03 March 2021
Find your UK ancestor on the 1851 census with our guide to the dates the census was taken and what information it contains.
The census is an essential building block for your family tree, allowing you to see a snapshot of your ancestor and their family members at ten-yearly intervals.
The census returns of 1841-1911 for England, Wales and Scotland are available online and can give you a unique insight into your ancestors’ lives every 10 years. You can read more about how and where to search the census in our UK census guide.
The 1851 census
The 1851 census was taken on 30 March 1851 and was the first UK-wide census to wide town or parish of birth rather than simply the country of origin. This census is also extremely useful to family historians since it records marital status and relationship to head of household - questions that were not asked on the previous 1841 census.
The population for England & Wales at this census was recorded as 17,922,768, Scotland: 2,888,742. This census also recorded information about churches and their congregations.
What information does the UK 1851 census contain?
- First name
- Relationship to head of household
- Marital status
- Whether born in county where enumerated, plus county and parish for England & Wales
- Whether born in Scotland, Ireland or 'foreign parts' (England, Wales & Channel islands), or born in Scotland, England, Ireland or 'foreign parts' (Scotland)
- Whether blind, deaf or dumb (Scotland only)
No full 1851 census survives for Ireland but you can search the existing records at National Archives Ireland.