Bedale 19th and 20th Century Painters and Decorators

Bucktrout & Firth Families - Census Returns

The Painting & Decorating Business of Bucktrout & Firth


You are now going to examine census returns and photographs which give you a fuller picture of the partners and their families.


Census return


You are going to examine the Census returns to find out more about the Bucktrout and Firth families.


If you have difficulty reading the documents, go to the worksheet resource page where you will find transcripts of each of the documents to download.


Census returns contain lots of interesting information. You can find out which area of a town a family lived, what their jobs or occupations were, how many people were in one family, whether or not they had servants or other people working for them, where they were born and how old they were at the time of the census.

You could compare all this information to how people live today and get some idea of how a town has changed and how it has stayed the same – do this by looking at the occupation columns in the census and comparing it to the types of shops and occupations of the people who live in the town today.

Find out what your friend’s families and those of other people in you class do for a living. Have jobs in the town changed a lot form the time of the Bucktrout and Firth families? Are families more mobile now compared to the late 19th century? (Look at the 'Where Born' column to find out.)

The census forms are fairly standard in layout, but differ slightly between 1841 – the first official census – and 1891 when you will see from the images of the original documents that there have been columns added. We are not going to use the information in these extra columns as they do not help us develop the history of the Bucktrout and Firth families.

Each of the Census returns has been transcribed. However, there may be some omissions in the entries as the handwriting is illegible or the entry has been scored through by the enumerator when they have been tallying up the numbers in various columns.

The columns you need to get information from are:

Road or Street
– to see which area of the town the family lived in.

Name and Surname of person – this will tell you not only the names but also how many people in the household were family members, how many servants the family had and, in some cases, how many people the Head of the family employed if he/she was in business.

Age – this can be tricky. Sometimes if you have two consecutive census returns you would expect to find a person who stated their age as 20 in the 1851 census to be 30 in the 1861 census. This is not always the case as some people were unsure of their date of birth, so sometimes they will be older or younger than you expect! The person who recorded the information had no idea what age the person gave on the last census, and can only record what the person tells them.

Profession/Occupation/Rank – this tells you what jobs various people had in the last half of the 19th century. Sometimes this may be annuitant or gentleman/gentlewoman, these “occupations” normally meant that they had their own income and in later census returns you will see the words “Living on own means” in this column.

Where Born – this column can give you an idea of where the family originated. Also if you look at the birthplaces of the children you can see if the family moved around or stayed in the same place. You could then come up with reasons why you think the family moved from place to place.

By looking through the census returns you will find that you can learn far more about the Bucktrout and Firth families and their neighbours than you expected.

Document icon Learning article provided by: North Yorkshire County Record Office | 
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