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Kent in the 1881 Census

Search for your ancestors in Kent in the 1881 Census and discover a detailed snapshot of their life at the time.

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Kent in 1881

Taken on 3rd April 1881, the census collected the following information from Kent: full name, exact age, relationship to head of household, gender, occupation, parish and county of birth, medical disabilities.

There were 994,225 residents living in Kent on the day of the census; with nearly 30 million living in the UK. Queen Victoria was the reigning monarch, while William Gladstone was the Prime Minister.

The United Kingdom was highly urbanised at this time, with two-thirds of the country living in cities.

Kent dominated the ale brewing industry and many seasonal workers would come to work in Kent as “hoppers” - those who pick hops. Life would have been tough for any ancestor in this industry. They may have suffered squalid and overcrowded living conditions, while facing prejudice and discrimination from local people.

Kent was also a popular seaside holiday destination. owing to improving transport links like the railway. Easily reachable from London, the resorts of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs were particularly popular and retain this legacy today.

Find Your Kentish Past

Findmypast has in-depth records from Kent in 1881 so you can explore your family history with ease.

To search the census returns, just input the information you have about your relatives into our search form and hit search.

With options to search by name, location, birth place, birth year, location and more, filtering out the thousands of residents of Kent is simple.

For example, if you have a long-lost family member with the surname Taylor who you know lived in the county, just enter Taylor in the “Last name” field and Kent in the “County” field and you’ll get these search results. .

Using the transcripts of the census provided, members can then inspect the original images of the census enumeration books, which will help validate findings and expand family trees.

Notable Names From Kent

Along with your ancestors, you might find some surprising names hidden in Find My Past’s records.

For example, Charles Darwin ,whose theories on evolution changed scientific thought forever, can be found living in Bromley, which was part of the county of Kent in 1881.

Likewise Edith Bland ,better known as E. Nesbit who wrote famous children’s stories such as The Railway Children and Five Children and It, is in another London borough formerly in Kent. Perhaps a relation was one of two servants living with her mother and son in Lewisham.

Meanwhile, maybe a family member went to school with Mary Tourtel ,listed as a 7 year old Mary Caldwell living in Blean near Canterbury in the 1881 census. She was to become the illustrator who created much loved children’s comic strip character Rupert Bear.

Search Tips

The original documents will have been given to your ancestors some time in advance before collection on April 3rd.

As illiteracy was still common, third party “enumerators” will have written on many people’s behalf, which could lead to some errors in the transcripts. This makes it of vital importance to check the original images.

Beware other inaccuracies such as wrong birth dates. Our search function allows a margin of error of two years, you can adjust this further if you wish.

There are nearly 1 million Kentish residents in the 1881 Census, so what are you waiting for? Dig in to our records to see the family members who did amazing things in this unique period in history!

Search Kent by surname