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Lancashire in the 1881 Census

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

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Lancashire in 1881

The 1881 Lancashire Census collected the following information: full name, exact age, relationship to head of household, gender, occupation, parish and county of birth, medical disabilities.

On the night of the census, there were more than 3 million people living in the county of Lancashire, as the border stood then.

Thanks to the industrial revolution, in which Lancashire was instrumental, the populace continued to grow throughout the 19th century and the country played a major role in British economics and therefore the world.

The dominant industry in 1881 Lancashire was the textile industry, employing around 5% of the entire British populace. The city of Manchester was the centre of the booming cotton business and even became known as “Cottonopolis”! Both your male and female ancestors could have worked in these mills.

Immigrants from all corners of the world flocked to Manchester and Lancashire, seeking work, making this a very multi-cultural part of Britain at the end of the 19th century.

Of course the industries and growing populace demanded development in infrastructure and people employed by the railways also increased a lot. Horse-drawn trams were introduced in Manchester during the year of the census, only to be replaced a mere 20 years later by electric trams.

Indeed, Lancashire had become a relatively prosperous place, meaning workers could enjoy varied food and leisure trips, including to watch the recently founded Preston North End or Blackburn Rovers football clubs.

Lancashire was also at the forefront of maritime industry, with Liverpool the most important port and home to both the Cunard and White Star Lines. A mere month before the 1881 census, the SS Servia – considered the first modern ocean liner – started making transatlantic journeys between Liverpool and New York.

Find Your Lancashire Past

Whether you are searching for your ancestors or researching local history, Findmypast has extensive records from the county in 1881, ,so you can be sure to find the piece of the past that matters to you.

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

With options to search by name, location, birth place, birth year, location and so much more, filtering out the millions of Lancastrians is as easy as clicking a button.

For example, if you have a relative with the surname Smith who you know lived in the county, just enter Smith in the “Last name” field and Lancashire 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 Lancashire

While searching for your ancestors in Victorian Lancashire, you may come across a few illustrious names.

While the majority of the population was cotton factory workers, over 8% of Lancastrian females were working as indoor domestic servants. Perhaps your ancestors were working in one of the homes of Henry Tate , the famous sugar baron?

Or maybe they were one of the two female servants recorded as living in the Lancaster house of leader of the women’s suffrage movement Emmeline Pankhurst ,whose occupation was listed simply as “Wife”?

Maybe your ancestors lived on the same street as future serial killer Mary Ann Britland ,convicted of murdering her daughter and husband just 5 years after the census.

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 3,483,571 Lancastrians waiting for you in the 1881 Census, we wish you the best of luck in your search for the ones that have contributed to your family history!

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