Census, Scotland

Use Scotland’s census, 1841 to 1911, to find a snapshot of a day in the life of your ancestors and discover where they lived, with whom and what they did for a living.

What do I need to know before I start?​

Try to find out:

  • name of ancestor
  • birth year and birth place
  • address at time of the census


What records can I find in The Mitchell: Registrars and Special Collections?

An official census has been taken every 10 years in the United Kingdom since 1801 (not 1941) but only those returns after 1841 (with a few earlier exceptions) carry details of named residents. There is a hundred year closure so the 1911 census is the latest which can be accessed.

The census records for all of Scotland for 1841 to 1911 have been digitally imaged. Copies of these images, together with a full index, are one of the many resources available as part of the ScotlandsPeople network which you access in the Registrars on payment of a daily fee of £15.

Special Collections holds microfilm copies of the census for large parts of Scotland for 1841 to 1901 (not 1911) which you can access free of charge. We also offer access to Ancestry and FindMyPast, both of which offer keyword searchable transcriptions, in all Glasgow Libraries.

The 1841 census includes the following information:

  • names of household members present in the house on the night of the census
  • age of members of household (ages of persons 15 years and over were rounded down to the nearest five years)
  • gender
  • profession
  • birthplace, records whether or not a person was born in the county in which the census took place, or whether they were of English, Irish or foreign birth

The 1851 to 1911 censuses include the following information:

  • place (name of street, place, or road, and name or number of house)
  • name of each person that had spent the night in that household
  • relation to head of family
  • marital status
  • age
  • sex
  • profession or occupation
  • whether an employer, employed, or working on own account (1891)
  • birthplace, including place and parish of birth, if Scotland, or whether they were English, Irish or foreign birth)
  • whether speaks Gaelic or Gaelic and English (from 1891)
  • whether blind, or deaf and dumb (or lunatic, imbecile, or idiot from 1891)
  • number of persons in house (1911)
  • particulars as to marriage (1911) (single, married, widower or widow; duration of marriage; children born alive; children still living)
  • industry or service with which worker is connected (1911)
  • nationality if born in a foreign country (1911)


What records can I see online?

The City Archives holds the original returns of the 1821 census for Lesmahagow which are available online: by address, by reference, and by surname.


What other resources will help me find information?


Images of the census for Scotland 1841 to 1911, can be purchased on the ScotlandsPeople website, or you can access the website at the Registrars Genealogy Service, on payment of a daily fee of £15.


Emma Jolly, "Tracing your ancestors using the census : a guide for family historians" (2013) ebook



Registrars Genealogy Service


0141 287 7655


Special Collections


0141 287 2988

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