Free Census Records

Search for your ancestor's census records for free

Here are genuine free census resources which allow you to search UK census records at no charge.

As a professional family tree researcher, I use commercial services which allow me to view original census records so that I can verify that the census details are correct. However, subscribing to those services can be expensive, so here are some totally free census search sites to help you research your own family tree.

If you are trying to find your elusive ancestor and unable to locate them in the free census searches, then I might well be able to help you. Please contact me if you would like some expert help searching censuses.

Please note, the free census links will open in a new window, if you permit them to.

When you look at old census records you will find out the names of old trades and occupations which people undertook back then. These professions can seem very obscure today, and their titles are not always intuitive. So, when you find a bit of a puzzler don't forget to look it up in my online Dictionary of Old Occupations, where I have researched and published the definitions of way over two thousand old census occupations.

Census research

As I search through census records whilst researching a family tree, I find it useful to type up my census findings, because the original census records can be very hard to read. If you click either of the following two census thumbnails you can see examples of how I organise the census findings as I work.

Census Records from the Reynolds family tree

Census Records


Family Census

As a professional genealogist, I have access to better sources of census information than the free census searches listed above. If you would like me to help you search for your family records then please contact me , and I can save you some hard work.

What is a Census?

A census is a system for recording information about the population. The famous Domesday Book might be considered an early example of a British census.

In the UK, a census takes place every ten years. The information is not normally made available to the public until 100 years have passed. Census data can be a valuable source of information for a family tree researcher, because they contains names, dates, ages, home addresses, marital status, place of birth, occupations, certain disabilities and other records.

Census information can be very hard to read, and in my experience the official transcripts can contain many errors. Where the census transcription work was 'off-shored' (i.e. done overseas) the results frequently seem to be mistranscribed into English. Therefore I always try to verify census findings by examining the original handwritten census records.

The earliest UK census which tends to be of help to family tree researchers is the 1841 census, because it includes the names of household members. Later censuses give the relationship between members of the household. Be cautious when using the 'place of birth' data found in census records, because it is often inaccurate. Also, the ages of adults were rounded to the nearest five years in the 1841 census, but was given correctly from the 1851 census onwards.

Birth registration records begin in July 1837, but registration was not compulsory until the 1870s. Birth registration records are a more reliable source of place and date of birth information than census returns. I can search the Civil Registration index of births for you, and obtain birth certificates for your ancestors.

Further information

You can find more free family tree information on my family researcher website, so feel free to look around. Census records frequently reveal that ancestors worked in unfamiliar historical occupations. You can look up old occupations for free on or you can buy my cheap ebook if you would like a legal offline copy for personal use.

Dictionary of Old Occupations by Jane Hewitt

The Dictionary Of Old Occupations

Interested in history? Researching your family tree and wondering what those old occupations you found on census records actually mean? Maybe you are a creative writer looking for details to give your work authenticity? The Dictionary of Old Occupations explains the meaning of job titles, trades, professions and terms dating back through the centuries.

A handy reference ebook for family tree researchers, creative writers and history buffs. Jane is an experienced, professional genealogist. Aided by her husband, Jane compiled the Dictionary of Old Occupations over several years. This A-Z is an informative and fascinating read, giving insight into the day to day experiences of real people from all walks of life over many centuries.
Available in Kindle and all other formats.

Also available in the US.

Census: The Expert Guide by Peter Christian

The National Archives' authoritative guide to its most popular set of records. The census has long been an important resource for family, local and social historians, yielding key information about our ancestors including their names, addresses, ages, family relationships and occupations. This one-stop guide covers everything you need to know about the 1841-1911 censuses in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, from the days of the enumerators knocking on everyone's doors to the modern privilege of internet access.

Buy Now

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