Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


1881 and 1891 Census records for England and Wales go online

As family history becomes more popular than ever – thanks to BBC2’s TV series Who Do You Think You Are? – a new initiative by The National Archives and Inc will make it even easier to research your family history online. and The National Archives have come together to launch a new co-branded online service. For the first time, fully searchable indexes and scans of original documents from the 1881 and 1891 censuses for England and Wales are available at And over the next two years all historic censuses from 1841 to 1891 will be made available online in the same way providing a wealth of information about everyone living in the country, including their ages, occupations and places of birth.

“This is the first time that you can view the original 1881 census books online”
says Mark Pearsall, family historian at The National Archives, which holds all the original censuses.

“The indexes are already available online, but it’s exciting to see the original pages as they were written 123 years ago. They are also useful because they can help give you the context for the family and the street they lived on. For example, a friend found that her cousin had married her neighbour.”

Searching the index of names is free and if you want to see the full original entry you can do that on a pay-per-view basis, which means it’s easier than ever to get started in family history. In addition, at a date to be confirmed in January 2005, the 1881 and 1891 census records will be free of charge if you are accessing them at The National Archives in Kew or at the Family Records Centre in Islington.

If you’re a celebrity spotter, these records also provide a glimpse into the lives of the 19 th century’s rich and famous.

Celebrities from 1881 include:
Winston Churchill – 6 year old living with his parents in Oxford
Queen Victoria – living at Windsor Castle with other members of the Royal Family including Eugenie, the ‘Ex-Empress of the French’
Charles Darwin – living with his large family at Down House in Kent
Mrs Pankhurst – recently married and living in Stretford with her husband and daughter Christabel
Famous names from 1891 include:
Albert Edward, Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VII
Agatha C Miller – Agatha Christie aged just 7 months
Isaac Pitman – the inventor of the shorthand writing system
William Gladstone – the former (and future) Prime Minister, staying at the Hotel Metropole, Kings Road, Brighton
Colourful 1881 characters include a man called Donald Duck; a GP called Dr Robert De’ath; William Neal, who had no occupation because he was “too idle”, and the Munslow twins called “Bank” and “Holiday”.

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