1851 British Census 2% sample—Cornwall

Introduction and acknowlegements

These transcripts are from the 2% sample of the British 1851 census, transcribed by a team under Professor Michael Anderson at Edinburgh. Anderson's team transcribed every 50th census book in England, Wales and Scotland so parishes that were split between census books are not fully covered. This is certainly true in the case of Cornwall

Contributers, collectors and collators en-route include Prof. Michael Anderson, the Economic and Social Research Council, the ESRC Data Archive at Essex University, Gordon Grant, Rosemary Lockie, Alan Stanier, Eilidh Garrett, Ron Macrae and Gren Strickland (from whom most of the .arj files were downloaded). This data is presented here with many thanks to these people, without whom it would not have been created or preserved.

The ".arj" format is the commonly distributed form and it creates a few problems for modern readers as the format is unfamiliar. This conversion was prompted by the members of CORNISH-L in August 2000. The files used were mostly dated 9 Feb 1993 and, in addition to de-compression, have been slighly corrected for format and the decimal ages have been translated back to months/weeks/days as appropriate. The "/" (slash) separated form has been converted to the more common CSV comma separated form.

Other counties, and Cornwall in the original format, can be downloaded from Gren Strickland's site (it is no longer there—13 Mar 2003) though researchers should be aware that the many different locations of the archive contain different combinations of the files. I don't know of the locations of any others now

Beware: From a cursory inspection of the data, it varies from other sources available—it is essential that the original source is checked.

The files

If anyone can fill in the missing references above (or provide more transcribed files!!!) please email me.

How to read the data

All the data is in the order of the census book i.e. "as-enumerated". Most of the fields are in capital letters as is consistant with the age of the transcript! It is presented in CSV (comma separated values) format due to the unpredicatable line lengths. This can be readily cut and pasted into a file accepted by most spreadsheet and database programs. Each file consists of five types of record

A header which specifies the parish. The "-letter" can be ignored, it indicated the source of the data to someone earlier in the chain.
A header containing the census year.
The household identification. This has fields
  1. Z
  2. A number not meaningful to us.
  3. The household number within the enumeration book.
  4. The address information given in the enumeration book.
  5. Any other notes provided.
Person record. This has fields
  1. J
  2. Christian names.
  3. Surname.
  4. Relation to head of household.
  5. Marital status.
  6. Age if male.
  7. Age if female (one of these fields should be blank!)
  8. Occupation.
  9. Place of birth—county coded to BS6879:1987 (almost the same as Chapman County Coding.)
  10. Parish of birth.
  11. Country of birth if not England and other notes.
  12. Deaf, Dumb or Blind.
Ends the household group.


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