The 1821 Census

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The 1821 Census

The third census of Great Britain (that is England, Scotland and Wales) was taken on Monday 28th May 1821. The returns gave a population of 14.4 million people, an increase of 1.8 million over 1811.

Basic facts about the 1821 census

Taken on 28th May 1821.

Details recorded for each parish, township, or place were:

  • Number of inhabited houses, occupied by how many families
  • Number of houses being built
  • Number of uninhabited houses
  • How many persons, how many male, how many female
  • How many households are chiefly employed in agriculture; how many in trade, manufactures, or handicraft; and how many in neither
  • The number of persons broken down into age ranges, male and female

Details of individuals and their names were not recorded in the official Census returns.

This census was the first to try and measure the age range of the population in age range bands of 5 years up to 20 years, otherwise in 10 year bands. Approximately 50% of the population was under 20 (in contrast to about 25% today)

The instructions to the enumerators on gathering this age range information was very carefully phrased ... "if you are of Opinion ... the Ages of the several Individuals can be obtained in a Manner satisfactory to yourself, and not inconvenient to the Parties".

The act laid down "QUESTIONS addressed to the OVERSEERS in England; and to the SCHOOLMASTERS in Scotland; Who are respectively required to take an Account of the Resident Population, by proceeding from House to House on the Twenty-eighth Day of May One thousand eight hundred and twenty-one, and on the Days immediately subsequent thereto, if one Day shall not be sufficient; ...."

They were asked to obtain the following information for the Parish, Township, or Place:

1st -HOW many Inhabited Houses are there in your Parish, Township, or Place; and by how many Families are they occupied-

2d -HOW many Houses are now building, and therefore not yet inhabited-

3d HOW many other Houses are Inhabited-

4th -WHAT Number of Families in your Parish, Township, or Place, are chiefly employed in and maintained by Agriculture, or by Trade, Manufacture, or handicraft; and how many Families are ot comprized in either of the Two preceding Classes- N. B.-The total Number of Families in Answer to this Question, must correspond with the Number of Families in Answer to the 1st Question; and if any Doubts shall arise as to the Class in which any Family or Families ought to be comprized, such Doubt it is to be stated as a Remark (under Question 7th,) not omitting therein to specify in which Class such Family or Families may have been comprized in your Answer to the 4th Question.

5th -HOW many Persons (including Children of whatever Age) are there actually found within the Limits of your Parish, Township, or Place, at the Time of taking this Account, distinguishing Males and Females, and exclusive of Men actually serving in His Majesty's Regular Forces, in the old Militia, or in any embodied Local Militia, and exclusive of Seamen either" in His Majesty's Service, or belonging to Registered Vessels-

6th -REFERRING to the Number of Persons in one thousand eight hundred and eleven; To what cause do you attribute any remarkable Difference in the Number at present-

7th -IF you are of Opinion that in making the preceding Enquiries (or at any Time before returning this Schedule,) the Ages of the several Individuals can be obtained in a Manner satisfactory to yourself, and not inconvenient to the Parties, be pleased to state (or cause to be stated) the Number of those who are under 5 Years of Age, of those between 5 and 10 Years of Age, between 10 and 15, between 15 and 20, between 20 and 30, between 30 and 40, between 40 and 50, between 50 and 60, between 60 and 70, between 70 and 80, between 80 and 90, between 90 and 100, and 160, and upwards of 100, distinguishing Males from Females;-

And are there any other Matters which you may think it necessary to remark in Explanation of your Answer to this or any of the preceding Questions;-And in what Manner and to what Place of Residence and Post Office Town are Letters intended for you usually directed-

Accessing the 1821 Census

The results for each area had to be returned on a form attached to the schedule of the act, in other words just the numbers for each of the questions. It was left to those compiling the information as to how they did so and some drew up lists of names from which they produced the numbers required. In some areas printers produced printed forms for this purpose and in London and elsewhere printed schedules were left for householders to fill in themselves.

In some places, the 1821 census is descibed as "no longer exists" or "has been destroyed" but this is a misconception. The official census was simply a count under various headings for each parish, township, or place so in terms of information on individuals or households, it never did exist.

It is the "unofficial" documents produced by those doing the count that have survived in certain areas and can been found in local authority libraries and archives. Some have also been transcribed by local Family History societies.

A comprehensive guide to available pre-1841 returns has been published by Richard Wall, Matthew Woollard and Beatrice Moring of Essex University.

This guide estimates that 231 lists detailing households, 32 lists detailing individuals plus 8 others for 1821 have survived. The household lists typically included the name of the head of the household but not any of the members of that household.

But remember, the chance of finding one of your ancestor's names in the lists that have survived for the 1821 census is about one in five hundred.

Some of the areas listed in the guide where records are known to exist detailing individuals for the 1821 census include:

  • Berkshire - Hungerford
  • Cheshire - Nether Alderley
  • Cheshire - Rostherne (aka Rosthern)
  • Cornwall - Boyton
  • Cornwall - Veryan
  • Derbyshire - Mackworth
  • Derbyshire - Mickleover
  • Devon - Clyst, St. George (aka Clist, St. George)
  • Dorset - Corfe Castle
  • Dorset - Horton
  • Dorset - Thornford
  • Dorset - Woodlands
  • Essex - Braintree
  • Gloucestershire - Barnsley
  • Hampshire - East Tisted
  • Hampshire - Winchester, St. Bartholomew
  • Hertfordshire - Digswell
  • Norfolk - Sparham
  • Norfolk - Winfarthing
  • Shropshire - Longnor
  • Shropshire - Wellington
  • Somerset - Gasper
  • Suffolk - Westley
  • Sussex - Chiddingley
  • Sussex - East Hoathly (aka Easthothly)
  • Sussex - Tangmere
  • Warwickshire - Rugby
  • Warwickshire - Strickenhill
  • Warwickshire - Stivichall (aka Stivieshall)
  • Warwickshire - Tamworth (in Arden)
  • Wiltshire - Stourton

Some of the areas listed in the guide where records are known to exist detailing households for the 1821 census include:

  • Bedfordshire - Bedford, St. Peter
  • Bedfordshire - Blunham
  • Bedfordshire - Haynes
  • Berkshire - Brightwalton (aka Bright-Waltham)
  • Berkshire - Caversham
  • Berkshire - Earley (Sonning) aka (Sonning Early)
  • Berkshire - East Hendred
  • Buckinghamshire - Chenies
  • Buckinghamshire - Chesham
  • Buckinghamshire - Iver
  • Buckinghamshire - Olney
  • Buckinghamshire - Princes Risborough
  • Cambridgeshire - Cambridge, St. Benedict
  • Cambridgeshire - Cambridge, St. Edward
  • Cambridgeshire - Downham
  • Cambridgeshire - Duxford
  • Cornwall - Bodmin
  • Cumberland - Holme Cultram
  • Cumberland - Newton Reigny (aka Newton Rigny)
  • Cumberland - Skelton
  • Derbyshire - Chesterfield
  • Derbyshire - Crich
  • Derbyshire - Doveridge
  • Derbyshire - Eckington
  • Derbyshire - Ockbrook
  • Derbyshire - South Normanton
  • Derbyshire - Stanton by Bridge
  • Derbyshire - Ticknall
  • Devon - Axminster
  • Devon - Bickleigh
  • Devon - Cheriton Bishop
  • Devon - Dean Prior
  • Devon - Exeter Holy Trinity
  • Devon - Fremington
  • Devon - Morthoe
  • Devon - Rewe
  • Dorset - Broadwinsor
  • Dorset - Compton Abbas
  • Dorset - Litton Cheney
  • Dorset - Marnhull
  • Dorset - Shaftesbury [St. James]
  • Dorset - Winterbourne Whitechurch (aka Winterborne-Whitechurch)
  • Durham - Durham, St. Oswald
  • Essex - Ardleigh
  • Essex - Beaumont cum Moze (aka Beaumont-with-Moze)
  • Essex - Colchester, St. Leonard
  • Essex - Debden
  • Essex - Finchingfield
  • Essex - Horndon-on-the-Hill
  • Essex - Leyton (aka Leyton, Low)
  • Essex - Little Baddow
  • Essex - Mistley
  • Essex - Mundon
  • Essex - Tilbury juxta Clare
  • Essex - Tolleshunt Major
  • Essex - Walthamstow
  • Essex - Wanstead
  • Essex - Woodham Walter
  • Essex - Writtle
  • Gloucestershire - Aust
  • Gloucestershire - Bisley
  • Gloucestershire - Bitton
  • Gloucestershire - Bristol, St. Augustine the Less
  • Gloucestershire - Great Badminton
  • Gloucestershire - Mickelton
  • Gloucestershire - Stratton
  • Gloucestershire - Stroud
  • Gloucestershire - Woolaston (aka Woolastone)
  • Hampshire - Fawley
  • Hampshire - Fordingbridge
  • Hampshire - Headley
  • Hampshire - Newchurch
  • Hampshire - Ryde
  • Hampshire - Wherwell
  • Hampshire - Winchester, St. Peter Chesil (aka St. Peter Cheesehill)
  • Hertfordshire - Hitchen
  • Huntingdonshire - Alwalton
  • Huntingdonshire - Bluntisham
  • Huntingdonshire - Godmanchester
  • Kent - Beckenham
  • Kent - Deal
  • Kent - Hayes
  • Kent - Penshurst
  • Kent - Rochester, St. Nicholas
  • Kent - Thanington
  • Lancashire - Broughton
  • Lancashire - Eccleston
  • Lancashire - Great Bolton
  • Leicestershire - Allexton
  • Leicestershire - Lutterworth
  • Leicestershire - Melton Mowbray
  • Leicestershire - Quorndon
  • Leicestershire - South Kilworth
  • Lincolnshire - Barnetby le Wold
  • Lincolnshire - Canwick
  • Lincolnshire - Fleet
  • Lincolnshire - Lincoln, St. Martin
  • Lincolnshire - Waddington (aka Waddingham)
  • Lincolnshire - Walcot by Folkingham
  • London - All Hallows, Lombard St.
  • London - St. Benet Paul's Wharf
  • London - St. Benet Sherehog
  • London - St. Helen Bishopsgate
  • London - St. Katherine Coleman
  • London - St. Margaret Lothbury
  • London - St. Mary Woolchurch Haw
  • London - St. Mary Woolnoth
  • London - St. Mary, Abchurch
  • London - St. Nicholas Acons
  • London - St. Peter, Cornhill
  • London - St. Sepulchre, Holborn
  • London - St. Swithin London Stone
  • London - St. Thomas Apostle
  • Middlesex - Hackney, St. John
  • Middlesex - Hammersmith
  • Middlesex - Hendon
  • Middlesex - Poplar All Saints
  • Middlesex - St. Mary le Strand
  • Middlesex - St. Marylebone
  • Middlesex - Willesden
  • Norfolk - Aylsham
  • Norfolk - Baconsthorpe
  • Norfolk - Bodham
  • Norfolk - Bradfield
  • Norfolk - Diss
  • Norfolk - Dunston
  • Norfolk - Haddiscoe
  • Norfolk - Old Buckenham
  • Norfolk - Ovington
  • Norfolk - Tuttington
  • Norfolk - West Harling
  • Norfolk - Wormegay
  • Northamptonshire - Braunston
  • Northamptonshire - Draughton
  • Northamptonshire - Eye
  • Northamptonshire - Mears Ashton (aka Mears-Ashby)
  • Northamptonshire - Staverton
  • Northamptonshire - Woodford by Thrapston
  • Northumberland - Newcastle, All Saints
  • Nottinghamshire - Gamston
  • Nottinghamshire - Hawton
  • Nottinghamshire - Kinoulton (aka Kinolton)
  • Nottinghamshire - Laxton
  • Nottinghamshire - Radford
  • Nottinghamshire - Systerton (aka Systerstone)
  • Nottinghamshire - Thorpe next Newark (aka Thorpe, Neward Hundred)
  • Oxfordshire - Begbroke (aka Begbrooke)
  • Oxfordshire - Bletchingdon
  • Oxfordshire - Britwell Salome
  • Oxfordshire - Caversham
  • Oxfordshire - Kiddington
  • Oxfordshire - North Newington
  • Oxfordshire - Stonesfield
  • Oxfordshire - Woolvercot
  • Shropshire - Ellesmere
  • Shropshire - Leighton
  • Shropshire - Shrewsbury, Holy Cross and St. Giles
  • Shropshire - Shrewsbury, St. Chad
  • Shropshire - Shrewsbury, St. Mary
  • Somerset - Goathurst
  • Somerset - Montacute
  • Somerset - Stowey
  • Somerset - Tintinhull
  • Somerset - Wedmore
  • Somerset - Wrington
  • Staffordshire - Walsall
  • Staffordshire - Wednesbury
  • Suffolk - Aldham
  • Suffolk - Glemsford
  • Suffolk - Ipswich St. Clement
  • Suffolk - Lowestoft
  • Suffolk - Pettistree (aka Petistree)
  • Suffolk - Playford
  • Suffolk - Southwold
  • Suffolk - Troston
  • Suffolk - Wetherden
  • Suffolk - Wickhambrook
  • Surrey - Clapham
  • Surrey - Mortlake
  • Surrey - Oxted (aka Oxtead)
  • Surrey - Southwark Christ Church
  • Surrey - Thursley
  • Sussex - East Grinstead
  • Sussex - Greatham
  • Sussex - Hailsham
  • Sussex - Hartfield
  • Sussex - Hastings, St. Mary
  • Sussex - Hurstpierpoint (aka Hurst-Perpoint)
  • Sussex - Ticehurst
  • Warwickshire - Austrey
  • Warwickshire - Barston
  • Warwickshire - Bedworth
  • Warwickshire - Coleshill
  • Warwickshire - Cubbington
  • Warwickshire - Farnborough
  • Warwickshire - Kineton (aka Kington)
  • Warwickshire - Sheldon
  • Warwickshire - Southam
  • Warwickshire - Warwick St. Mary
  • Wiltshire - Malmesbury
  • Wiltshire - Stratford sub Castle (aka Stratford-under-the-Castle)
  • Wiltshire - Steeple Ashton
  • Wiltshire - Sutton Veny
  • Wiltshire - Trowbridge
  • Worcestershire - Bewdley
  • Worcestershire - Bromsgrove
  • Worcestershire - Himbleton
  • Worcestershire - Kidderminster
  • Worcestershire - Ripple
  • Worcestershire - Worcester, St. John
  • Yorkshire - Beeford
  • Yorkshire - Boynton
  • Yorkshire - Dunnington
  • Yorkshire - Hedon
  • Yorkshire - Hilston
  • Yorkshire - Huntington
  • Yorkshire - Marfleet
  • Yorkshire - Ossett cum Gawthorpe
  • Yorkshire - Oswaldkirk (aka Oswald-Kirk)
  • Yorkshire - Sandal Magna (aka Great Sandall)
  • Yorkshire - Spofforth
  • Yorkshire - Stansfield
  • Yorkshire - Swinton
  • Yorkshire - Thirsk
  • Yorkshire - Thornhill
  • Yorkshire - Thurstonland
  • Yorkshire - Tong
  • Yorkshire - Warley
  • Yorkshire - West Heslerton
  • Yorkshire - Yarm
  • Yorkshire - Yeadon
  • Yorkshire - York, St. Giles

More information

Histpop - The Online Historical Population Reports Website.

Vision of Britain Census Reports.

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