Use of resources and advice is free but we appreciate donations which help us to purchase more resources.  Non-members are welcome - just walk in and sign our visitors book.  You can also buy a range of books, fiche, CD's and we provide free access to the Ancestry, Findmypast and the UK National Newspaper Archive websites.

When visiting our Research Room, follow the signs to the Bristol Archives when you walk into the Create Centre.  Our room is in front of you as you walk into the Archives Exhibition area.  If you miss us and end up in the Archives search room, do not sign in but tell them that you are going to the Bristol & Avon FHS Research Room and you will be given directions.  Please do NOT use the Archives lockers but take your belongings into our Research Room with you.  You may use your mobile phone or digital camera to take copies of documents etc. in our Research Room for personal use without charge.

This section of the website is a virtual extension of our research room.  The left side menu takes you to a variety of 'on line' resources and to see what books, fiche CDs and other records we have physically available for you to explore in our Research Room, please use the Library catalogue.

Our Research Room is at the

Bristol Archives,
'B' Bond Warehouse,
Smeaton Road,
BS1 6XN.

Opening Times

10am - 1pm

1pm - 4pm

Saturdays - first two of each month
10am - 1pm


Public Transport to Bristol Archives

Any bus from the bus station that goes via Hotwells / Merchants Road. Full details can be found on the First Bus website.

Hotwells is also served by buses on the Park and Ride service from Long Ashton and the Portway. These services run about every twelve minutes. 

There is a bus stop on the bus-only road which crosses the 'Ashton Swing Bridge' adjacent to 'B' Bond.  The stop is served by the M2 metrobus which connects with Temple Meads, Cabot Circus and the Centre.  Concessionary tickets are accepted on the Metrobus or you can use one of the other methods of paying in advance for your travel, including card purchase at the machine by the bus stop. 

'B' Bond is also now served by the Airport Flyer but this has other ticketing arrangements and concessionary passes are not accepted.

Another alternative is the Bristol Ferry Service - you can catch it from Temple Meads Station and get off at the Nova Scotia pub which is about five minutes walk from Bristol Archives - timetable

It is important to check that these details are still correct before you travel, however, as routes and timetable do change on a regular basis.

These two indexes are designed to help you find articles and references to family names in the Bristol & Avon Family History Society Journal since its first edition in Autumn 1975.

Use the first index to look for family names.  Each entry gives the Journal number, issue date and the page number.  In addition, the ‘type’ field gives you an idea of the section of the Journal e.g. ‘help wanted’ or ‘Where do I go from Here?’ (WDIGFH) and a name with ‘AI’ next to it indicates that the journal entry includes additional information but note that this could be just a small amount – or much more!

If names in articles were deliberately changed for some reason by the original author then these names have been excluded for the index.

Journals Index of Family Names

Use the second index to look for article titles or subject matter.  Each entry lists the title or a description of the article content, the name of the author, the journal number, issue date and page number.  The ‘type’ field tells you if the entry refers to an article, a review or an internet reference.

Note that Web sites referred to in the ‘On the Internet’ series were current when the articles were originally written but may no longer be available.

Journals Index of Article Titles

There is a complete set of the Journals in our Research Room at the Bristol Record Office.

Search Members Interests Index

Help Contents

1. Submitting Names

2. Using the Database

3. Chapman Codes and Time Period Codes

4. Making Contact

5. Corrections and Additions

6. Deleting your Entry

7. Table of Chapman Codes

8. Table of B&AFHS Date Codes


Submitting Names

Submit your surname interests using the form you can download and print from our website downloads page: .  It is important that you use this form initially and follow the instructions for completing, signing, dating and posting it giving your permission for us to publish your personal data.  On the form you are requested to indicate whether or not you want just your email address to be shown and if you want your postal address to be shown - you may opt for either or both.  You can also provide a link to your own website if you have one.

Using the Database

Type the surname of interest into the search box, click the search button and any matches will be listed. To find the member's contact details, click on the membership number in the righthand column (mem.#).  You will also be given the option to see all that members interests to see if you have any more names in common.  To return to the contact details, simply click on the membership number (mem.#) again.

Chapman County Codes and Time Period Codes

Rather than spell out names and dates in full, we have used the standard Chapman County Codes, and our own system of codes to show dates.

Guidelines for Making Contact

First contact should normally be by e-mail or post (enclosing a stamped addressed envelope).  Only make first contact by telephone if someone has specifically given a phone number on their personal page.

The idea is to exchange information. Do not expect other people to pass on the results of several years research immediately. Tell them what you already know, and what you are trying to find out.  Many contacts will be dead ends, but others will be very fruitful. Many experienced members are very pleased to share their work - be sure to thank them and acknowledge sources if you subsequently use the information in your records.

Do not expect people to reply immediately. They may be away from home, or busy with other things.  It may take them some time to assemble the information they want to send you. Also please note that some email links and addresses on the pages will be out-of-date - we rely upon members to notify the Society of amendments (see below).

Corrections and Additions

Please email details of changes, additions or corrections to Members Interests, remembering to include your name and membership number and full details of the changes you would like us to make.

You can download and print a blank members interests form here so that you can submit a completely new entry. Return it by post to the address shown on the form or scan it and email to Members Interests. Your submission will be acknowledged.

Only paid-up members of the Society can have their interests listed.

Deleting your Entry

Please send an e-mail to Members Interests, for a quick response; alternatively please write to the Webmaster : your data will be deleted as soon as possible after your request is received. If you do not renew your membership, then your interests page may not be deleted for up to six months.

Chapman County Codes


England ENG        
BDF Bedfordshire BKM Buckinghamshire BRK Berkshire
BST Bristol CAM Cambridgeshire CHS Cheshire
CON Cornwall CUL Cumberland DBY Derbyshire
DEV Devon DOR Dorset DUR Durham
ERY Yorkshire East Riding ESS Essex GLS Gloucestershire
HAM Hampshire HEF Herefordshire HRT Hertfordshire
HUN Huntingdonshire IOM Isle of Man IOW Isle of Wight
KEN Kent LAN Lancashire LEI Leicestershire
LIN Lincolnshire LND London MDX Middlesex
NBL Northumberland NFK Norfolk NRY Yorkshire North Riding
NTH Northamptonshire NTT Nottinghamshire OXF Oxfordshire
RUT Rutland SAL Shropshire SFK Suffolk
SOM Somerset SRY Surrey SSX Sussex
STS Staffordshire WAR Warwickshire WES Westmoreland
WIL Wiltshire WOR Worcestershire WRY Yorkshire West Riding
YKS Yorkshire        
Wales WLS        
AGY Anglesey BRE Brecknock CAE Caernarvonshire
CGN Cardiganshire CMN Carmarthenshire DEN Denbighshire
FLN Flintshire GLA Glamorgan MER Merioneth
MGY Montgomeryshire MON Monmouthshire PEM Pembrokeshire
RAD Radnor        
Other Countries        
AUS Australia CAN Canada IRL Ireland
NRL Northern Ireland NZ New Zealand SCT Scotland
USA United States of America        

Time Period Codes

a = pre -1599 b = 1600 - 1699 c = 1700 - 1799 d = 1800 - 1899 e = 1900 -present

The 1911 census was taken on Sunday 2nd April 1911. It is only available online and is presented in a quite different format from that of previous censuses. Previously, the enumerators, books have been retained and published, and these are transcriptions from the original household sheets. With the 1911 census, the household sheets themselves have survived as well as various summary documents. This means that we can see what our ancestors actually wrote, and presumably means greater accuracy. It also means that there are many more documents.

Although the census is usually published after one hundred years, the 1911 census was made available earlier following a challenge under the Freedom of Information Act. However, sensitive information about disability has been embargoed until 2012. The 1911 Census for Scotland will not be published until 2012.

Household Images

Household Page
The principal page of the census contains information about a single household. The full address of the household may be shown at the bottom of the page, along with the signature of the householder, or you may find it on the address page. The columns of the household page are as follows:

  1. Name and surname of every person , whether member of family, visitor or servant  who (1) Passed the night of Sunday April 2nd 1991 at this dwelling and was alive at midnight (2) Arrived at this dwelling on the morning of Monday April 3rd , not having been enumerated elsewhere. No one else must be included.
  2. Relationship to head of family.
  3. Age (last birthday) and sex.
  4. Particulars as to marriage. (1) Single, married, widower or widow of all persons aged 15 years and upwards (2)For each married woman - completed years the present marriage has lasted, total children born alive, children still living, children who have died.
  5. Profession or occupation of persons aged 10 years and upwards. (1) Personal occupation (2) Industry or service with which person is connected (3) Whether employer, employee or working on own account (4) Whether working at home
  6. Birthplace of every person
  7. Nationality of every person born in a foreign country
  8. Infirmity

The numbers written alongside the profession or occupation were written by the census enumerator and are the code taken from the Standard Occupational Classification. This is used by all government surveys.

Address Page
This is the reverse of the household page and the information identifies the Registration District, Registration Sub-district and Enumeration District, the name of the head of family, and the postal address. The address page may give a fuller address than appears on the household page.

Cover Page
This shows the names of the Registration District, Registration Sub-district and Enumeration District and also the civil parish, ecclesiastical parish, borough or urban district, ward of borough or urban district, rural district and parliamentary borough or division.

Enumerator's Book Images

Lists all the households in the section of the enumeration district.

Has no information unavailable elsewhere.

Gives Registration District, Registration Sub-district and Enumeration District and name of enumerator.

Contains statistical totals of persons enumerated in the enumeration district.

Describes the enumeration district in terms of its boundaries and the the streets covered.

Are you just about to search for details of great-grandfather John?  Have you been looking for great-great-grandmother Mary for years? Why not try our Avon Monumental Inscriptions Index.

All Avon church and churchyard memorial inscriptions have been recorded, together with known nonconformists and some cemeteries.  The entries are in surname order within the parishes and cemeteries. The records also include some burial register entries for Holy Souls Catholic Cemetery at Arnos Vale, Broadmead Baptists and 18th century affidavits for burial in woollen shrouds.

The index was compiled by Society members, mainly Ron Lewin, over many years.  A copy of the full data is available on microfiche at the Bristol Records Office, and also at Society of Genealogists in London and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

At our Research Room, you will find a hard copy finding-aid which will help you locate the right churchyard or cemetery for the surname you want.  We also now have a full a-z index of surnames and forenames available on the computers located in the Research Room at 'B' Bond.

You can also have a search made for you by either:

1.) Writing to:

Peter Newley

36 Downs Park East
Westbury Park
BS6 7QD    please include a stamped self addressed envelope


2.) Emailing: Monumental Inscription Enquiry

While there are no set charges, we suggest a donation relative to the value to you of the information given.

The 1901 census was taken on the night of Sunday 31st March 1901 and is very similar in layout to the 1891 census.

The columns in the 1901 census are as follows:

  1. Number of schedule
  2. Road, street, etc and number or name of house
  3. Houses – 1. Inhabited 2. Uninhabited - in occupation or not in occupation 3. Building
  4. Number of rooms occupied if less than five
  5. Name and surname of each person
  6. Relation to head of family
  7. Condition as to marriage
  8. Age last birthday of males/females
  9. Profession or occupation
  10. Employer, worker or own account
  11. If working at home
  12. Where born
  13. Whether 1.Deaf and dumb, 2. Blind,  3.Lunatic 4.imbecile or feeble minded


The 1901 census was the first census to be made available online, and can be searched at the sites listed at Census Notes. It is also available on microfiche at some libraries and record offices.

If you find a relative living in an institution, you can check the location and type of institution it was at this useful site by Jeff Knaggs

The 1891 census was carried out on the night of Sunday 5th April 1891 and is very similar in layout to the 1881 census.

The columns in the 1891 census are as follows:

  1. Number of schedule
  2. Road, street, etc and number or name of house
  3. Houses – inhabited or uninhabited (U) or building (B)
  4. Number of rooms occupied if less than five
  5. Name and surname of each person
  6. Relation to head of family
  7. Condition as to marriage
  8. Age last birthday of males/females
  9. Profession or occupation
  10. Where born
  11. Whether 1.Deaf and dumb, 2. Blind,  3.Lunatic, imbecile or idiot.

The 1891 census is available online at the websites listed on the Census page. It was also indexed by Bristol & Avon FHS volunteers, and this index is available on CD. Further details are available at Shop.

Details of the contents of the individual Volumes are as follows.

Piece Numbers in 1891 Census (RG 12) covering Our Area.

RG 12 Axbridge
RG 12 Clutton
RG 12 1929 - 1940 Bath
RG 12 1941 - 1945 Keynsham
RG 12 1946 - 1956 Bedminster
RG 12 1957 - 1965 Bristol
RG 12 1966 - 1993 Barton Regis (Clifton)
RG 12 1994 - 1997 Chipping Sodbury
RG 12 1998 - 2000 Thornbury

The 1881 census was carried out on the night of Sunday 3rd April 1881. It is very similar in layout to the 1871 census.

The columns in the 1881 census are as follows:

  1. Number of schedule
  2. Road, street, etc and number or name of house
  3. Houses – inhabited or uninhabited (U) or building (B)
  4. Name and surname of each person
  5. Relation to head of family
  6. Condition (i.e. married, widowed, single, etc)
  7. Age last birthday of males/females
  8. Rank, profession or occupation
  9. Where born
  10. Whether 1.Deaf and dumb, 2. Blind,  3.Imbecile or idiot, 4. Lunatic.

The 1881 census was the first to be transcribed and indexed for the whole country, including Scotland. This was done in a joint project undertaken by the Church of the Latter Day Saints and the Federation of Family History Societies. Our Society takes great pride in the fact that the Coordinator of this mammoth undertaking was one of 'our own', namely Dick Sowter (Member number 0053).

This index was originally published on CD and microfiche, and is now available free of charge at the FamilySearch website. It is also used by many of the pay websites. These also provide the original images, and may have received corrections to the index. Details of all these websites can be found at census.

Piece Numbers in 1881 Census (RG 11) covering Our Area.

RG 11 2415 - 2424


RG 11 2425 - 2429


RG 11 2430 - 2444


RG 11 2445 - 2449


RG 11 2450 - 2464


RG 11 2465 - 2478


RG 11 2479 - 2508

Barton Regis (Clifton)

RG 11 2509 - 2512

Chipping Sodbury

RG 11 2513 - 2517


The 1871 census was taken on the night of Sunday 2nd April 1871. It  is very similar in layout to the 1861 census.

The columns in the 1871 census are as follows:

  1. Number of schedule
  2. Road, street, etc and number or name of house
  3. Houses – inhabited or uninhabited (U) or building (B)
  4. Name and surname of each person
  5. Relation to head of family
  6. Condition (i.e. married, widowed, single, etc)
  7. Age of males/females
  8. Rank, profession or occupation
  9. Where born
  10. Whether 1.Deaf and dumb, 2. Blind,  3.Imbecile or idiot, 4. Lunatic.

Indexes, transcriptions and images can be seen at the websites listed at census, and a partial index to the 1871 census for our area can be seen at the Society Research Room.

The relationship between the PRO Piece Numbers and the District names are listed below.

Piece Numbers in 1871 Census (RG 10) covering Our Area.

RG 10 2453 - 2466


RG 10 2467 - 2473


RG 10 2474 - 2498


RG 10 2499 - 2504


RG 10 2505 - 2518


RG 10 2519 - 2538


RG 10 2539 - 2575


RG 10 2576 - 2583

Chipping Sodbury

RG 10 2584 - 2590


RG 10 2505 - 2510


RG 10 2519 - 2538


RG 10 2539 - 2555
RG 10 2567 - 2571


The 1861 census was carried out on the night of Sunday 7th April 1861. It was carried out by the Registrar General, while previous censuses had been the responsibility of the Home Office. The arrangement is therefore slightly different, and for some reason the 1861 census is less complete in its coverage than the censuses before or after it.

The columns in the 1861 census are as follows:

  1. Number of schedule
  2. Road, street, etc and number or name of house
  3. Houses – inhabited or uninhabited (U) or building (B)
  4. Name and surname of each person
  5. Relation to head of family
  6. Condition (i.e. married, widowed, single, etc)
  7. Age of males/females
  8. Rank, profession or occupation
  9. Where born
  10. Whether blind or deaf-and-dumb

Indexes, transcriptions and images can be seen at the websites listed at census.

A partial index to the 1861 census for our area can be seen at the Society Research Room.

The relationship between the PRO Piece Numbers and the District names are listed below.

Piece Numbers in 1861 Census (RG 9) covering Our Area.

RG 9 1668 - 1675


RG 9 1676 - 1682


RG 9 1683 - 1697


RG 9 1698 - 1702


RG 9 1703 - 1711


RG 9 1712 - 1724


RG 9 1725 - 1742


RG 9 1743 - 1746

Chipping Sodbury

RG 9 1747 - 1749



The 1851 census was taken on the night of Sunday 30th March 1851.

It is the earliest really useful U.K. census. Compared with the 1841 census, it includes the following information:

  1. Precise age
  2. Relationship between residents at the same address
  3. Birthplace

The columns are as follows:

  1. Number of householder’s schedule
  2. Name of street, place or road and name or number of house
  3. Name and surname of each person who abode in the house on the night of 30th March 1851.
  4. Relation to head of family
  5. Condition (i.e. married, widowed, single, etc)
  6. Age of males/females
  7. Rank, profession or occupation
  8. Where born
  9. Whether blind or deaf-and-dumb

The 1851 census is available online at the websites listed on the Census page. It was also the first census to be indexed by volunteers, many working for family history societies. Bristol & Avon FHS have an 1851 census index available on microfiche in their Research Room, and other societies have published similar indexes.

The 1841 census was carried out on the night of Sunday 6th June 1841. It is not quite as useful as the later ones, for a variety of reasons:

  1. The ages of adults were usually rounded down to the nearest 5 years.
  2. No indication is given of the relationship of each member of the household to the head.
  3. The exact places of birth were not recorded, and instead an indication was given as to whether or not the individual was born in the same county.
  4. Many enumerators used pencil, and the returns can be difficult to read.

The columns in the 1841 Census are as follows:

  1. Place
  2. Houses, whether uninhabited or inhabited
  3. Name
  4. Age and sex
  5. Profession, trade or employment, or of independent means
  6. Whether born in same county
  7. Whether born in Scotland, Ireland or Foreign Parts

The 1841 Census was also different in terms of the administrative unit, and the area names are generally based on the old 'hundreds'.

The relevant Piece Numbers applied to these 'hundreds' for the area of interest are in the range 346 to 380 for the ancient county of Gloucestershire and 929 to 972 for the ancient county of Somerset.

The 1841 census is available online at the sites listed on the census page. A name index to much of the Bristol area is available in the Society’s Research Room.

Return to Bristol & Avon FHS Home Page

A 'will' was a written instrument providing for the disposition of a person's 'real' estate (land and buildings) while a 'testament' disposed of a person's property (money, pictures, furntiture, tools and leasehold land).  These two terms have now come to be synonymous.

To be valid, a will must be dated, described as the last will and testament , the author must be of sound mond, have property worth at least £5, it must be signed by the author at the bottom of each page and at the end in the presence of two witnesses.  Codicils are additions or modifications which can be affixed and must be dated , signed and witnessed as the will is.  A will names the person or person's, the executor, to carry out the deceased wishes. The executor obtains the official documents form the court, the 'grant of probate', to prove that he/she is legally authorised to administer the estate.  A person dies intestate when no will is left and then letters of administration (ADMONS) have to be obtained by the next of kin.

Prior to 1858, English wills were proved in church courts, either locally or centrally, with each court keeping its own records. Since that date the administration of probate has been the responsibility of the state, with local probate offices but a central register of wills.

Finding a will prior to 1858 can be difficult, since the probate court used will depend on the value and location of the estate, among other factors.

We are fortunate in that two of our local record offices have readily available indexes to wills. Details are given below.

The Bristol Record Office website contains downloadable (.pdf) indexes to wills proved at Bristol 1791-1858.

The Gloucestershire Record Office provides an on-line genealogical database including wills, which can be searched.

Most pre-1858 Somerset wills were destroyed by German bombing in 1942. However, some information is available and there is a useful guide on the website of the Somerset Heritage Centre.

Wills since 1858
All wills proved in England and Wales since 12th January 1858 are listed in annual indexes, which contain brief details usually sufficient to identify the deceased. Copies of the Indexes published since 1900 up to the present day are available openly in Bristol at the District Probate Registry, The Crescent Centre, Temple Back, Bristol, BS1 6EP, telephone 0117 927 3915. A microfiche copy of the probate index from 1858 to 1943 is available at Bristol Record Office. There is a searchable database on Ancestry of wills proved between 1861 to 1941. However, it does not include the years 1858-1860 and there are some gaps for the years 1863, 1868, 1873, 1876, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1899-1903 and 1910-1911.

A searchable database is much easier and quicker to use than printed indexes or those on microfiche.

Information on how to obtain a copy of a post-1858 will can be found on the HM Court Service website.

PCC Wills before 1858
Prior to 1858, the national court for obtaining probate was the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, which was a church court based in London. It was intended to deal with wealthier people who held property located in more than one of the local jurisdictions. However, it was commonly used by other people, perhaps as a matter of prestige. PCC wills can be viewed at The National Archives at Kew, London.

The National Archives has an index to over one million PCC wills from 1384 to 1858 which is available on the Internet. Copies of wills can be downloaded for £3.50. Details can be found at The National Archives.

Click here to see a useful National Archives  document on the subject.

This article was originally written by Bob Lawence and then expanded from an article published in B&AFHS Journal 86, December 1996, by Janet Hiscocks.

General UK Census Information

A census of the United Kingdom has been taken every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941. The statistical returns are published soon after the census has been taken, but copies of the actual sheets completed by enumerators have traditionally only been released after one hundred years. The latest census available is that for 1911.

The enumerators’ sheets are only available for the censuses from 1841 onwards. Some details from earlier censuses do survive, and can usually be found in the local Record Office.

Using the Census

Older family historians may remember using the original census books at the Public Record Office. Later, the census was microfilmed and copies bought by local libraries and record offices. These copies are still available, and can sometimes be useful when researchers wish to scan or copy the census returns for a particular locality. Published indexes are available for some of the census years, which makes it simpler to locate a particular family or individual.

Most family historians now use the indexes and images that are available online. These have the advantage that you can check the original document and draw your own conclusions from what is written. The search options are very flexible, and enable the researcher to use other terms than simply forename and surname.

These websites are listed below. Some have their own indexes, while others share indexes with other sites. It is sometimes worth checking another site if you cannot find what you want on the first one you use. It is not easy to know how many different census indexes there actually are, and some will have corrections submitted by users. Many providers use the index and transcription of the 1881 census carried out by volunteers working  under the direction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons).

The following websites offer this service at the present time and have all the censuses from 1841 to 1911. They also have other data, such as the GRO records of births, marriages and deaths, parish records and civil and military records. Data can be accessed either by buying a subscription or on a pay-per-view basis.


This site also offers access to censuses from the United States and Canada.


Part of Brightsolid, and sharing databases with other Brightsolid sites.

The Genealogist

Genes Reunited

Part of Brightsolid, and sharing databases with other Brightsolid sites.


Only has the 1841, 1861 and 1871 censuses

1881 Census

The 1881 census is available online fee of charge at the Family Search website. The index and a transcription are provided, but not images of the original pages.

1901 Census

Operated by Genes Reunited, and so part of Brightsolid. Despite its name, provides access to all the usual U.K. censuses.

1911 Census

Only has the 1911 census. Part of Brightsolid.

Alternatives to the online census

Before the development of the high-speed internet, many individuals and organisations compiled indexes to the census. These were usually either printed or published on CD. They do not give access to images of the original enumerators’ books, and the indexes are often fairly basic. They may however sometimes be useful in providing an alternative interpretation of the original. The only national index is that of the 1881 census carried out by volunteers working under the direction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). The Bristol & Avon FHS has published indexes to the 1851 and 1891 census for our own area. The 1851 census index is available on microfiche at the Society’s Research Room, while the 1891 index is published on CD and available for purchase.

The census on microfilm can be searched at The National Archives at Kew. Local copies are held in record offices and at some central libraries. It is generally easier to view an image online than using a microfilm reader. Microfilm is usually monochrome, is easily scratched, and reproduction is poorer. Online images can be easily enlarged, and are sometimes a colour reproduction, which can make the text more legible.

Some family historians may recall that, before the days of the online census and its attendant name indexes, the then Public Record Office and Family Record Centre had indexes to tell you where particular streets were enumerated. This source is still available through the TNA Historical Streets Project at:

The archive was closed to new users w.e.f. February 2012 but if you were an 'existing user' you could continue to add your own information about a street for each of the censuses from 1841 to 1891.  From September 2012, the archive will be closed - more information about this here


FreeCEN offers indexes and transcriptions free of charge on the Internet at This is a volunteer project so coverage is uneven, and only the censuses from 1841 to 1891 are covered. There is no access to images of the original documents, but you could use the reference provided to find the image on one of the pay sites.

Missing Pages and Omissions

Over the years, some of the enumerators’ books have become damaged or lost. There is a good summary of missing pages available free of charge at Some of the pages listed are in Manchester for 1851, and Ancestry have recently carried out a lot of work on water-damaged pages to make them legible.

As well as pages which have been lost or damaged, some pages are missed when the indexing and transcription are done.

When the Census was taken

The dates when the census was taken are as follows:




TNA Reference



10th March




27th May




28th May




30th May




6th June

HO 107



30th March

HO 107



7th April

RG 9



2nd April

RG 10



3rd April

RG 11



5th April

RG 12



31st March

RG 13



2nd April

RG 14

Researchers not familiar with British Census Returns should note that two completely separate numbering systems are applied to them.

Original Administrative Numbering System.

Firstly, there is the numbering system applied to the division of the country into administrative areas.  The UK is initially divided up into Divisions, and the two Divisions of most interest to us are South-Western Counties, Division 5, and West Midland Counties, Division 6.

Each Division is divided up into Registration or Union Counties, and the two Counties of most interest to us are Somerset, which is numbered 21 and was part of Division 5, and Gloucestershire which is numbered 22 and was part of Division 6.

Each Registration County is divided into Superintendent Registrar's Districts, and Gloucester includes Bristol which is numbered 329, and Clifton which is 330. (This may confuse partisan Bristolians, who will know that Bristol was a County in its own right from 1373, quite distinct from the County of Gloucestershire.  However, it must be remembered that that for Census purposes, we are talking about Registration Counties, which comprise groups of Districts based on the Poor Law Unions.  "Whenever a District or Union extends into more than one County, it is assigned wholly to the County in which the greater portion of the population of such District is located."  Thus, Bristol, despite being itself a real County, when treated as a Poor Law Union or District, is allocated to the Registration County of Gloucestershire.)

Each District is divided into Sub-Districts, and the District of Bristol for example includes the Sub-Districts of Castle Precincts, which is numbered 2, and St.Paul which is 3.

Each Sub-District is divided into individual "Parishes, Townships or Places", and Castle Precincts for example includes the Parishes of St.Nicholas, which is numbered 1 and St.Stephen which is 2.

Finally, 'Parishes' are divided into Enumeration Districts, and St.Nicholas for example is further divided into 1a, 1b and 1c. Each Enumeration District comprises a number of pages in the Census Enumerators' Books (CEBs), the books themselves coming in various standard sizes, e.g. there were 6 different sizes of Book in the 1851 Census, namely 16, 24, 36, 48, 60 and 72-page books.

Subsequent PRO Numbering System

Secondly, and quite separately, there is the numbering system applied by the PRO to identify bundles of documents deposited there, comprising the Call Number (e.g. Home Office is HO, and Registrar General is RG), the Class Number (e.g. the 1841 and 1851 Census are HO 107, and the 1861 Census is RG 9), the Piece Number (e.g. in the 1851 Census, Castle Precincts is 1948) and finally the Folio (comprising two CEB Pages).

Further Information

For further information on the census, there are various books available from The National Archives bookshop at

For further information on the earlier Censuses, refer to a booklet written by the Bristol & Avon FHS Society President, Colin R. Chapman, entitled Pre-1841 Censuses & Population Listings, published by Lochin Publishing and available from our Shop.

Census for Scotland

While Ancestry has a census index for Scotland, Findmypast and The Genealogist do not. Ancestry provides an index and transcription, but not images of the original census books. Index, transcription and original images are all available on the ScotlandsPeople website at The 1911 census for Scotland will be available from April 2011.

Census for Ireland

A census of Ireland was taken every ten years from 1821 to 1911. No manuscript returns survive for 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 but there are some returns for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851. The 1901 and 1911 census returns for the whole of Ireland are now fully searchable online and free of charge at, across fields which were filled in on the original census forms - thirteen fields were returned in 1901 and fifteen in 1911. The returns may be searched by religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information.

In addition to links, this section contains files in Portable Document Format (PDF). which you can download. .PDF files have full search features for locating words or phrases in documents.  If Adobe® Reader is not already installed on your computer, click the icon below to freely download the software.

1. An index prepared by Ron Lewin listing occupations of  Bristol citizens the 18th century:

Download Occupationsrlewin.pdf

2. Blank members interests form for you to download and print.

Blank Members Interests form (pdf)

3. Thornbury Marriages - missing from Phillimore's Gloucestershire Vol. XV. As listed by E.A. Roe from Gloucester Bishops Transcripts.


5. Neil Dun's FreeBMD Church Cross-reference.

Neil Dun and Derek Allen have been analysing the data on the FreeBMD web site (  Many members and visitors to our research room have found this index to be a helpful aid in locating marriages at churches in Bristol and surrounding districts.  You can use this index to look up the FreeBMD reference for a marriage and there is a high probability that it will identify the church.  This can save you time and money if you live in the Bristol area (or maybe you can ask someone to do a 'look-up' for you) because you can then visit the Bristol Archives and search for it there in the parish records. This is not now a "download" but a link to Neil's website but we've left the link here by popular demand!

To access the data, visit Neil's own website at:

6. Christchurch Parish Baptisms in alphabetical order -  omitted from the index on the B&AFHS CD Bristol Diocese Baptismal Registers Vols. 11 to 14 : Index & Transcriptions 1754 - 1812.  This index includes reference data which allows you to locate the individual Christchurch transcription entries on the CD.

7. Table of parishes in and around Bristol with data included on B&AFHS CDs or our website.

8. Non Conformist Baptisms - Roman Catholic, St Joseph (later St Mary on the Quay) 1835 - 1837

In 2008 the society issued a CD - "Nonconformist Baptismal Registers in the Bristol Records Office 1754 - 1837".  The records for St Joseph 1835 - 37 were not ready when the CD was issued.  They are now available as a free downloadable .PDF file (please see note above about Adobe®Reader which you will need to read the file). When you have downloaded the file you will be able to search the document and also print it if you wish but please think of trees before you do this?.

9. Butcher, Baker, Candle Maker - Chipping Sodbury from 1795 - a downloadable index of surnames from the book

This index in .PDF format was complied by John and Val Gearing and contains 1262 surnames with relevant map references.  When you have downloaded the file you will be able to search the document and also print it if you wish (26 pages) but please think of trees before you do this?.

10. Places of Worship Past and Present in BAFHS geographic area (the former county of Avon 1974-1996) 

 This list of places of worship is an incomplete but ongoing project. It is offered here as an aid for research purposes, particularly for family historians, but also for anyone else who benefits from using the data. Hopefully, you will find it useful.

It has been produced from many sources and was originally based on a detailed piece of work relating to Bristol by one of our members, Keith Howell, who does not live locally and who was seeking help in completing it. Further research has uncovered more demolished or defunct places of worship and further detailed information has been added to the record from multiple sources including the Bristol Archives, Bristol Diocesan Board of Finance, Bath and Wells Diocesan Board of Finance, the Reece Winstone Archives, Shirley Hodgson and other Members of BAFHS, and also from many books about churches and other places of worship.

This information is not held up to be comprehensive or totally accurate. Much of the local knowledge to validate the record is beyond living memory. There is also a problem with understanding what the dates represent. For example, dates relating to the closure of places of worship vary according to different perceptions of ‘closure’, eg. is it the date of the last service, the day the doors closed or the day the relevant authority ceased to have formal involvement with the property?

The record may never be 100% complete or totally up-to-date and will always be open to amendments. We would like to hear from you with any additions, or corrections, which can be validated. Please send to

11. (a) Bristol Burgesses 1525 - 1557

Roger Price augments our Bristol Burgess CD with this valuable transcription of early Burgess records calendared from the Corporation's great audit books


11. (b) Missing Bristol Burgesses 1599 - 1607

Roger Price augments our Bristol Burgess CD with these records missing from the Burgess books calendared from the Corporation's great audit books.


11. (c) Bristol Temple Church Marriages 1558 - 1753

Roger Price makes available his collation and transcription work covering marriage records from the earliest registers of Temple Church (holy cross), Bristol.


11.(d) Bristol St James Church Marriages 1559 - 1753

Roger Price makes available his collation and transcription work covering marriage records from the earliest registers of St James Church, Bristol

11.(e) Bristol Marriage Licence Bonds 1701-1710

Roger Price makes available his index of Bristol Marriage Bonds 1701-10

11.(f) Bristol Cathedral Marriages 1615 - 1753

Roger Price makes available his collation and transcription work from the early record of Bristol Cathedral. 

12. Strays

These 'strays' are people born or who usually lived in the former county of Avon (Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire) but have been found (often by chance) in another county or country. The names were taken from many different sources such as baptismal, marriage and death registers, newspapers and monumental inscriptions.

13. Bristol Royal Infirmary In-Patient Index 1750 - 1775

The Bristol Infirmary was instituted as a charity in 1735 and opened the doors to its newly built premises in 1737. In the national context it was one of the earliest of the major hospitals and as such it admitted patients from a very wide area; all over Somerset, Gloucestershire and well into Wales.  From the very first day in 1737 records of admission were kept of all the patients that were treated.  This index was compiled by Gordon and Barbara Faulkner, long-standing members of the Society, and our thanks are due to them.

14. Arnos Vale Cemetery Crematorium Cloister Transcriptions

The crematorium was opened at Arnos Vale cemetery, Bristol in 1928 when a cloister wall was built to display memorials. Between then and the early 1950's it was filled with almost 1000 memorials to just under 1400 individuals. This document contains an alphabetical index and transcriptions of all the memorials that remained in 2016. A few are no longer readable and 17 memorial plaques are either missing or blank. When the cloister was full a book of remembrance was opened although names continued to be added to existing memorials in the cloister.  The books of remembrance may be viewed at the cemetery and scans of the pages are also available on line via the cemetery website



The above documents available on this website can be freely accessed, printed and downloaded in an unaltered form with copyright acknowledged to Bristol & Avon Family History Society, for any non-commercial use. They may not be sold, licensed, transferred, copied or reproduced in whole or in part in any manner or in or on any media to any person without prior written consent. This statement does not apply to documents which may be available via links given above to other websites.