Why is the census important

Why is the census important to Black Britons
The census is valuable information for anyone wishing to trace their family history in the UK as it provides information on the following areas of family life. Namely: Ethnicity and religion, Families, Health, Households, People and places, Work. The census is important as it can help to make the business case for race equality and cultural heritage for all communities. The census helps to unpick the different aspects ranges of black diaspora populations in the UK. The latest census has provided rich information nature of multicultural Britain

  • Caribbean and South East Asian communities from the former Commonwealth
  • African communities from former Commonwealth
  • Africans from former colonial empires e.g. Spain, France, Italy, Portugal.

The recent categories and of Black British and Mixed race over the last two census is an important landmark in the future development of multicultural Britain and how the census will be used for family history.

The first census in the UK was in 1841 this is predated by parish records. Although there have been a black, Asian and minority ethnic presence in Britain for over 1000 years the census records between 1841- 1951 do not reflect this as lot of people over the centuries have been assimilated through relationship and marriage in to white mainstream family life.

For instance over 10,000 black people lived in London alone during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st in the 16th Century.

Thus the earlier census records are actually more useful for white British people trying to research and find their black ancestors. A good example of this is Francis Barber who was voted back in 2003 as one of the top 100 Great Black Britons of all time.

Francis Barber was the personal assitant of the famous 18th Century writer, Samuel Johnson. He lived with Johnson in his house in Gough Square, close to Fleet Street. Barber moved to Staffordshire with his family and his descendants still live there to this day. Cedric Barber a descendant of Francis was able to trace his family tree.

However, the 1901 and 1911 census does provide some information of people that came from the Caribbean and South Asian that settled during this period.

Nevertheless, we will have to wait till 2051 to see the early records of the migration and people from Africa and Caribbean that came to Britain during World War 2 and the early rise of the Windrush Generation.

Every Generation will be developing a series of eBooks and courses on family genealogy over the next several months. If you like to be added to our data base please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.