The 1881 Census

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The 1881 Census

The 1881 Census was taken on the night of Sunday 3rd April 1881.

Basic facts about the 1881 census

Taken on the night of Sunday/Monday 3rd/4th April 1881.

Details recorded for each person were:

  • Name and surname
  • Relationship to head of family
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Occupation
  • Place of birth
  • Whether infirm

The following information was recorded in the schedules about each dwelling and person residing there on the night of the census:

  • the address
  • whether the dwelling was "inhabited" or "uninhabited or building"
  • name and surname of each person residing at the dwelling on the night of the census
  • relationship of each person to the head of the family
  • each person's marital status ("condition as to marriage")
  • age last birthday and sex
  • rank, profession, or occupation
  • where born, parish and county (or if born outside of England or Wales, just the country)
  • whether they were "blind", or "deaf and dumb" or "imbecile or idiot" or "lunatic"

The information collected was the same as in 1871.

Accessing the 1881 Census

The 1881 census for England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man was fully transcribed in the 1980s by an army of volunteers and published by the Church of Latter Day Saints - LDS. Initially it was widely available on fiche or as a set of CDs sold at cost price but the transcription can now also be viewed (but minus the Scottish records) for free online at the LDS Family Search site.

The same transcriptions can also be searched for free at Ancestry. They have also linked it to scans of the original census index pages but these are only available to subscribers. A 14 day free trial is usually available.

Findmypast also has a complete transcription of the 1881 census for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which can be viewed for free (although you do need to register with them). They also have a complete transcription of the 1881 census for Scotland, accessed either via an annual subscription or on a pay-per-view basis or currently you can take advantage of a 14 day free trial.

The Genealogist site has transcripts for a number of counties including London and Lancashire. They include linked images so the original pages can be seen and can either be viewed by taking out a subscription or as pay-per-view.

FreeCEN have 100% coverage of Caithness and Cornwall but with the availability of the LDS free site, they have concentrated on other years.

We always welcome any comments, suggestions or corrections - you can contact us at the feedback email address on the left