Skip to main content

Census Act

Census Act, 1800. In 18th-cent. Britain there was much uncertainty about the size of the population and whether it was diminishing in relation to that of France. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Austria, followed by Holland and Spain, instituted censuses in the course of the century. In 1753 Thomas Potter moved in Parliament for an annual census. His opponents retorted that it would give valuable information to enemies, complained of the affront to British liberty, and forecast widespread resistance. The bill was lost in the Lords. Arthur Young proposed a census in a pamphlet of 1771 and an inconclusive debate about the trend rumbled on. The 1800 bill, which carried the day, was introduced by Charles Abbot, a future Speaker, at the suggestion of John Rickman. There was no opposition and the first census of Great Britain was carried out on 10 March 1801. The population of England and Wales was returned as 9.168 million and Scotland as 1.599 million, revealing an upwards trend. Contemporaries were struck by the size of London which, at 1 million, was as big as all the other towns together. Though simple and unsophisticated by later standards, the census was a milestone in the provision of statistical data and has subsequently been held at ten-year intervals.

J. A. Cannon

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Census Act." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 18 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Census Act." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (January 18, 2019).

"Census Act." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved January 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.