History Scotland

Family history

Release of the 1921 census


One of the resources that family historians particular­ly look forward is the release of the historic census data. This year will see the release of the 1921 census data. Due to industrial action by coal miners and railway workers in the spring of 1921, the date of the census was postponed to 19 June. In 2020, the Scottish Government took the decision to postpone the 2021 census to 2022 and these are the only census years the census date has been changed.

Prior to the 1921 census, a government act had to be brought into legislatio­n every time a census was to be held.The 1920 Census Act brought into force permanent legislatio­n regarding the holding of the census every tenth year.The act allowed for the questions asked in each census to be changed if necessary and included provision for different questions to be asked in the English/Welsh and Scottish censuses.

The 1911 census contain questions about the number of children born to a couple and whether they were alive or deceased. Unfortunat­ely these questions do not appear in the 1921 census. The other set of questions removed concerned infirmitie­s, as it was recognised that people did not always answer such questions truthfully.

What informatio­n is included?

So what difference­s will you notice? The age on the 1921 census is shown in years and completed months, which should help with working out an accurate year of birth. If an individual was aged over fifteen they were asked whether they were single, married or divorced. If under fifteen, the person was asked whether one or both parents were deceased. If it was completed correctly by the ancestor in question, this question could help identify whether the father had perhaps died as a result of war service.

Also included is informatio­n on whether the person was attending school or another educationa­l establishm­ent. Trade/employer

– and in England & Wales place of employment (employer’s address except when living at their employer’s address) – were also included for the first time. For Scotland, the place of employment was replaced by asking whether an individual was entitled to benefits under the National Insurance (Health) Acts. Those out of work were instructed to give their last employer’s name and add the words ‘out of work’. The number and ages of living children or stepchildr­en under sixteen also had to be shown.

Release details

The Scottish census should be released in June 2021 and will only be available through www. scotlandsp­eople.gov.uk. For England and Wales it will be released in early 2022 on the commercial site www.findmypast.co.uk. Between 1920 and 1930, it is estimated that around 400,000 Scots emigrated, so this may be the last time when you will find your ancestor on a Scottish census. The English and Welsh census data sets will also contain military overseas bases for both Army and Royal Air Force, Royal Navy vessels and merchant ships in English and Welsh waters.The Scottish census should have the same informatio­n for vessels in Scottish waters.

Ken Nisbet is secretary of the Scottish Genealogy Society and of the Scottish Associatio­n of Family History Societies and is on the user group for the Family History Centre in Edinburgh. He is a regular lecturer to Scotland’s family history societies. He has written a number of books, all of which are published by the Scottish Genealogy Society, and tutors some of the classes the society runs.

 ??  ?? In just a few weeks’ time we should be able to search for our ancestors on the 1921 census for Scotland
In just a few weeks’ time we should be able to search for our ancestors on the 1921 census for Scotland
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