The censuses of 1801-1831
Full censuses have been taken in the United Kingdom every ten years since 1801 with the exception of 1941 due to the second world war. In addition to this there was no census taken in Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State in 1921. The first four censuses i.e. from 1801-1831 were statistical with no personal information collected. The first census in 1801 was initially taken to ascertain the number of men in the country that were available to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. An English Government official and statistician by the name of John Rickman is credited with drafting the first bill which was to become the 1800 Census Act. This passed into law in December 1800.
The 1921 Census – next in line for release
The next census which is due to be released is the 1921 Census for England, Wales and Scotland. It was taken on 19 June 1921 and is not due to be released for 100 years. The government’s current position is that it will be released in its entirety in 2022. This census remains in the custody of the Office for National Statistics. There have been various petitions over the years calling for the early release of the uk 1921 census. The most popular petition was the one conducted in early 2007 which reached 23,600 signatures by its final day on 8 March 2007. The government rejected the petition saying that they they needed to respect the privacy of those who originally completed the census and also stand by the assurances given at the time that the information would not be released for 100 years.
The 1921 census will be particularly important – perhaps the most important census completed since 1841 as there is no 1931 census, nor a 1941 census. The 1931 census was destroyed in a fire and there was no 1941 census due to the second world war. So, if the 100 year rule stays in place there will be a 30 year gap from when the 1921 census is released until the 1951 census.