History of the Census
Censuses date back to around 4000BC when the Chinese held them to plan their armies and collect taxes. From around 3800BC the Babylonians took Censuses every six or seven years to count the number of people, livestock, quantities of butter, milk and honey, wool and vegetables. The Egyptians conducted a Census in 2500BC to assess the labour force available for the building of the pyramids and to redistribute land following the flooding of the Nile.
First survey of England
The first thorough survey of England was in 1086 when William the Conqueror ordered a detailed list of all land and property. Now known as the Domesday Book, this document provides a remarkable picture of life in Norman Britain.
The first official Census of England and Wales
The first official Census of England and Wales was on 10 March 1801 and was called amidst fears that Britain's growing population would outstrip the country's supply of food. The modern Census has since been held every ten years, except in 1941 during the Second World War.
The 1841 Census was the first time the head of each household was given a form to fill in on a certain day. This still forms the basis of the system used today.