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Census

A National census has been taken every ten years since 1801 with the exception of 1941. The 1841 census was the first to list the names of every individual.

From 1841 to 1901 a census schedule was completed for each household, and was then collected by the enumerator who copied the information into an enumeration book. It is these enumeration books that we consult today online and on microfilm. You can search for an individual household, a name or an institution such as Ruthin Gaol or St Asaph Workhouse.

The census was taken on the following dates-

  • 1841- 6th June
  • 1851- 30th March
  • 1861- 7th April
  • 1871- 2nd April
  • 1881- 3rd April
  • 1891- 5th April
  • 1901- 31st March
  • 1911- 2nd April
  • 1921- 19th June

The information provided in the census changed, becoming more detailed over time. The 1841 census will only tell you the address, name, age (rounded down to the nearest 5 for those 15 and over), sex, occupation, whether the individual was born in the county (Y/N) or Scotland, Ireland or Foreign Parts.

The 1851-1901 censuses include more information such as relationship to the head of the household, marital status, more accurate age and address, occupation, county and parish of birth, language spoken (from 1891 in Wales) and whether they suffered from certain medical disabilities.

As well as information provided in the previous censuses, 1911 includes the number of children born of a marriage (living and deceased), detailed occupations and extra detail on nationality.

The 1921 census is due to be released in January 2022 on Findmypast.co.uk and also includes householder’s place of employment and their employer’s name. Those aged 15 and older were required to provide information about their marital status, including if divorced, while for those under 15 the census recorded whether both parents were alive or if either or both had died.

A number of North East Wales parishes are missing from the census. Use this table to find out which parishes are missing.

If you are unable find someone in the census, use The National Archives guide to find reasons why information can be missed or altered.

What records can I find at my North East Wales Archive branch?

The North East Wales Archive does not hold any original census records.

We hold microfilm copies of the census for Denbighshire and Flintshire between 1841 and 1901; these are indexed by town/village. The 1911 census is only available at the office online.

Census records have now been scanned and added to subscription websites such as findmypast.co.uk and ancestry.co.uk. You can access these sites for free in the search-room.

The 1939 Register is similar to but not the same as the census. For more information on the 1939 Register, please read The National Archives guide on the 1939 Register.

What language were the records written in?

Most census returns were written in English and completed by the enumerator, however in 1911 the census forms were completed by the householder for the first time which meant that some returns were completed in Welsh using a Welsh language form.

How can I access these records?

Census returns are available on ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. You can access these sites for free in the search-room by booking a PC. You can also access the 1939 register online.

If you want to view census returns on microfilm, you will need to book a microfilm reader. We do not hold original census records.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

The National Archives, Kew

The original census records between 1841 and 1911 are held at The National Archives.

Office of National Statistics

The 1921 census, and all later censuses which survive are kept by the Office for National Statistics. These censuses will only be available 100 years after the date they were conducted. The 1921 census is due to be released in January 2022 on Findmypast.co.uk.