FreeCEN Scotland

Putting 19th century Scottish census transcriptions online
Scottish thistle FreeCEN logo

Transcriber Notes & Abbreviations

The FAQ and help files should provide all the instruction and information needed to transcribe. Also visit the project home page and read the information there, downloading anything useful.

SSCENS was created for the 1891 England/Wales census; there are a few things to be aware of when adapting it for the 1841 Scotland census. More specific instructions for Scotland are below.

General Notes on Transcribing

The general rule for transcription is to enter things “as is”. There are a couple exceptions to this rule, which will be dealt with in the next section.

  1. The 1841 has several differences with later census returns. The enumerators collected less information. Ages were rounded down for people over 15. The books were written in pencil rather than ink, making the reproduction worse. There are no schedule numbers. Because of the poor quality of many of the fiche, you may be struggling to read some of it. Please just give it your best shot. Remember, behind you comes a checker and the validater.
  2. The 1841 census used a series of slashes to distinguish between families and households. The enumerators did not always follow the rules as laid out. Review your parish before you begin transcription to get a sense of the system your enumerator’s were using. In general:
    • A single slash (“/”) after a name indicates that the people following are not members of the preceding household. Sometimes they are a separate household living in the same building and sometimes they are employees, lodgers, distant relatives, etc. living in the same household as the main household.
    • A double slash (“//”) after a name indicates that the people following were members of another household. There can be more than one household in a building, particularly in larger cities.

      Each household must have a schedule number – default is 0. Uninhabited buildings must also be included as neighbourhood searching is expected to be provided as part of the final database.
  3. Take the time to read the enumeration information at the beginning of the ED and the enumerator’s notes (if applicable), at the end of the ED. These may contain further clarification on proper address spellings and any questionable entries.

Notes on using SSCENS for 1841 Scotland

  1. Column E — Schedule number: Schedule numbers were not used on the 1841 census; however a schedule number MUST be entered in the row for each new head of household for the database to work. Please enter “0”. Each household has to be determined. If the “slashes” don’t solve the problem for you, then look at the complete picture, addresses, surnames, ages, occupations etc. Then decide what the household is.
  2. Column G — Address: All “dittos” and any abbreviations clearly derived from preceding place names should be expanded. For example the address “H. Cot.” following the address “Hiltonhead” should be expanded to “Hiltonhead Cot”. If the abbreviation is unclear, enter it as is. Also, use the spelling used by the enumerator, no matter how unusual it seems.
  3. Column J — Forename: In 1841 no modern first names were likely. Before 1900, the majority of men in Scotland had one of the following names:
    James, John, William, Alexander, Charles, or Robert.
    The majority of women had one of the following names:
    Mary, Margaret, Martha, Jane/Jean, Janet, Agnes, Elisabeth, or Isabella.
  4. Column Q — Occupation: Understandable abbreviations such as “Ag Lab” are acceptable, however please expand out other abbreviations (example: AL, FS, HLW) where you are certain of the meaning so that it is clearly understandable. All “dittos” should also be expanded. If you are unclear as to the meaning of the abbreviation, enter it as is.
  5. Column T — Birth County: The 1841 enumerators used “y” for born in county, “n” for not born in county, “i” for Ireland, “e” for England, and “f” for Foreign. Translate these over as follows:
    y         = AYR (or whatever county you are transcribing)
    n         = OUC 
    i         = IRL 
    e         = ENG
    f         = OVF
    no entry  = UNK
    other     = if enumerator quoted other county then enter code

1841 Common Occupations

“Instructions to Enumerators” for the 1841 Census required the use of standard abbreviations for Occupations. FreeCEN policy is to expand these whenever there is no doubt about the intended meaning.

A. or Ap.
Apprentice — can be abbreviated as “appren”
Ag. Lab. or A.L.
Agricultural Labourer — can be abbreviated as “Ag Lab”
Army H.P.
Army, Half-Pay
Army Pen
Army Pensioner
B. Smith or B.S.
Black Smith
FYI — “ditto”, indicates occupation is the same as the one above
FYI — Occupation frequently given by prostitutes in larger cities
Female Servant
Hand Loom Weaver.
H.L.C.W., H.L.L.W., or H.L.W.W.
Hand Loom Weaver — Cotton, Linen, or Woollen respectively.
Journeyman — can be abbreviated as “jrnymn”
M. or m.
“M.” is supposed to be Manufacturer and “m.” is supposed to be Maker. Enumerator’s often used them interchangeably and it is sometimes an abbreviation for Miner (e.g. Coal M.)
Male Servant
P. Pauper
Parish Pauper
Pirn Winder
FYI — Common occupation for women in weaving trade
Rail. Lab.
Railway Labourer
Sp. Deal.
Spirit Dealer

The list above is derived from the Instructions to Enumerators for 1841