Key Dates in English records

  • 1538 – A mandate is issued requiring that every parish was to keep a register. Many parishes ignored this order. Only about 800 registers exist from this time period.
  • 1643-1659 – Registers were poorly kept during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period which followed, or abandoned altogether.
  • 1733 – The use of Latin in registers is prohibited.
  • 1751 – Calendar reform. Prior to this the year commenced on 25th March, so any register entry for December 1750 would have been followed by January 1750.
  • 1754 – Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act. A separate marriage register is enforced which records witnesses, signatures of all parties, occupation of groom and the residences of the couple marrying. It also enforced Banns and made clandestine marriages illegal.
  • 1763 – Minimum age for marriage set at 16 (previously the Church accepted marriage of girls of 12 and boys of 14). Those under 21 still needed the consent of parents. On marriage records individuals that are over 21 often have their age listed as “full age” rather than an exact year.
  • 1801 > There has been a census every ten years since 1801, excluding 1941. However, only those that date from 1841 are of real value to the family historian. The administration of the early census returns 1801-1831 was the responsibility of the Overseers of the Poor and the clergy. Most of these early returns were unfortunately destroyed, although in some isolated instances they have been preserved.
  • 1812 – George Rose’s Act. New pre-printed registers were to be used for separate baptism, marriage and burial registers as a way of standardizing records.
  • 1836 – General Registration Act, which had culminated in the introduction of civil registration had resulted in a new layer of central and local government.
  • 1841 –  The 1841 census (6th June) was different from the previous censuses in two important respects. Firstly, the administration passed into the hands of the Registrar General and the Superintendant Registrars, who were responsible for the registration of births, marriages and deaths.Secondly, the emphasis changed from questions concerned with population size, and the numbers engaged in certain occupations and the condition of the housing stock, to a much more detailed analysis of individuals and families, and the communities in which they lived.
  • Each householder was required to complete a census schedule which contained the household address and the names, ages, sexes, occupations and places of birth of each individual living at the address. The information was recorded on pre-printed census schedules, which were left with a household before later being collected by the enumerator. If there was no one in the house who could write, the enumerator helped to record the information. Once collected, the schedules were then copied by the enumerator in the official books, which were known as the ‘Census Enumerator’s books’. As the original census schedules have been destroyed, it is the census enumerator’s books that researchers can see. Unfortunately, there can be mistakes in the records, as the enumerator would be transcribing the information from the original schedules into the official books.
  • Instructions to enumerators concerning recording ages for 1841 census: Write the age of every person under 15 years of age as it is stated to you.

For persons aged 15 years and upwards, write the lowest of the term of 5 years within which the age is.        Thus, for Persons aged:- 

  • 15 years and under 20 write 15;
  • 20 years and under 25 write 20;
  • 25 years and under 30 write 25;
  • 30 years and under 35 write 30;
  • 35 years and under 40 write 35;
  • 40 years and under 45 write 40;
  • 45 years and under 50 write 45;
  • 50 years and under 55 write 50;
  • 55 years and under 60 write 55;
  • 60 years and under 65 write 60;
  • 65 years and under 70 write 65;
  • 70 years and under 75 write 70
  • 1851 – 1851 Census (30th March)
  • In 1851, householders were asked to give more precise details of the places of birth of each resident, to state their relationship to him or her, marital status and the nature of any disabilities from which they may have suffered. The enumerator then collected the census schedules and these were copied into census enumerators’ books. Although the original census schedules were destroyed many years ago, the books were kept and eventually moved to the PRO archive. The books were then filmed in 1970 to prevent the increasing usage from destroying these fragile records.
  • 1861 – 1861 Census (7th April)
  • 1871 – 1871 Census (2nd April)
  • 1881 – 1881 Census (3rd April)
  • 1891 – 1891 Census (5th April)
  • In 1891, householders were asked how many rooms (if less then five) their family occupied and additional occupational data was collected.
  • 1901 – 1901 Census (31st March)
  • 1911 – 1911 Census (2nd April)
  • The 1911 census was taken on the 2nd April and contains millions more records than the previous 1901 census. This is the first available census to be filled in by the head of the family, enabling one to view people’s handwriting. The 1911 is thought to be one of the most important record sets as it will show family records in detail before the WW1. Additional pieces of information included for the first time are nationality, duration of current marriage, number of children born within that marriage, number of living children and the number of any children who had died. Extra occupation information may show details of the industry in which they worked.
  • 1921 – 1921 Census (19th June) To be released 2022
  • 1931 – 1931 Census (26th April) Destroyed during WW2
  • 1939 – 1939 National Registration (29th September) now available to public
  • 1951 – 1951 Census (8th April) Subject to 100 year rule
  • 1961 – 1961 Census (23rd April) Subject to 100 year rule
  • 1971 – 1971 Census (25th April) Subject to 100 year rule
  • 1981 – 1981 Census (5th April) Subject to 100 year rule
  • 1991 – 1991 Census (21st April) Subject to 100 year rule
  • 2001 – 2001 Census (29th April) Subject to 100 year rule
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One response to “Key Dates in English records

  1. Pingback: How big is the Ivens family? | All about Ivens·

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