Index to the 1841 Census
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Prepared by State Records' staff, from NRS 1281 and NRS 1282, there are 9354 entries in the index. Please note that some records are very difficult to decipher. Names followed by a (?) indicate an illegible entry or one in which the name could not be read clearly enough to make a positive identification.
NOTE: For a number of places such as the Lachlan and Liverpool districts there are only statistical returns - no individual names are listed.
Microfilm copies of the 1841 Census can be viewed in our reading room.
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The first systematic survey of the population of the New South Wales settlement was made in 1795 when Governor Hunter called a 'muster' of the inhabitants. Until 1828, when the first census was held, musters were used to number people and to note whether they were being victualled (receiving provisions) from the Government, as a way of assessing whether the Colony would be able to maintain itself without assistance from the public stores, and as a control over the convict population.
General musters, which included all the inhabitants of the Colony, appear to have been held annually between 1795 and 1825. Other categories of musters such as settlers' musters, musters of livestock, musters of convicts or those specifically for males, females or children or convicts per a certain ship, were conducted more frequently.
The first census was held in November 1828 after it was found that a Governor had no right to compel free men to come to a muster. Thereafter, censuses were conducted in 1833, 1836, 1841, 1846, 1851, 1856, 1861 and then every ten years to 1901. Unfortunately however, records of individuals' names have only survived for the 1841, 1891 and 1901 censuses.
The 'Act for ascertaining the Number of the Inhabitants of the Colony of New South Wales in the Year One thousand eight hundred and forty-one' (4 Victoria No. 26) required every householder, employer of servants and proprietor and occupier of land to complete the census schedule on the second day ('or on the days immediately subsequent thereto') of March 1841. The 1841 census records the population by police districts, counties and towns. The tabulation of results was more scientific. Age groups were adopted, note made of conjugal condition (married or unmarried) as well as civil condition - noting the number of bond (convict) or free males and females in the household and showing whether they were born in the colony, arrived free, held a ticket of leave, were in government employment or private assignment) - and religious denomination.
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