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1821 Census

Basic facts about the 1821 census

Since 1801, a census has been every ten years in England, Wales and Scotland.   The third such census was taken on Monday 28th May 1821.  The returns gave a population of 14.4 million people, an increase of 1.8 million over 1811.

Details of individuals and their names were not recorded in the official census returns (this did not happen until 1841), but the following details for each parish or township were recorded:

  • Number of inhabited houses, occupied by how many families.
  • Number of houses being built.
  • Number of uninhabited houses.
  • How many persons, how many male and how many female.
  • How many households are chiefly employed in agriculture; how many in trade, manufactures, or handicraft; and how many in neither.
  • The number of persons broken down into age ranges, male and female.

The instructions to those undertaking the census included the following: 

The Act laid down "Questions addressed to the Overseers in England; Who are respectively required to take an Account of the Resident Population, by proceeding from House to House on the Twenty-eighth Day of May One thousand eight hundred and twenty-one, and on the Days immediately subsequent thereto, if one Day shall not be sufficient".  They were asked to obtain the following information for the Parish, Township, or Place:

  1. How many inhabited houses are there in your Parish, Township, or Place and by how many families are they occupied.
  2. How many houses are now building, and therefore not yet inhabited.
  3. How many other houses are inhabited.
  4. What number of families in your Parish, Township, or Place, are chiefly employed in and maintained by agriculture, or by trade, manufacture, or handicraft.
  5. How many Persons (including children of whatever age) are there actually found within the limits of your Parish, Township, or Place, at the time of taking this account, distinguishing males and females, and exclusive of men actually serving in His Majesty's Regular Forces, in the old Militia, or in any embodied Local Militia, and exclusive of Seamen either in His Majesty's Service, or belonging to Registered Vessels.
  6. Referring to the number of persons in 1811; To what cause do you attribute any remarkable difference in the Number at present.
  7. If you are of opinion that in making the preceding enquiries (or at any time before returning this Schedule,) the ages of the several Individuals can be obtained in a manner satisfactory to yourself, and not inconvenient to the parties, be pleased to state the number of those who are under 5 Years of Age, of those between 5 and 10 Years of Age, between 10 and 15, between 15 and 20, between 20 and 30, between 30 and 40, between 40 and 50, between 50 and 60, between 60 and 70, between 70 and 80, between 80 and 90, between 90 and 100, and upwards of 100, distinguishing males from females.