England & Wales 1861 Census
The England & Wales Census of 1861 was taken on the night of 7 April 1861 and was the third census of England and Wales. For each household member, the census recorded name, gender, age at last birthday, relationship to the head of the family, marital status, occupation, place of birth and place of residence.
What can you find in the census?
Census returns can help you determine who your ancestors were, and can also tell you:
- 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 you the above information, the fact that census returns are taken every ten years also allows you to track the movements of your ancestors through time as they perhaps move house, get married, have children or even change occupations.
The fields which have been transcribed for the census are:
- First name
- Middle name
- Last name
- Birth place
- Place of residence
- Relationship to head of household
Why this collection is so valuable
Census records are valuable since they can tell you where a person lived at a certain place and time. Censuses were conducted by the federal government and will offer a variety of information, depending on year. Census records can answer questions like where your ancestors were living at the time the census was taken, who they were living with, what their occupations were, who their neighbors were, if they had any brothers and sisters, what their ages were at the time of the census and if they had any disabilities.
Searching the census
The golden rule of family history is to check the original historical record, or 'primary source', wherever possible. We have provided clear images of the original census enumeration books for you to view once you've found the right family in the indexes. When using census returns you should first search the transcriptions to help locate your ancestor in the census, and then view the original images to validate your findings. It will also help you see the household in the context of surrounding households. This is particularly important as transcribing an entire census is a huge and difficult task, and whilst we have used the expertise of our transcribers and the experience of key representatives from the genealogy community to help us translate the records, it is inevitable that there will be some errors.
With the information you gain from these census records, you will have the information you need to search for vital records in the locality where you found your ancestor. Also, the fact that census returns are taken every ten years also allows you to track the movements of our ancestors through time as they perhaps move house, get married, have children or even change occupations.