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Scotland in the 1881 Census

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

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Scotland in 1881

Discover how your ancestors in late 19th Century Scotland lived with Find My Past’s comprehensive 1881 Census records . Explore Victorian Scotland using historical transcripts displaying a rich seam of information about the era.

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

There were 3,716,924 people living in Scotland on the day of the census; more than a tenth of the population of the UK. 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. Indeed, the locomotive, shipbuilding and metal working industries were all thriving in Scotland in 1881.

Reflecting Scotland’s dockyards’ growing importance SS Servia, the first steel transatlantic liner, built in Clydebank, was launched about a month before the census took place.

At this time, the highly populous Glasgow was known as the “second city of the Empire.” Despite previous cholera epidemics and problems with poverty earlier in the 19th century, Glasgow had made improvements to significantly cut back death rates.

Queen Victoria liked the Scottish Highlands so much, she and her husband Prince Albert bought Balmoral in 1848, meaning that the region became a fashionable travel destination

On 12th March 1881, Scotland beat England 6-1 in a football match, with Andrew Watson captaining the side. The Guyana-born man is widely considered to the first black footballer to play in an international fixture.

Find your Scotland Past

Findmypast’s database has in-depth records from Scotland 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 Scotland is easy.

For example, if you have a long-lost family member with the surname Wilson who you know lived in Scotland, just enter Wilson in the “Last name” field and Scotland in the “Country” 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.

Notable Scottish Names

Among your ancestors in the country, you may spot some hugely influential figures in the history of Scotland.

Scotland was an important part of the history of the Labour Party and this is reflected in the historical records. James Keir Hardie , founder of the party is listed as the secretary of a miner’s union, while James Ramsay MacDonald, who would become the first Labour Prime Minister, can be found as a Farm Servant in Morayshire .

Victorian Scotland also produced some legendary authors. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , author of the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries was a student at University of Edinburgh Medical School at the time of the census

Perhaps one of your relations are boarding in Edinburgh with James Barrie , better known as J M Barrie, author of Peter Pan?

Douglas Haig ,the Field Marshall for Britain in the 1st World War, is also to be found in Edinburgh. At the time, he was an undergraduate at Oxford University

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 more than 3.5 million Scottish citizens in the 1881 Census, we wish you luck in finding those that made the difference at this fascinating time for the country.

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