An In-Depth Look at Scottish Census Records 8

Although there were censuses taken prior to 1841, the earlier ones do not provide much in the way of genealogical information, being more an account of numbers of people in any given household, and not named persons. The census records “everyone present in the house on the night” so anyone visiting, away working etc would not be included.

Information in the early census records is quite minimal but the 1841 census will give you:

  • Name
  • Approximate age (enumerators were instructed to round down anyone over 15 to the nearest 5 years)
  • Occupation
  • whether born in county (Y or N)  

From 1851, you will get the relationship of each person to the head of the household. You will also get their birthplace, rather than just whether or not they were born in the county. The census returns from 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 will give you:

  • Place
  • Name of each member of the household
  • Each person’s relationship to the head of the household
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Place of birth
  • Whether deaf, dumb, blind, imbecile or idiot

These years will also alert you to how many children were in school and how many rooms there were with one or more windows.

The 1891 and 1901 censuses will tell you whether the person was Gaelic or English speaking and whether they were the employer or the employed.

The 1911 census, the most recent census available, provides a wealth of genealogical information. In these returns you can view a full two-page spread. The columns provide:

  • Address
  • Whether house is inhabited or uninhabited
  • Number of rooms with one or more windows
  • Name and Surname of each person in the household
  • Number of persons in the household
  • Relationship to Head of Household
  • Age
  • Gaelic or English speaking
  • Particulars as to marriage
  • status
  • number of years married
  • number of live children born to the woman
  • number of children still living
  • Personal occupation
  • Industry/Service number occupation associated with
  • Employer or Worker
  • If working at home
  • Birthplace
  • Nationality if born in foreign country
  • Whether deaf, deaf and dumb, blind, idiot, imbecile or feeble-minded

Census records are a terrific way to find siblings of your ancestor, to find the birth place of each family member and to find any others in the village who may be related to your ancestors. The census records from 1841-1911 are available on the  website.







About Christine Woodcock

Scottish born, Canadian raised, Christine Woodcock is a genealogy educator with an expertise in the Scottish records. She enjoys sharing new resources to assist others in their quest to find and document their heritage. Christine is also a lecturer, author and blogger. She is the Director of Genealogy Tours of Scotland ( and enjoys taking fellow Scots “home” to do onsite genealogy research and to discover their own Scottish heritage.

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