UK Census 1931 and 1941

Many researchers may well have ancestors who lived in some part of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) in 1931 or 1941. If that ancestor was there in 1921, there will be the full official UK census for that year coming out in 2022. But not so for the 1931 UK census.

On the night of Saturday December 19, 1942, there was a fire at a store in Hayes, Middlesex. The store, the responsibility of the Office of Works, contained a large amount of furniture but in addition it contained the census records for England & Wales plus the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and any overseas returns. For 1931, that is the whole of the schedules, enumeration books and plans. They were all completely destroyed. Scotland’s 1931 census was not affected by this fire since it was stored separately in Edinburgh. That England and Wales census was originally done April 26, 1931 and only Northern Ireland was not included in 1931 but they had a census there in 1926.

Prior to the fire of 1942, a census of the United Kingdom was due to be taken in early 1941 but this never happened because of World War II (1939-1945). With the outbreak of the war, National Identity Cards were issued to every resident in the United Kingdom and the information recorded has been retained, so in a limited way there is a 1939 mini-census, which partially makes up for the lack of a 1941 census for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The National Identity Cards were done Sept. 29, 1939. The main information on the card included name, sex, date of birth, marital status, residence, occupation and if the person was a member of the military. Today a couple paid subscription databases – FindMyPast and Ancestry (especially in England) have those identity cards in search-able digital format. Also you can request a search of the UK National Archives for the 1939 registers and there is a fee.

Photos: People in England in 1931 and UK National Registry Card in 1939.

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UK – Soldiers

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