Find My Past News


The 1851 census is nearing its completion and we're thrilled to be able to offer you news of 10 new counties which we've added.

To provide a little flavour of what life was like for your ancestors in 1851, we've done a little digging into the records for Yorkshire. While young ladies like Charlotte Brontë were flitting around writing novels, most citizens lived with an industrial backdrop with nothing but a loom for company. Tough times.

We've also got details of an intriguing family history event and a plea for your research stories - to be featured in a national magazine no less.

  Sample 1881 census image
10 new 1851 census counties launched

We’ve added 10 complete counties to the 1851 census. These newly-transcribed records give you the chance to search for those ancestors you can’t find on other versions of the census. And all the ancestors you’ve already discovered can be viewed again on our new high-quality images – probably the clearest and most faithful online reproductions available. The newly added counties are:  

  • Kent
  • Shropshire
  • Staffordshire
  • Cornwall
  • Lincolnshire
  • Leicestershire
  • Westmorland
  • Middlesex
  • Hampshire
  • Surrey

Discover your ancestor's precise age

1851 was the first census to reveal the precise age of each householder – on the 1841 census everyone over 15 had their age rounded down. This ‘rounding down’ policy has proven a perpetual source of frustration for family historians. If an ancestor was alive in 1851 but had perished by 1861, our new records could well be the only way you’ll track down their birth record. However, it is worth bearing in mind that some heads of household made mistakes when recording ages.  

Find your forebears on our high-quality 1851 census images


Charlotte Brontë in 1851

Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre and the eldest of the famous Brontë sisters, was living in Haworth in Yorkshire in 1851. The head of the household was her father Patrick, a curate. There were two servants and one visitor at the house on census night (click image to enlarge):

1851 census showing the Bronte family

By this time Charlotte Brontë had published her first two novels, Jane Eyre and Shirley, yet curiously her occupation on the census return is recorded as ‘none’. Both novels, however, had been published under the pen-name ‘Currer Bell’, as Brontë feared that revealing her gender would adversely affect the success of her work. So it seems her occupation was noted in this way to protect her identity as a writer.


Industrial Yorkshire

Charlotte Brontë was by no means a typical nineteenth-century resident of Haworth. The West Riding of Yorkshire was one of the most important manufacturing areas in Britain during the industrial revolution, and this district of Bradford was renowned for its wool industry. If your ancestors lived in the area in 1851, it’s quite likely they’d have worked in either the textile industry or in one of the other key industries of the day, such as iron or coal.

The following census return from the Brontës’ village of Haworth gives a good idea of some of the roles its residents held. Two power-loom weavers, an ironmonger, and a tin and iron plate worker are all found on the page: 

Haworth residents in 1851

Tell your family history story in a national magazine

Experienced journalist and author Elizabeth Udall is looking for fascinating family history tales to feature in an article for a national UK magazine. If you’ve unearthed an interesting or unusual family history story during your research, she would love to hear from you.

Perhaps you’ve discovered a dark secret, found out your ancestor was a significant or well-known figure in times gone by, or even revealed a tale of love or romance against the odds.   

Send your fascinating family history finds to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the chance to have your story featured.

Come to the fair will be exhibiting at the West Surrey Family History Fair, which takes place at the Leisure Centre, Woking, on Saturday 31 October.

Entrance and parking are free and there’ll be experts from 25 local family history societies attending, as well as the ever popular Census Detectives and representatives from the Society of Genealogists. Plus there’ll be lots of other stands offering books, charts and other genealogy supplies, so you can stock up now ready for winter.

On the stand we’ll offer a 10% discount on our basic Explorer subscription. You’ll also have the chance to win one of three annual basic Explorer subscriptions to – so be sure to enter the prize draw at our stand.

Also on offer will be our popular starter packs, which include a CD-ROM of step-by-step tutorials, vouchers for and, as well as a 10% discount off credits for both sites. Our £9.99 pack comes with £10 worth of credits and the £19.99 pack includes £25 of credits.

More details are available on the show's website.

We hope to see you there. 

Send us your old photos

We’re looking for old photos for our marketing campaigns. If you have any Victorian or early twentieth century photos depicting the following, and you would be happy to let us use them in our advertisements and other marketing materials, please email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

  • Football teams
  • Soldiers
  • Occupations
  • Brides and grooms
  • VE Day celebrations or street parties

If we decide to use your photo in one of our campaigns, we’ll contact you to let you know and we’ll also add 50 credits to your account as a thank you.

Best of luck with your research,

The team