The amount of information listed varies, but the 1851 census records usually include the following information about your ancestor:

  • First name
  • Middle name
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Birth place
  • Age
  • Place of residence
  • County
  • Relationship to head of household

    As well as searching for a person, you can also search the 1851 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.
  • Discover more about the 1851 UK census

    When the 1851 census was taken on 30 March total population was recorded as 17,922,768.

    The golden rule of any historical research is to check the original historical record, or "primary source", wherever possible, and 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, once you have located your ancestor in the census, you should then view the original images to validate your findings. The image of the original document will also help you see the household in the context of surrounding households as all the information will be provided in one clear place, as it was originally written down.

    The original documents would have been given to your ancestor several days before the March 30th date, and the head of household would have been asked to fill in the details for anyone who would have been residing at that address on the census date. Of course, illiteracy was high in 1851, and anyone unable to read or write would have made use of an enumerator - a literate person who would be collecting the census forms - to help fill in the details. Because of this, however, you may note mistakes that were made, such as name spellings. It should also be noted that many people were often economical with the truth when it came to their ages.

    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.

    Missing pieces

    A small number of permanent gaps exist in the 1851 census. In the enumeration books the following parishes and hamlets are permanently missing from these piece numbers. Some of these parishes and hamlets represent the entirety of the piece, while others are just portions of a piece.

    1762Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Parish: Ashley-cum-Silverley
      St Mary
      Swaffham Prior
    1763Cambridgeshire and SuffolkParish: Dalham
      Higham Green
      Southwell Park
    1785EssexParish: Aythorp-Roothing
      Easton Lodge
      Great Bardfield
      Great Canfield
      Great Dunmow
      Great Easton
      Hatfield-Broad-Oak or Hatfield Regis
      High Easter
      High Roothing
      Little Bardfield
      Little Canfield
      Little Easton
      Little Dunmow
      Margaret Roothing
      White Roothing
    1852DorsetParish: Bagbere
      Child Okeford
      Hinton St Mary
      Shillingstone or Shilling-Okeford

    In addition, the census returns of the following localities have been damaged by water during storage. Most of the damaged pieces are in the area of Manchester.

    2332YorkshireParish: Broadroyd Head
      Carr Green
      Cudworth with High & Low Cudworth
      Darton Lane Head
      Darton with Blacker
      Staincross & Swallow Hill
    2219LancashireParish: Manchester
      Birth in Rusholme
    2220LancashireParish: Manchester
    2222/1LancashireParish: Eccles
    2222/2LancashireParish: Eccles
    2222/3LancashireParish: Manchester
      Broughton-with Kersall
    2223LancashireParish: Manchester
    2224LancashireParish: Manchester
    2225LancashireParish: Manchester
    2226LancashireParish: Manchester
    2227LancashireParish: Manchester
    2228LancashireParish: Manchester
    2229LancashireParish: Manchester
    2230LancashireParish: Manchester
    2231LancashireParish: Manchester
      Newton with Culcheth & Kirkmanshulme
    2232LancashireParish: Manchester
      Great Heaton
      Knott Lanes with Lees
      Knott Lanes & Wood Park
      Little Heaton
    2233LancashireParish: Ashton-under-Lyne
      Ashton Town
    2240LancashireParish: Prestwich
      Oldham (St Mary"s, St Peter"s, Wernet, and Westwood Wards)