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About the 1841 Census Returns - June 6th -7th 1841  

The 1841 census is hideously complex so this page is worth reading. You have to consider how the census was taken.

In 1837 the county had been divided up into Registration Districts. These were originally called Superintendant Registrar’s Districts. These were further subdivided into Registrar’s Districts. These were further divided down into Parishes—in 1841 these were ecclesiastical parishes, but later they became civil parishes. We have come across some bits of the 1841 where they separated out parts of a parish that were inside a borough and parts that were not. They really didn't know what they were doing. Each parish was divided into Enumerator’s Districts (more than one if it was big enough) and an Enumerator appointed. The EDs were numbered in Registration Districts.

Then the Enumerators went out and distributed their Schedules. These were single pages with some instructions. In 1851 onwards they were numbered but not in 1841. They were supposed to be filled in on the day after the night of the census by the householder. Later they were collected up by the Enumerator (who no doubt, helped some people fill them in). He took them all home and copied them into the Enumerator’s booklet. Some enumerators made a complete mess of this. The booklet had 20, 40 or 60 numbered Pages depending on the size of the area plus the unnumbered leader and trailer pages. These were sent in and were checked, counted and otherwise examined for statistics, usually marking the sheet with a thick stub of a pencil.

When the Enumerator’s booklets were collected up for the Public Record Office they decided to do it by the old feudal Hundred. This Hundred did not necessarily tally with the Superintendent’s RD. They then sorted the parishes into alphabetical order within the Hundred. Then the Enumerators booklets were bound into groups of between 1 and 6 (presumably for the benefit of handling on the shelves) and these are called Books. Each leaf of paper was stamped with Folio numbers at the top right had corner of the right hand page when opened (a folio is a leaf of paper so the number refers to the front and back of that leaf) The numbers were consecutive from one right the way though the book ignoring ED boundaries. Not all the folios survived but the most vulnerable were the first and last of each ED so presumably the books were not bound until quite late. I suppose that a certain number of books would fit onto a shelf, so each shelf was given a Piece number. These piece numbers were also used for the films.

The piece numbers were allocated roughly, but not quite, alphabetically. There are a few odd hundreds which are numbered at the end of the County.

So an example:
HO107—Home office Class 107.
/967 This is the Piece number—now the Film number.
On the film you next find /14 which is the Book number
Folio 4—this is because only the data pages are numbered but the Folio numbers include all the pieces of paper. The first 3 Folios were the introductory stuff. Some of this is quite useful as it describes the ED.
Page 1 - The first page of the actual census information.

In this project we use the ED number because the database was originally based on 1891 which used them more sensibly. However they are not a great deal of use for 1841. We also highlight the Parish name which is much more useful.

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©2006 Somerset Online Census Project (see here for details).
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