Content associated with: Observations and enumeration abstract, 1811    Page 502

Census of Scotland, 1811

Matthew Woollard

Like its predecessor the Census Act, 1811 (51 Geo. III c.6) was entitled "An Act for taking an Account of the Population of Great Britain, and of the Increase or Diminution thereof" and was passed in March 1811.

The administrative procedures laid down for the 1811 census in Scotland were similar to those in its predecessor: the sheriff deputes and stewart deputes were to nominate and appoint the enumerators for each parish, who would either be the schoolmaster or another suitable person, and deliver to them copies of the schedule. The schoolmaster was then to carry out his account of the population on 27 May 1811, and when completed to give "the same to the Minister of the Parish for his Correction and Approbation, and for any Observations which he may think fit to write thereupon". During the month of June, the schoolmaster was supposed to meet with the relevant depute and pass over the returns which were in turn supposed to be sent to the Secretary of State in London by 1 August. Depending on when the depute had arranged to meet with the schoolmaster the census may have been taken over a number of days. For the hastiest deputes the enumerators would have had five clear days in order to make his enumeration. The Act also authorised the deputes and provosts to compensate the schoolmasters from the Land Tax funds.

The questions asked by the authorities were identical to those in England and Wales (see Census of England and Wales, 1811). However the questions relating to information to be extracted from the parish registers was omitted from the Scottish schedule published with the act of parliament because, no doubt, of the very poor response elicited in the previous census.

The results published in the enumeration abstract cover the number of houses (inhabited, building, uninhabited) and how many families occupied them. The responses to the occupational questions were published under the headings 'families chiefly employed in agriculture', 'families chiefly employed in trade, manufactures, and handicraft' and 'all other families not comprised in the two preceding classes'. The returns were completed with the numbers of males and females, for each parish.


Census of Great Britain, 1811, Abstract of the answers and returns made pursuant to an Act, passed in the fifty-first year of His Majesty King George III. intituled "An act for taking an account of the population of Great Britain, and of the increase or diminution thereof". Preliminary observations. Enumeration abstract, BPP 1812 XI (316). [View this document: Observations and enumeration abstract, 1811]

G. Gilchrist, ed., Annan parish censuses, 1801–1821 (Edinburgh, 1975).

C. Sinclair, Jock Tamson's Bairns. A history of the records of the General Register Office for Scotland (Edinburgh, 2000).