1921 Census Notes

The 1921 census has been available for a few weeks now, so how is it?

Who's included?

Everyone living in England and Wales, the Isle Of Man, the Channel Island. Merchant Navy and fishing vessels in port on the 19 June 1921 or in the following days, along with members of the armed forces no matter where in the world they were stationed (expect Scotland).

Who wasn't included?

Homeless people or those sleeping rough on the census night. People who objected to the census and refused to complete it.

Some people are missing for unknown reasons. My great-grandparents were living with my great-grandmother’s family in 1921. My great-grandmother, grandmother and her sister are on the census along with the rest of the family, apart from my great-grandfather. The number of males who lived in the house was listed as 6 but only 5 are on the return form. There’s no trace of my great-grandfather anywhere else. I assume he was out at work or out with friends, and my great-great-grandfather missed entering him on the form.

What about Scotland and Ireland

Scotland’s 1921 census was also held on the 19th June, but won’t be released until later this year on Scotland’s People. It had been due to be released in 2021, but was delayed.

Ireland did not have a census in 1921 due to the War Of Independence. The first census taken by the Irish Free State was in 1926 and is due to be released to the public in January 2027.

Where is my ancestor's address?

Unlike earlier censuses, the 1921 census returns cover more than one page. The first page contains the details about individual household members, the second page is where you will find the address, along with the name of the person who completed the census. When you purchase an entry, you are automatically taken to the first page. To access the second, click on ‘Open Filmstrip’ in the bottom right corner of the screen, the filmstrip will show you the pages included in your purchase.

Transcripts aren't great

There have been reports on Facebook and genealogy forums of many transcription errors with the census. While there isn’t really a need to purchase the transcript, which costs £2.50 extra, the details in the transcript are used by Find My Past’s search engine. If those details are incorrect, then it makes finding ancestors more difficult.

If you are struggling to find an ancestor in 1921, then widen your search using the advanced search options. You’ll find the link to the advanced search at the bottom of the left-hand pane on the search results page.

  • Place a tick in ‘name variants’ under Last Name.
  • Increase the ‘give or take’ for the birth year and the search radius for the location.
  • Try using wild cards. For example, if you’re looking for surname Higginson, try instead entering Hig*n* (Higginson has been mis-transcribed for as Higgins, Higinson & Higginsons on earlier censuses).
  • Search for the address instead. Take a look at the electoral registers to see where your ancestor was living in the years close to 1921. If they don’t appear on the electoral registers, try the address they lived at in 1911 or 1939.

Can I know it's the correct image before I buy it?

In the search results, if you hover the mouse over the link to the transcript or image, you’ll a pop-up showing the first three names in the household, which may help you narrow down the correct entry before spending any money.

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