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Somerset in the 1881 Census

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

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Somerset in 1881

Look into the lives of your Victorian ancestors in Somerset using Find My Past’s full database of the 1881 Census . Reveal Somerset as it was in the late 19th Century with historical records of the county.

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

There were nearly half a million residents living in Somerset 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.

1881 was a time of momentous change in the county. New turnpike roads had recently been built, as well as canals and railways. Farm machinery could now be brought in more easily, and so could new breeds of animals. Farm production therefore began to grow and export markets established.

Your ancestors were by no means restricted to agriculture. There were brick and tile works at Bridgwater, glassworks at Nailsea, and elsewhere there was production of leather, canvas, ironware and woollen goods.

The drive to improve public health, brought piped water and sewage systems to Somerset towns and reservoirs were built to provide a continuous water supply, for instance at Taunton in 1878. At the end of 1880, Bath got its first ever horse-drawn tramway service, which would later become electric.

These improvements meant life had been considerably improved for the citizens of Somerset from the early 19th Century.

Find Your Somerset Past

Findmypast’s database has in-depth records from Somerset in 1881 so you can uncover your family secrets 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 through the many residents of Somerset is easy.

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

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 Somerset

Among your family finds, you may discover the great and the good in Somerset.

Margaret Bondfield , a key part of the women’s suffragette movement and the first ever female cabinet member of the UK government, can be found as an eight year old scholar in Chard.

Continuing on the political theme, Ernest Bevin had been born in Winsford weeks before the census took place. He would grow up to be general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, a Labour MP and the Foreign Secretary, where he aided in the creation of NATO after the Second World War

Explorer and archaeological artist Adela Breton is seen in Bath as a 31 year old who was caring for her elderly relatives. After her father died in 1887, she would explore Mexico and make watercolour copies of the walls of temples in the country. Her most notable was of the Upper Temple of Jaguars in Chichen Itza.

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.

With 489,381 Somerset citizens waiting for you in the 1881 Census, the opportunity is there to unveil the long-lost relatives from Victorian Somerset!

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