The first national Census in Britain was in 1841, but there are several local enumerations of populations of particular parishes and towns, for example:

In the answers to that earlier question, two books/monographs were mentioned

Neither of these is available online in complete form, though there is a preview of the latter that provides some interesting methodological information about the 1841 Census and its precursors.

But is there a comprehensive source of these records available online, which researchers outside the UK can use? It is worth noting that even though these earlier censuses did not always name everyone in a household, they can still be useful for genealogical purposes, allowing one to establish, for example:

  • How many households or households of a particular name there were in a particular location, and therefore how likely there are to be multiple people of the same name in that location at that time. (Is that Mary Thing daughter of John Thing the same Mary Thing that is my ancestor? Or was Thing a common name in Whatsitham?)

  • Number of people per household can help establish of there are any children in that household that you've missed.

  • 1
    I had intended that this would be a self-answered question, but in any case, I want to encourage people to add links to other specific censuses to the question.
    – Verbeia
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 13:21
  • genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/2833/… may have some useful information
    – TomH
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 13:35
  • 2
    "The latter, at least is available online" - I only see a preview, missing page 10 onwards. (Entirely logical it should be only a preview if it's still in copyright). That's what I see - "your mileage may vary" - I have long since given up trying to understand how and why Google Books decide what to show how, where.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 14:34
  • @AdrianB38 - my bad! I didn't scroll down far enough before posting to realise this. I will edit the question.
    – Verbeia
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 1:42
  • @TomH - I did actually link to that in the question, but to one of the answers rather than the question itself. I'll fix the link if that is confusing to people.
    – Verbeia
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 1:43

3 Answers 3


Pre-1841 census survivors are generally neither indexed nor transcribed - probably either on-line or in paper. Not even those items associated with the 1801-1831 censuses as, while the "sponsor" of those censuses was the state, the lists of names were, as I understand it, not required by the state so their survival is down to happy, local accidents.

As such, the surviving material is generally scattered across the local County Record Offices, in various formats, and if it's got on-line it's usually because of the local volunteers at the RO. Drawing it all together would be a huge undertaking.

Example: The Dundee 1801 Census has been transcribed by the Friends of Dundee City Archives as part of a series of various Dundee documents produced by them.

The result of all this, is that there is no comprehensive repository, physical or on-line, that contains indexes or transcripts of the pre-1841 censuses.


Although there is not as yet a comprehensive list of available pre-1841 Census material, it may be possible to construct one. Please feel free to add what you know.


A Vision of Britain has a range of aggregate population statistics drawn from Census returns, including the pre-1841 Censuses. It is often possible to see a chart of population over time for quite small areas, which might help establish if there were likely to be multiple people of the same name in the district.

Censusfinder has mainly links to 1841 and later Censuses, but has some miscellaneous pre-1841 material for some districts.

Genuki has a range of pre-1841 Census resources, including:

Via the FamilySearch wiki, it turns out that there is a working paper from the University of Essex Department of History available online: Richard Wall, Matthew Woollard and Beatrice (2004), “Census schedules and Listings, 1801-1831: an introduction and guide”. This gives a fairly comprehensive account of which documents survive from the 1801 through 1831 Censuses, but does not have any information about pre-1800 local enumerations, nor does it include any actual data or whether any of the information has been transcribed and published online. In this respect it would substitute quite well for the book by Chapman, which is not easily available to purchase any more, it seems.

Other sources for pre-1841 transcriptions include:

  • Calverley.info for various parishes in the Calverley area in West Yorkshire


Northern Ireland

There is a transcription of the 1831 Census for Dunboe parish, Londonderry on Rootsweb. This appears to be the efforts of a private individual.

Isle of Man

The enumeration records for the 1821 and 1831 Censuses of the Isle of Man were destroyed, but summary information on population by parish is available at the Manx Notebook site, including for some earlier dates.


The FamilyHistory.co.uk website has published a page dedicated to the surviving Pre 1841 Census Records. In particular the surviving English Census Listings of 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 are included and broken down into the counties of England and individual parishes where records have survived.

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