Articles on the History of Essex, Researching your Ancestors, and British History

Famous people listed in the 1881 British census?

punch cartoon about the census
Caption: Filling up the census paper. Wife of his bosum. "Upon my word, Mr Peewitt! Is this the way you fill up your census paper? Call yourself the 'Head of the family' - do you - and me a female!"
Image Punch 1851 PD

From Queen Victoria to Bram Stoker.

Researching your family history is enjoyable, but occasionally it's interesting to look at the households of the rich and famous. There are several famous people listed in the 1881 census, here is a selection of some of them which are linked to the transcripts of the census on

Queen Victoria was staying at Windsor Castle with her son Leopold and daughter Beatrice. Also appearing on the orginial census form but not on this transcript extract were the children of her son, Prince Alfred, later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; and as a visitor, Eugénie, Ex-Empress of the French, the widowed wife of Napoleon III.

In residence at 10, Downing Street was the Prime Minster William Gladstone and his wife Catherine.

Winston Churchill was a 6 year old 'scholar' living with his parents at St James's Place, London.

Charles Darwin, naturalist, with his wife and family in Downe House, Downe, Kent, a year before his death.

Charles Darwin in 1868
Charles Drawin in 1868.
Image courtesy of National Media Museum on Flickr. NKCR

Mary Seacole, who became famous in Victorian times for nursing wounded and sick soldiers during the Crimean War. She died in the same year as the census and became forgotten until recent times.

Bram Stoker who wrote the horror story Dracula in 1897. At the time of the census he was theatrical manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London.

Captain Matthew Webb first man to swim the English Channel in 1875. Occupation described as a mariner.

Thomas John Barnado, founder of the famous charity Barnardo's, which provides homes and education for poor children.

Finally, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Here described as a student and lecturer, and lodger in the household of the Archdeacon of Oxford at Christ Church College.

If you are interested in finding anymore then try the 1881 census search page at

To view the orginal census forms you need to go to the National Archives, or to the county record office in relevant area, or join a commercial provider of census returns. These include:

Genes Reunited

Find my past

The Genealogist

For a more detailed explanation of the census, how it was taken, and what it contains, visit our page The Census 1841 - 1911.

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