1861 CensusPlease login to see the search form or click here to register
The date of the 1861 census was the night of 7 April 1861.
The 1861 census is the first census conducted by the office of the Registrar General for Scotland, established under the 1854 Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act. (The gathering of Scottish census information in 1841 and 1851 had taken place under Home Office jurisdiction, organised in Scotland by the sheriffs and chief magistrates and collected largely by schoolteachers in the various parishes).
The 1861 census utilised the system of registration districts and network of local registrars established by the 1854 Act, for its data collection. Census enumerators were appointed and assigned a specific area to cover, distributing a schedule to every household in that area before census night. They then collected the completed schedules the following day, checked the details and copied them into an enumerator's book. They returned the book and the schedules to the local registrar who in turn checked them and sent them to the Census Office. The census information that we see derives from the enumerators' transcript books, not the original schedules, which were destroyed.
Help with searching
- Information given in the census can be inaccurate – age, place of birth, even recorded relationship to head of household can all be unreliable, either by accident or by design. For example, sometimes a person did not know their correct age or was not always honest about it!
- Since the census recorded those in a particular household on census night, the person you are looking for may be missing from home because they were living and working elsewhere, staying with relatives, in an institution, hospital, prison, at sea, etc. and either recorded there or not at all.
- Married women were generally recorded by their married name in the census, but it is not uncommon for the maiden name to be used.
- A widow might also have reverted back to her maiden name so you should check for both.
- Children might have taken the name of the stepfather if the mother remarried.
- The family name may have been altered after immigration to or emigration from Scotland or migration from the Highlands to the Lowlands.
An 1861 census image is a digital image of a page of the original enumeration book, showing the members of the household in which you are interested, on census night. When you view a census image, you may choose to navigate back to the previous page or forwards to the next page of that census enumeration book. Each navigation will cost 5 credits, unless it has been previously viewed.
At the beginning of each enumeration book, the enumerator described in detail the area covered by the book. When you view a census image, you may also choose to view, at no extra cost, the header page of the enumeration book in which that particular entry can be found.
Use the information you find in the 1861 census to further your search.
- birthplaces and ages recorded can be used to look for the births or baptisms of these family members.
- names of parents can be looked up in the marriage index.
- disappearance of an elderly relative or a young child between census years might indicate a death to be pursued.
- a woman might return to her family home for her first confinement, therefore the given birthplace of the eldest child might be an indication of where her parents are living.
For a detailed breakdown of what you might expect to find on an 1861 census image, look at Images
Example of an 1861 census image
You can view a street index here.