Person search 1891 census
About the 1891 census for England, Wales and Scotland
The 1891 census was taken on 5 April and gave the total population as 33,015,701.
Read our comprehensive guide to the census including known issues with the 1891 census
Searching the 1891 UK census
The golden rule of family history is to check the original historical record, or 'primary source', wherever possible. We have provided clear images of the original census enumeration books for you to view once you've found the right family in the indexes.
When using census returns you should first search the transcriptions to help locate your ancestor in the census, and then view the original images to validate your findings. It will also help you see the household in the context of surrounding households.
This is particularly important as transcribing an entire census is a huge and difficult task, and whilst we have used the expertise of our transcribers and the experience of key representatives from the genealogy community to help us translate the records, it is inevitable that there will be some errors.
Read further tips on searching the 1891 census by clicking on the search tips panel, above.
Note: the census includes details of people resident in docked vessels and institutions such as prisons, workhouses, hospitals, and barracks, as well as individual households.
What can you find in the 1891 census?
Census returns can not only help us determine who our ancestors were, but they can also tell us
- Where your ancestors were living
- Who they were living with
- What their occupations were
- Whether they were an employer or employee
- If they had any servants
- Who their neighbours were
- If they had any brothers and sisters
- What their ages were at the time of the census
- If they had any disabilities
As well as giving us the above information, the fact that census returns are taken every ten years also allows us to track the movements of our ancestors through time as they perhaps move house, get married, have children or even change occupations.
The fields which have been transcribed for the 1891 census on findmypast are:
- First name
- Middle name
- Last name
- Birth place
- Place of residence
- Relationship to head of household
As well as searching for a person, you can also search the 1891 census by address - ideal for tracing your house history or exploring the local history of an area.
By noting how many households there were in a building, and whether the household included servants or boarders or visitors, you can gain insight into the social circumstances of the family.Search the other Victorian censuses on findmypast
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Less is more
Start your search with the basic information only. If you fill in too many search fields, the search results may actually exclude the person or place you are looking for, as one or more of the fields may not match your criteria exactly. If you get too many results, you can always complete more fields to condense them.
Even if you are sure you know the correct spelling of a name, it may not be recorded exactly as you’d expect. The spelling of a surname can change as it is passed down through the generations and your ancestor may have used a different first name in everyday life to the one used for official documents.
If you tick the ‘include variants’ tickbox, alternative spellings of the name you’ve entered will be included in the results. For example, if you enter Elizabeth you will also get matches for ‘Elisabeth’; ‘Smyth’ will appear alongside ‘Smythe’ and ‘Smith’; and ‘Sally’ alongside ‘Sarah’.
Broaden your search
If you are unsure of how a name was spelt or if you can’t find it with the usual spelling, the wildcard feature lets you broaden your search.
You can create a wildcard search by including a * in the search. It can be used within all alphabetical search fields, except those with drop-down menus.
For example, if you search for William Lancaster but enter ‘*caster’ in the last name field, your results will include names such as Doncaster and Hilcaster as well as Lancaster. So if the initial part of William Lancaster’s last name has been wrongly transcribed, the results may still lead you to the right entry.
The initial and/or last letters of names are sometimes mis-transcribed. You can use two wildcards in a search field to allow for these types of transcription error. For example, you could enter *ollin* if you were having difficulty finding a Rollind or a Collins.
Reverse the last name and first name
Most people were recorded on the census by first name and then last name. However, there are instances where the last name was recorded before the first name. This is particularly common for people in institutions.
You could try searching for an elusive ancestor by entering their last name in the first name field and their first name in the last name field.
Narrow down your results
Sort your results
If your search returns a large number of results, you may wish to sort them to help you read the list. You can sort via the name, birth year or registration district columns in the search results by clicking on the relevant column heading.
Other people living in the same household
You can enter the name of someone living in the same household to refine the results. Click the ‘advanced search’ tab to display the ‘Other persons living in the same household’ search fields.
Redefine your search
If your search produces over 1,000 results you will be asked to redefine it. Simply click ‘redefine current search’, enter more criteria into the search fields, and click "search" again. Don’t feel that you have to complete all the fields – it is best to gradually add information until you get the right results.