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Genealogists in the 1921 Census of England and Wales: discover a profession that stands the test of time

3-4 minute read

By Jen Baldwin | April 12, 2024

1921 Census of England and Wales

Of all the occupations found in the 1921 Census of England & Wales, 'genealogist' might just be our favourite.

We've found some amazing things in the 1921 Census of England and Wales, there's no doubt about it.

Unlike previous censuses, for the first time, the 1921 Census included a question on each individual's employer and place of work. This means that we can glean interesting occupational insights from the census returns. Learn more about the occupation codes used in the 1921 Census.

Search the 1921 Census

Can you find your ancestor?

From miners and transport workers to academics and writers, there is a massive array of jobs documented in this valuable resource. But what of the family historians of the decade?

The profession of genealogy has existed for generations. Our expert Jen Baldwin discusses just a few of our kindred spirts we found in the census. 

1. Raymond T. Berthon

The enumerator made a special note for Raymond’s occupation. Though he listed himself as a professional genealogist, 'not occupied for living' is added in.

Raymond's 1921 census return

Raymond's 1921 Census return. View this record and its transcript here..

This is the 3rd census in which Raymond appears as a genealogist. 

2. Elizabeth and Joseph Bartlett

American genealogists with a global reputation, it would seem that Elizabeth and Joseph were in London on the night of the census to conduct research. They are published in the New England Historic & Genealogical Society Register and were given lifetime memberships. In 1934, his book A Genealogy of the Descendants of Joseph Bartlett of Newton, Mass for Seven Generations was published and is now available for the public.

Joseph Bartlett's 1921 census return

Joseph and Elizabeth's 1921 Census record. View the full record here.

He ultimately published at least four major works and you can still find several articles of his in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register.

3. Herbert and Henry Sayers

Herbert and Henry were brothers from Jersey who shared a passion for their history. Their lives mirror one another, both marrying and starting families, and spending most of their careers in the Channel Islands. In 1921, however, they are both in Surrey.  

Henry's 1921 census record

Henry's 1921 Census record. View this full record and its transcript here.

Henry can be found with his wife Annie and their children, Henry and Alice, on St Helier Angel Road, Thames Ditton. 

Herbert's 1921 Census record

Herbert's 1921 Census record. View the full record here.

Herbert is seen with wife Marie, his brother-in-law Clarence Le Brocq and niece, Margaret Mary Le Brocq, living at The Corner House, Thames Ditton. 

4. Fanny Charlotte Bamford

One of the very few females who counted themselves in the occupation of genealogist, she lists herself as a co-head of the household with Harriett Katherine Louise Thompson.

While the enumerator appears to have written 'single' over their entry of 'head' in the marital status column, it’s clear they were partners in life.

Fanny and Harriet's 1921 Census record

Fanny and Harriet's 1921 Census return. View the full record here.

They also listed themselves as shared head of household in the 1911 Census while living in Cornwall, though at the time, only 'private means' was included for occupation rather than the 'research work, genealogical' she noted in 1921.

Fanny and Harriet's 1911 Census return.

Fanny and Harriet's 1911 Census return. View the full record here.

You’ll find them residing at 4 Winside, Frensham, Surrey. 

5. Leonard Arthur White

The youngest of our group, at just 23 years, Leonard proves there are no age restrictions in the world of family history.

Leonard's army medical history record.

Leonard's army medical history record. View this full record here.

He enlisted to fight in the First World War in 1917, aged 18, with the Royal Irish Rifles. He struggled during his service, at one point suffering from shell shock and paralysis of his left hand after being burned by a shell. By 1921, he resided in Paddington with his parents, Arthur and Alice.

Leonard's 1921 Census return

Leonard's 1921 Census return. View this record here.

While we explore our family history, it’s also gratifying to explore the history of genealogy. You can check out these researchers and more of our tremendous historical community in the 1921 Census.

The 1921 Census is just the tip of the iceberg - we have undertaken so much exciting digitisation work with our partners The National Archives. You can learn more via our YouTube channel today.

The 1921 Census: Your Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I access the 1921 Census?

The 1921 Census of England and Wales is held at The National Archives in London, but you don't need to make the journey to access its contents - you can search the 1921 Census for free with a Findmypast free trial or Premium subscription.

Who filled in the 1921 Census?

Around 38 million people were living in England and Wales when the census was taken on 19 June 1921, but not every individual filled in their census return - it was just the head of each household that recorded the necessary information. Enumerators, who were often teachers, office clerks and First World War veterans, organised and collected all of the forms.

What is the oldest UK census?

Population surveys date back to William the Conqueror's Domesday Book, which was compiled in 1086. Censuses, as we know them today, have been taken almost every decade since 1801, but the 1841 Census is the first fully surviving UK census - you can search it on Findmypast.

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Jen Baldwin Findmypast genealogistJen Baldwin