Census returns for the years 1801-1831 inclusive were intended merely as headcounts. In a very few cases there surviving returns which provide for example, names of householders and size of families.
The first major national census of use to family historians was carried out in 1841. Subsequent censuses were taken every ten years, 1851, 1861 etc. (with the exception of 1941 during World War 2, when no census was taken).
Access to censuses is restricted under a 100 year rule. Presently, the most recent census that can be viewed by the public is for 1911.
A census was taken to record those living in a household at midnight on a Sunday. The dates of the census varied from year to year.
- Sun/Mon. 6/7th June 1841
- Sun/Mon. 30/31st March 1851
- Sun/Mon. 7/8th April 1861
- Sun/Mon. 2/3rd April 1871
- Sun/Mon. 3/4th April 1881
- Sun/Mon. 5/6th April 1891
- Sun/Mon. 31st March / 1st April 1901
- Sun/Mon. 2nd/3rd April 1911
Click here to see an example of an 1821 census page for Hendon (North London).
(The full set of census books, covering Hendon, Highwood Hill and part of Mill Hill) is available on CD from Parish Chest.
If you are struggling to find census dates, the British Genealogy Forum could hold the answer for you. Ask them a question and watch as the fellow genealogists all provide their expertise! All you have to do is sign up for free!