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Sussex in the 1881 Census

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

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Sussex in 1881

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

There were 494,208 residents living in Sussex 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.

Sussex had become a big key tourist destination in Britain. The promenades and piers allowed people to walk and breathe the sea air, which was believed to be healthy and a cure for respiratory illnesses

Brighton, Worthing, Hastings and Eastbourne all had piers by 1881, attracting those from London and beyond.

There was still a high amount of fishing activity in Sussex, in fact 1,473 people are listed as fishermen/women. 14% of the Sussex female population were employed as indoor domestic servants. Over five times as many females were domestic servants as males.

Sussex County Cricket Club, formed in 1839, is the oldest of the 18 first class cricket clubs in England. They had been playing at the County Cricket Ground on Eaton Road since 1872, where they play still today.

Find your Sussex Past

Find My Past has in-depth records from Sussex 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 Sussex is simple.

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

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.

Famous Names From Sussex

Time Travellers might spot the odd familiar face in the crowd of thousands during their search.

For instance, famous author H.G.Wells ,author of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds can be found as a scholar boarding in Midhurst with the Byatt family.

Sussex’s proud association with cricket is reflected in the 1881 census. Among others, you can find James Lillywhite ,the first ever captain of England in a test match. He’s one of just two people who listed their occupation as “Cricketer,” during this national survey.

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 half a million Sussex residents in the 1881 Census, so we wish you all the best in your search for the family members who made the difference at this fascinating time for Sussex!

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