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West Riding in the 1881 Census

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

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West Riding in 1881

Transport yourself to 19th Century West Riding of Yorkshire using Findmypast's full database of the 1881 Census . Get an insight into the lives of your ancestors in these historical records of the county during the Second Industrial Revolution.

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

West Riding of Yorkshire in 1881 - Trouble at Mill?

There were nearly 2.2 million residents living in West Riding of Yorkshire on the day of the census; representing around 7% of the entire population of the United Kingdom.

Queen Victoria was the reigning monarch, while William Gladstone was the Prime Minister.

The United Kingdom was highly urbanised at this time, with two-thirds of the country living in cities and West Riding was no different. Large towns and cities like Bradford, Leeds and Halifax were the centre of the woollen trade, while Sheffield thrived from steel.

Many of your relatives, both male and female, could have worked in these industrial trades, often suffering tough working conditions.

Find Your Past in West Riding

To search Find My Past’s census return records, 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 millions of residents in West Riding couldn't be easier.

For example, if you have a long-lost family member with the surname Jones who you know lived in the county, just enter Smith in the "Last name" field and Yorkshire (West Riding) 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.

Famous Names From West Riding of Yorkshire

Alongside your ancestors, you may find historically significant figures from the county living among them.

Sheffield is synonymous with the steel industry and in the 1881 census you'll find a key player in its history. Harry Brearley, inventor of Stainless Steel can be found as a young scholar living in the Steel City.

Sheffield FC are the oldest active football team in the world and played a key part in the early days of the world's most loved sport.

John Clegg played for Sheffield, as well as in England's first ever international game. Later he would become president and chairman of both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United as well as the Football Association.

Search Tips

The original documents will have been given to your ancestors some time in advance before collection on April3rd.

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 2,200,000 residents of West Riding in the 1881 Census, so you can find your relations who lived and worked in 19th century Yorkshire (West Riding.).

Old photos and a dictionary seen through a magnifying glass.

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