| The census is a count of all the people in
the United Kingdom and is normally taken every 10 years. The
1901 census was taken on 31 March 1901, and recorded the details
of over 32 million people who were resident in England and
Wales at that time. Since all the details are collected at
the same time, the census provides a snapshot of what life
was like on census night.
the 1901 census
|The 1901 census was the eleventh census of
population. As always, it was taken on a Sunday - traditionally
the day of least population movement. In the run-up to census
night, enumerators visited every house in their area distributing
forms, which each householder was instructed to complete,
recording the details of every person resident on census night.
From the following Monday, the enumerator collected and checked
the forms, asking for details to fill in any obvious gaps
or inconsistencies. The information was then copied into census
enumerator's books, before being sent to the Census Office
For more on the trials and tribulations
of census enumerators, link to the
Parish Records website.
At the Census Office, the information in the books was
checked for accuracy, and clerks extracted different categories
of information - for example, on ages, occupations and birthplaces.
This data was then compiled into tables and used in the
Follow this link to
resources on the census.
What did the 1901 census find?
The population of England and Wales on 1 April 1901 was
recorded as 32,527,813, an increase of over 12% since the
1891 census. The compilers of A Digest of the Results
of the Census noted that 'if all the people in England
and Wales were to pass through London in procession, four
abreast, and every facility was afforded for their free
and uninterrupted passage, during twelve hours daily, Sundays
excepted, it would take four and a half months
length of this column would be 3,788 miles.'
Over 96% of the population was born in England and Wales.
1% was born in Scotland, 1.3 % in Ireland, 0.4% in the British
colonies (as they then were) and about 1% in other foreign
countries. More people were getting married in 1901 than
in 1891, with 259,400 marriages taking place in comparison
to 226,526 ten years earlier.
The 1901 census revealed
that inhabited houses had grown by 15% - to 6,260,852 -
although population had grown by only 12%. The average number
of persons per house also fell slightly, from 5.32 in 1891
to 5.2 in 1901. Population densities were higher in the
towns, where there was an average of 5.4 persons per house,
than in the rural areas, which had an average of 4.6. Devonport,
South Shields, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead showed
the greatest degree of overcrowding (that is, more than
eight persons per house).
Follow this link to housing
Mass unemployment was not a spectre that haunted 1901 Britain.
Over 83% of the total male population and 31% of the total
female population regarded themselves as being 'occupied'.
The majority of these workers were aged between 15 and 75,
but 365,205 under-15s and a staggering 71,362 over-75s were
recorded as being in work.
Follow this link to occupations.
Follow this link to use the
1901 census online.