Oxford History: The Census


Censuses in Oxford

Cartoon about the census

Cartoon from “Punch”

Censuses available to view on Ancestry, etc

The first four censuses of 1801, 1811, 1821, and 1831 were merely statistical


Sunday night on
which census
was taken

Reports about the census
Published in Jackson's Oxford Journal unless stated otherwise


6/7 June 1841

Three reports about the census, which was then an entirely new concept:
(1) Payment of enumerators
(2) Process to be followed, with list of Oxford enumerators
(3) Problems encountered in the City Oxford


30/31 March 1851

Instructions becoming more bureaucratic


7/8 April 1861

Memorandum on some of the objects and uses of the next day's census


2/3 April 1871

Report on the organization of this census in the City of Oxford


3/4 April 1881

Statistical results of the 1881 City of Oxford census
(compared to the city in 1871)


5/6 April 1891

Conduct of the 1891 census in Oxfordshire


31 March/1 April 1901



2/3 April 1911



19 June 1921

This census will contain more detailed information than earlier censuses.
It was taken under the Census Act 1920, and hence cannot be released until 2021.
Online digitized copies will be released in January 1922.

The 1931 census was destroyed in a fire during the Second World War, and no census was taken in 1941

The National Registration of 29 September 1939 helps to cover the twentieth-century gap
and is already available on Ancestry (with names of people likely to be living redacted)

The early censuses were described as an “obtrusive impertinence” by Cuthbert Bede in The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1853):

… but these dates [of birth] we withhold, from a delicate regard to personal feelings, which will be duly appreciated by those who have felt the sacredness of their domestic hearth to be tampered with by the obtrusive impertinences of a census-paper.

© Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 January, 2021

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