PRE-1841 CENSUS RETURNS Full census returns date from 1841. However, in some areas, earlier censuses dating from 1801 to 1831 have survived. These usually only list the head of the household and the number of other people living at an address. A full list of surviving English returns can be found at
www.essex.ac.uk/history/ documents/research/ RT2_ Wall_ 2012.pdf.
Sadly, there is no single source of these documents online, so you will usually have to consult local record offices.
ONLINE FAMILY TREES Public family trees, such as those on Ancestry or GenesReunited, provide you with the chance to link up with other – possibly distantly related – family historians. However, it is important that you always cross- check any of their research for accuracy before absorbing it into your own family tree.
TRANSPORTED FOR LIFE Approximately 160,000 Britons were transported overseas as a criminal punishment to colonies that included Australia and Canada – and if your ancestor was one of them there are masses of documents that are online to help track them, such as the Australian Convict Transportation Registers. Try the collection on Ancestry or Convicts to Australia website (