Census records

The first census was taken in 1801 and has been repeated every 10 years, except during the Second World War. The original documents, held by The National Archives, are closed for 100 years to guarantee confidentiality. The census is taken to provide important statistical information on the population. The emphasis has varied through time and the details supplied in the returns are not absolutely standard.

From 1801 to 1831 the census returns were purely numerical in content and contained no personal information. The originals were not preserved after the "Census Reports" were published.

The 1841 census lists the name, age, sex and occupation of every person in the household. It does however, have a number of limitations for Family Historians in that it does not always give an exact address, nor indicate in which parish a person was born or the relationship with other members of the household. The greatest hindrance is that it does not give the exact age for individuals over the age of 15 with ages being rounded-down to the nearest 0 or 5 (eg somebody aged 44 would be recorded as 40 and somebody aged 48 recorded as 45. Many abbreviations were used for occupations (eg F.S. or M.S. for female or male servant; Ap for apprentice; CL for clerk).

From 1851 the census lists the full name, exact age, sex, marital status, family relationships, occupation, trade or profession and both the parish and country of birth. Condition or marital status is variously abbreviated (eg. U, Un or S for unmarried). The 1911 census is the most recent census that is available.

Viewing census records at the Hull History CentreAncestry.com logoFind My Past logo

Online - The quickest way to search UK census records is by using Ancestry or Find My Past . These are commercial websites but free access is available using our computers – you just need a valid Hull Libraries card.

You can search either by name (Ancestry and Find My Past) or by address (Find My Past only). You will be able to see a transcript of the information as well as the original image from the census, which you can print out.

Microfilm – Some census records can be viewed on microfilm. We hold microfilmed census records for Hull and Sculcoates for 1841-1901. These can be accessed via a street index which identifies the correct microfilm to use. They can only be searched by address.

The 1911 census has not been microfilmed so is only available online.

We also have several books on using census records which are available in the library area.


Below are examples of transcriptions and original images as available on Ancestry.com:

Ancestry.com example of census transcriptionAncestry.com example of census original image