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The London Census - An Introduction

The Enumerators' Books

Every ten years a census was taken - a census is a survey of all people and households in the country. Each householder was required to complete a census schedule giving details of each individual residing in his or her accomodation, including the address of the household, the names, ages, sex, occupations and places of birth. In 1851 more precise details were given, including the places of birth of each resident, their relationship to him or her, marital status and the nature of any disabilities from which they may have suffered. In 1891 householders were asked how many rooms their family occupied (if less than five) and more occupational data was collected.

Then the enumerator collected the census schedules and these were then copied into census enumerators' books. These are grouped in a way which may mean that a road is split over several folios with other streets in between - in this case the street indexes usually list a series of folio references.

Although the original census schedules were destroyed many years ago, the enumerators' books were kept. They were eventually moved to the PRO archive, and in 1970 the books were filmed to prevent increasing usage from destroying these fragile records.

There may be the odd torn or mutilated page but considering the heavy usage they have had, the records have survived in remarkable condition.

Click to view an example of a census pageDetails provided by the London Census

Full name, exact age, relationship to head of household, sex, occupation, parish and county of birth, medical disabilities and employment status. (Exact information included varies between census years - for more details see the London Census Facts page.)

The Census is arranged by Registration District and Sub-Districts, and for areas of high population Street Indexes are included.


Piece number - Normally containsbetween 100-400 pages

A PRO reference number - referring to a number of Enumeration Districts represented by a file RG9-XXXX (XXXX = piece number).

Enumeration District- refers to a group of streets and has a special sheet listing which streets are in the following pages.

Folio - Reference to two pages. The original book pages were stamped with a folio number on every other page in the top right-hand corner.

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