William OgilvieThe 1881 census was taken on Sunday 3rd April and measured the population of the UK at 35 million.  The only change from the 1871 census was that in Scotland a question was included about languages spoken.  This would have been to measure how many gaelic speakers there were left in the population.

Thanks to the work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the 1881 census can be searched free of charge on multiple websites.   This is a really good starting place for any researcher.  Generally you should be able to research far enough back using Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes to be able to search for a specific ancestor in 1881.  For more information about using the indexes please see our UK Ancestry page.

The 1881 census can be accessed on Ancestry.co.uk and Find My Past.  Alternatively you can use the Family Search website which was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This website also contains the IGI or International Genealogical Index which is also a free of charge resource.

If you are going to try to search the census yourself there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Spellings and ages are not always the same from record to record.  Try not to use exact searches.
  • People were more mobile by the 1880s, they might be in a different town or village.
  • There are many transcription errors, try all possible search combinations.
  • If you can’t find your ancestor look for possible siblings.

If this all sounds a bit daunting or if you get stuck and need some help feel free to contact us and we’ll see if we can get you going again.  Alternatively we’d be happy to the search the 1881 census on your behalf.  For more information about how we can help you find your family story please see our services page or contact us by email.

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