Many people believe that the first census of the population of the United Kingdom was conducted in 1841. However, this was only the first to list the names of all the members of each household. Earlier censuses were conducted in 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831. These early censuses were conducted by the Overseers of the Poor or other Parish officers rather than specifically employed census enumerators. As a consequence the data that was written down varied greatly. The aim of the censuses was to ascertain the population of the country and see whether it was increasing or diminishing.
Few of the recorded details of these early censuses survive. The details of those that do are given in this document. There would appear to be surviving parts of these early censuses for 3 Isle of Wight parishes, Calbourne (1811), Newchurch (1821, copy of part of the parish) and Ryde (1821).
I recently had cause to refer to the "Calbourn Poor-Rate 1810" volume (Record Office ref CAL/APR/1A/1). In the back of this volume is the data recorded for the 1811 census for Calbourne.
The data appears as 4 double page spreads, so I photographed each page and combined them into the double page images use photo-editing software. The images are quite large so for the gallery below I have used a reduced resolution; use the download buttons to get the full size images.
The first page is headed "Form of Answers by the Overseer ... to the Questions contained in the schedule to an Act 51 George 3rd intitled " An Act for taking an Account of the population of Great Britain, and of the Increase or Diminution thereof".
The first column is the name of the head of the household. This is followed by a number of columns of answers:
The columns of Answers are headed:
Question the First
- Inhabited Houses
- By how many families occupied
Question the 2nd
- Houses now building
- Other houses uninhabited
- Occupations, Families chiefly employed in
- Other trades
- Person including of any age
- Total of Persons
I have now produced a transcript of this document which is here.