images of the 1861 Census, reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England.
The 1861 Census for England was taken on the night of 7 April 1861. All responses were to reflect the individual's status as of 7 April 1861 for all individuals who had spent the night in the house. People who were traveling or living abroad were enumerated at the location where they spent the night on census night.
Information in this database:
- Name of street, avenue, road, etc.
- House name or number
- Whether property vacant or inhabited
- Surname of head of household
- Name of persons who had spent the night in the household
- Relationship of enumerated person to head of house
- Person’s marital status
- Age at last birthday (gender indicated by column in which age is recorded)
- Person’s occupation
- Person’s place of birth
- Whether blind, deaf, or idiot
The English government took its first national census in 1801. A census has been taken every ten years since that date except in 1941 though the first genealogically useful census was not taken until 1841, when names were recorded. Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a couple of days before census night and the completed forms were collected the next day. If the head of the house was illiterate or had any problems completing the form the enumerator would assist as much as necessary. All of the details from the individual forms were later sorted and copied into enumerators' books, which are the records we can view images of today. The original householders’ schedules from 1841 to 1901 were destroyed.
Census returns were collected according to registration district. These returns were divided into sub- districts and assigned consecutive piece numbers for reference purposes. The piece numbers begin in London with number one and work roughly south to north, followed by the Welsh districts and then the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. You will find the piece number on a paper strip at the bottom of every image, following the PRO class number. There may be hundreds of pieces within a county.
In addition to the piece number, each page of the returns includes a folio number and/or a page number. The folio number was stamped onto every other page before microfilming and is located in the upper right hand corner of the image. Folio numbering usually starts over at the beginning of each piece. The page number is part of the printed form and is found on every page in the upper right hand corner; they also start over at the beginning of every enumeration district. A full reference number for a record in the 1861 census includes the PRO class number (RG9), the piece number, the folio number, and the page number. Keep in mind that you may have to look at several enumeration districts to find the page you want within a given folio since the page numbers start over with every ED.
The clerks who compiled and reviewed the census data made a variety of marks on the returns. Unfortunately, many of these tally marks were written over personal information and some fields, such as ages, can be difficult to read as a result. More useful marks include a single slash between households within a building and a double slash separating households in separate buildings.
Known problems with 1861 piece numbers:
- Pieces from RG9 where all parishes are missing (we do not have ANY records for these pieces): 145, 219, 407, 601, 903, 1039, 1234, 3388, 4015, 4022, 4131, 4137, 4196, 4291, 4344, 4389
- Pieces from RG9 where one or more parishes are missing (we have SOME records for these pieces): 217, 220, 229, 473, 485, 499, 541, 565, 690, 758, 837, 863, 952, 1047, 1194, 1724, 1984, 2211, 2247, 2365, 2625, 3278, 3652, 3735, 3855, 3913, 3984, 3991, 4010, 4013-4014, 4024-4025, 4027, 4041, 4077-4079, 4132-4133, 4138, 4143, 4146, 4149, 4154, 4161, 4163-4165, 4173-4174, 4178, 4184-4185, 4187, 4190, 4202, 4211, 4225, 4228, 4231, 4256, 4261- 4263, 4265-4266, 4270, 4272, 4274, 4276, 4280, 4290, 4295, 4298-4299, 4301, 4304, 4309, 4314, 4319, 4330
- Piece number "98" was not used.
Connecting piece numbers and localities:
To identify which parishes or townships are included in a piece, please use The National Archives online catalogue. Search the catalogue by entering the series code and the piece number, e.g. RG 9/217, in the box in the upper left that says "Type reference here."
Alternatively, you can search the catalogue vice-versa (identify which piece number a particular parish or township is part of) by putting a place name in the "Word or phrase" field and "RG 9" in the "Department or Series code" field.
Some of the above information was taken from "Chapter 6: Census Returns," Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History by Mark D. Herber (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1998) and Using Census Returns, Pocket Guides to Family History by David Annal (Richmond, Surrey: Public Record Office, 2002).