UK Census Dates

The dates of each England and Wales Census are listed below:

Tuesday 10 March 1801
Monday 27 May 1811
Monday 28 May 1821
Monday 30 May 1831
Sunday 6 June 1841
Sunday 30 March 1851
Sunday 7 April 1861
Sunday 2 April 1871
Sunday 3 April 1881
Sunday 5 April 1891
Sunday 31 March 1901
Sunday 2 April 1911
Sunday 19 June 1921
Sunday 26 April 1931
Friday 29 September 1939
Sunday 8 April 1951
Sunday 23 April 1961
Sunday 24 April 1966
Sunday 25 April 1971
Sunday 5 April 1981
Sunday 21 April 1991
Sunday 29 April 2001
Sunday 27 March 2011

There were also co-ordinated Census of Scotland and of Northern Ireland.

Each Census lists the people present in each dwelling at midnight at the end of the above day.

  • The 1801 – 1831 Census were statistical only, containing no genealogical data, and few records survive.
  • The 1931 Census records were destroyed by a fire (see
  • The 1939 Census was used for World War II National Registration.
  • There was no census taken in 1941 due to World War II.
  • The 1966 Census covered just 10% of the population.

Note that only the 1911 and earlier Census are currently available to the public due to the Data Protection Act 100 year rule protecting the privacy of living persons.

A Free Online “Beginners Guide To Latin” Course

Beginners-Latin-CourseIf you are lucky enough to trace your ancestors back before the mid 1700s then it will not be long before you find that more and more of the documents you wish to consult are written in Latin. This creates a big problem for Family Historians and Genealogists who were not taught Latin in school. To make things worse even those who were taught Classical Latin will find the Latin used in old English documents significantly different. We were therefore excited to discover a free, online, Beginners Guide To Latin available from the National Archives entitled “Latin 1086 – 1733: A practical online tutorial for beginners”. We recommend that anyone who has traced their family back before the mid 1700s takes a look at this Beginners’ Latin tutorial.

The tutorial is divided into 6 sections:

  • Introduction
  • Where To Start
  • Tutorials
  • Reference
  • Activities
  • Further Practice

The Introduction explains how the course will cover the Latin used in official documents between 1086 (when the Doomsday Book was written) to 1733 (when all official documents were written in English).

The Where to Start section shares a few tips on learning Latin.

The Tutorial section includes 12 lessons which increase in difficulty.

The Reference section covers topics such as a Word List, Common Problems, Dating Documents.

The Activities section contains 12 challenges to test what you have learned from the 12 Tutorials

The Further Practice section is a link to their free online Palaeography course.

As we have mentioned above; the course is free and we feel provides an excellent introduction to the type of Latin used in old historical documents. If you would like to learn more about Latin we suggest you take a look at this free course.

If you feel that this Beginners’ Guide To Latin is too basic for you then we recommend that you take a look at their free online Advanced Latin course.

Free Online Palaeography Course

Authorisation-of-expenditurePalaeography is the study of old handwriting.

Typewriters were not invented until the 1860s and, even after that, many documents of interest to Family Historians were handwritten with pen and ink in large, heavy, leather bound, books or on parchment. If you have managed to trace your ancestors back before the 1841 Census then it will not be long before you find yourself sitting in a darkened room squinting at feint, faded, handwriting on a microfiche screen wondering how anyone who wrote so badly could ever become a Curate.

I was very interested to recently discover a free online Palaeography Course run by The National Archives entitled “Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500 – 1800 A practical online tutorial“. If you are interested in genealogy and would like to learn how to read old manuscripts then you may like to take a look. The tutorial was developed in partnership with the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (SLAIS), University College London.

The course is free and is broken down into 5 main sections:

  • Introduction
  • Where To Start
  • Quick Reference
  • Tutorial
  • Further Practice

The course is supplemented by a light hearted Ducking Stool game and some links for further reading.

The Introduction is a brief summary of Palaeography and why you may find it useful.

The Where to Start section looks at Reading, Standard Phrases, Transcribing, Spelling and Abbreviations.

The Quick Reference section looks at Dating, Numbers, Money, Measurements and Counties.

The Interactive Tutorial covers 10 documents arranged in order of difficulty, each document has an explanation of it’s historical background, a glossary, notes on the palaeography, a sample alphabet taken from each document and a full transcript.

The Further Practice section has links to many documents so you can gain some additional practice.

The Ducking Stool game which follows is a light hearted game introduced as follows: “A 17th-century woman has been accused of a crime and as her punishment she faces the ducking stool. To free her from this fate you must correctly transcribe the following words…”

The Course ends with a Further Reading section with links to many useful documents and websites.

I would recommend this free National Archives Palaeography course to any Family Historian or Genealogist as a fascinating introduction to the world of old handwriting.

Julian Calendar vs Gregorian Calendar

Britain did not start using our current Gregorian Calendar until 1752. Before this time the new year began on 21 March (Lady Day) rather than 1 January. So this means, for example, that if 1 January 1750 is mentioned in old records it is actually 1 January 1751 using our current calendar (some church records may state the year as “1750/1″ for dates between 1 January and 20 March to emphasize this).

Also remember that our current Gregorian calendar was 11 days out from the old Julian Calendar so in order to correct this anomaly Wednesday 2 September 1952 was immediately followed by Thursday 14 September in 1952.

Latin Names of Months of the Year

Genealogists searching historical records will often find the names of the months of the year written in Latin. The following is a quick guide to translating the Latin names:

Martius = March
Aprilis = April
Maius = May
Iunius = June
Iulius = July
Ausustus = August
September = September
October = October
November = November
December = December
Ianuarius = January
Februarius = February

If you are interested in learning Latin we are happy to recommend the free Beginners’ Latin online course run by the National Archives.

What Do “Second Cousin” and “Cousin Once Removed” Mean?

“Second Cousin” and“Cousin Once Removed” are genealogy terms used to describe kinship which are frequently misunderstood.  They are often wrongly used interchangeably when, in reality, they are describing completely different relationships.

The precise relationship between yourself and your cousin is determined by the common ancestor you share (which specifies the degree such as“First”, “Second” and “Third”) and the generation gap between yourself and your cousin (which specifies the separation “Once Removed”, “Twice Removed” and “Three Times Removed”).

Your “First Cousin” is a relative to whom you are linked via one, or both, of your grandparents (for example a child of one of your uncles or aunts).

Your “Second Cousin” is a relative to whom you are linked via one, or both, of your great-grandparents.

Your “Third Cousin” is a relative to whom you are linked via one, or both, of your great-great-grandparents.

The removal modifier (“Once Removed”, “Twice Removed” etc.) can then be added to the above terms to specify the generation gap between your cousin and yourself.  Note that the ages of your cousin and yourself are irrelevant… it is the generation gap which is important.

“Once Removed” means that there is a generation gap of one generation between your cousin and yourself.  A “First Cousin Once Removed” is therefore the grandchild of one of your uncles or aunts.

“Twice Removed” means that there is a generation gap of two generations between your cousin and yourself.  A “First Cousin Twice Removed” is therefore a great-grandchild of one of your uncles or aunts.

“Three Times Removed” means that there is a generation gap of three generations between your cousin and yourself.  A “First Cousin Three Times Removed” is therefore a great-great-grandchild of one of your uncles or aunts.

Note that the removal modifier can signify a generation gap upwards or downwards.

If you are mathematically inclined then you may find it easier to determine the degree and separation modifiers by counting generations:  The first step is to determine the ancestor which your cousin and yourself share. You then count the number of generations you need to climb up your Family Tree to reach this common ancestor and deduct one from the result.  The answer is the degree.  If therefore you need to climb 3 generations to reach your common ancestor then your cousin is a “Second Cousin”. The next step is to count the generations you need to travel from this common ancestor to your cousin and deduct from this the number of generations from yourself to your common cousin.  If therefore you had to climb 3 generations to your common ancestor and then descend 4 generations to reach your cousin that would make them your “Second Cousin Once Removed” (3 – 1 = Second Cousin, 3 – 4 = Once Removed).

Hopefully, after reading all the above explanations you can now see that “Second Cousin” and “Cousin Once Removed” describe completely different kinship: Your “Second Cousin” is a cousin linked to you via one, or both, of your great-grandparents whereas your “Cousin Once Removed” is a grandchild of one of your aunts or uncles (who are linked to you via your grandparents).