The UK Census was taken every 10 years from 1801, except in the war year of 1941. Only those from 1841 to 1911 are generally available.
The 1801 census asked local officials to provide information on the number of inhabited and uninhabited houses in the parish and how many families occupied them; the number of people in the parish and their employment; and numbers of baptisms, burials and marriages in the previous 100 years. A similar format was followed for the censuses of 1811, 1821 and 1831, with the addition of further questions.
Most of the early returns for 1801-1831 were destroyed, only statistical summaries being published. Those few returns that survive are now usually in the local County Record Office. The returns usually only name the householder and list the number of people in the house, although occasionally the whole population is listed.
A comprehensive guide to available pre-1841 returns has been published in Wall, R., Woollard, M. and Moring, B, 'Census schedules and listings, 1801-1831: an introduction and guide', Research Tools, No 2 (Colchester, University of Essex, Department of History. 2nd edition published December 2012)
Taken 10th March 1801
Taken 27th May 1811
In 1811, the enumerators were asked to give more information about the reasons houses were unoccupied, so that the prosperity of the district could be more accurately gauged.
Taken 28th May 1821
In 1821 a question relating to age was asked, in order to assess numbers of men able to bear arms, and to improve the tables on which life assurance was based.
Taken 30th May 1831
More detailed questions on occupations from 1831 provided the government with economic information.
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