The British government took its first national census in 1801.
A census has been taken every ten years since that date, except in 1941 during the Second World War. The first really useful census was not taken until 1841, when names were recorded properly for the first time.
Before 1841 the Census was mainly just a head count, although there are records of names before this date in some very rare cases.
The 1841 Census attempts to list name, age, sex and occupation of each person in each household. However, it has limitations compared with later 19th century returns.
* it does not indicate in which parish a person was born
* it does not give exact ages for people above 15 years of age. Ages were rounded down to the nearest five years
* it does not give exact addresses
* it does not record family relationships
Also many abbreviations were used for occupations (eg F.S. or M.S. for female or male servant; Ap for apprentice; CL for clerk)
The 1841 Census was taken on the night of 6 June 1841
The 1851 Census was taken on the night of 30 March 1851
The 1861 Census was taken on the night of 7 April 1861
The 1871 Census was taken on the night of 2 April 1871
The 1881 Census was taken on the night of 3 April 1881
The 1891 Census was taken on the night of 5 April 1891
The 1901 Census was taken on the night of 31 March 1901
The 1911 Census was taken on the night of 2 April 1911
The information requested since 1841 has varied slightly over the years, but generally the following was required:
- Name of road, street, etc
- House number or name
- Whether or not the house was inhabited
- Name of each person that had spent the night in that household
- Relationship of person enumerated to the head of the family
- Person’s marital status
- Age at last birthday (sex is indicated by which column the age is recorded in)
- Person’s occupation
- Person’s place of birth
- Whether blind, deaf, idiot or lunatic
Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a couple of days before census night and the complete forms were collected the day after. All responses were to be true information about everyone in the household including any visitors or lodgers, this was not always the case, sometimes the wrong information was given deliberately and sometimes the people just didn’t really know. The information on the forms that were completed by the householders was transferred onto official census forms by an appointed transcriber. All of the householders original forms from 1841 to 1901 were subsequently destroyed.
The people who compiled and reviewed the census data made a variety of marks on the forms. Unfortunately, many of these marks are written over personal information and some fields can be difficult to read as a result.
Census returns were collected according to registration district. They are then given an enumeration district and a page number. Mansfield Woodhouse was originally split into three enumeration districts, this increased to eight as the population grew. All of the original Census images for all of the enumeration districts for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 & 1911 in Mansfield Woodhouse are on this site.
Some more Census Abbreviations
WI = wife
DA = daughter
FWK = Framework Knitter
FRMR = farmer
GD = granddaughter
GS = grandson
HD = head
Lgr = lodger
M = married
U = unmarried
NP = nephew
NC = niece
SCH = scholar
Sis = sister
SO = son
SV or Ser = servant
SL or SOLW = son-in-law (this could mean stepson)
AG LAB = agricultural laborer