Early British Census -1086 to 1841

I attended a series of interesting talks by Dr. Colin R Chapman today sponsored by the Alberta Family History Society.  For those who may not know,  Colin Chapman is a well respected UK genealogist with 14 or more genealogical publications and a wealth of knowledge.  One of the talks was “Genealogy in Early British Census – 1086 to 1841”.

It is generally thought that census records started in 1841 but there were literally dozens of censuses prior to that time dating back to the Domesday Survey of 1086. I’ll share here some of my notes from this seminar.
Listings of Censuses sources include (and why collected):
– monarch or government :  Why – to raise money, identifying loyaties, military availability, planning infrastructure

-established church:  Why – money, check attendance, pastoral activities, extending influence

-Manorial Lords: why – to confirm tenancies, recording fines (=fees, rents), until 1920s

-Associations: why – membership records, subscription receipts

– Individuals: why – academic exchange, personal interest, financial award, directories such as Pigot’s etc.

From the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, taxes were levied on land, property, fireplaces and windows, even hairpowder.  The first real census in the British Isles was 1523.

There were loyalty lists, militia lists, muster rolls, lists of voters, church rate payers, communicants and papists, commerical and private directories.  A number of census returns for 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831 show names and other details of individuals.