What information does the 1881 census contain?

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08 March 2021
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Find your UK ancestor on the 1881 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 1881 census

The 1881 census was taken on 3 April 1881 and in most respects, repeated the questions that had been asked in the 1871 census, with the 1871 schooling question removed for Scotland and replaced with a questions about whether a person was a Gaelic speaker and whether the dwelling had a door opening onto a common stair. 

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What information does the UK 1881 census contain?

  • First name
  • Surname
  • Age 
  • Sex 
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Rank/profession/occupation (with 'unemployed' added, Scotland only)
  • 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)
  • Whether Gaelic speaker (Scotland only)
  • Whether living in a dwelling with a door that opened onto a common stairway
  • How many rooms with 1 or more windows (Scotland only)
  • Whether blind/deaf & dumb/ imbeclie/idiot, lunatic (England and Wales) imbecile, idiot, lunatic (Scotland)

The population for England & Wales at this census was recorded as 25,974,439, Scotland: 3,735,573. 

No full 1881 census survives for Ireland but you can search the existing records at National Archives Ireland.

QUICK LINK: How to use the census for find your ancestors on the 1841-1921 censuses