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National Censuses

Census returns are often referred to primarily as a source for family history, but they can of great use when it comes to researching social history or tracing the occupants of a house or neighbourhood. The first national census was taken in 1801 and every ten years thereafter.

Electoral registers

Electoral registers are annually compiled lists of persons entitled to vote within a designated area. They can be useful in locating individuals or studying the composition and development of communities in particular streets and localities.

Poll books

Like early electoral registers, poll books detail those entitled to vote in a defined area at a given period. However, they date from an age when only a very small percentage of men had the right to vote.


Records of national taxation and local rates provide information about communities of the past, those who were taxed and the properties they owned or inhabited. In many cases, taxation records relate to named individuals, helping to place them in a certain place at a certain period.

Rate books

Rating records were generated by local authorities collecting taxation on a local basis. They can give specific details about residents and properties which enables the researcher to build up an image of land use and community structure at a given place and time.

Religious Census 1851

The controversial 1851 Census of Places of Worship records the ‘accommodation and attendance at worship’ across Britain as it stood on 30 March 1851.

Early population lists

In addition to the national census returns, the Archive Service holds some earlier lists of population for specific places in the county.

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