The first comprehensive population census of the UK was taken in 1801, and a census has been taken every 10 years since that date except for 1941.

Before 1841 only statistical information was kept. The returns for 1841 onwards record the names, ages and other details of all people resident in this country on the night the census was taken.

The census provides a unique document for family history research as it shows whole family groupings. The census returns are not normally released for public viewing until they are 100 years old. The 1911 census is now available.

Censuses (1841-1911) for England and Wales

The Ancestry website provides access to all English and Welsh censuses from 1841 to 1911. Access is available at Milton Keynes Libraries free of charge (printing charges still apply).

If you'd like help to use the Ancestry website, you can view a detailed Database Guide to using the Ancestry Library Edition. You may also find ProQuest training videos on YouTube helpful.

Buckinghamshire censuses

These are available at Milton Keynes Family History Library. We hold the following census years for Buckinghamshire:

  • 1841-1851 on microfilm
  • 1891, 1901 on microfiche

Useful websites

United Kingdom

  • Family Search - The 1841-1911 censuses for England and Wales and 1841-1891 censuses for Scotland can be viewed here free of charge. The website does not currently provide access to digital images of the census.
  • FreeCen - A project to make all the UK censuses freely available online. As the work is being undertaken by volunteers the website is not complete but it can be a useful tool.
  • FindMyPast


  • Scotland's People - The Scottish censuses for 1841-1911 can be searched at this pay per view site.


  • Guide to finding Irish Census records - The majority of census records for Ireland have been destroyed, and only fragments survive.  This website provides a guide to locating the surviving records.
  • National Archive - The 1901 and 1911 census records are fully searchable and FREE.

Milton Keynes Libraries contact information

Milton Keynes Central Library, 555 Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9 3HL