The information I have recorded are the name and sex, the age giving the approximate year of birth together with the place of birth, the year of the census, together with the relationship, marital status, and age, the occupation, if any, and since I started on the 1851 census, the place of residence at that census.
For each of these I record the source of the information together with the census record identification.
Obviously, for the 1841 census, the place of birth is either in or out of the county in which the census was conducted, the occupation is not recorded, and the year of birth is often rounded to the nearest 5 years.
It is important to look at the original census records as I have found many errors of transcription,
including pages in the census which have not been indexed - I came across one family of Hicksons purely by chance
because, in the 1841 census, another Hickson had been recorded (and indexed) on the opposite page.
In the 1861 census I have found many errors, including mispelling of names and wrong dates of birth. It is much more difficult to find wrong spellings of the surname as there is no way of searching for this.
Example: 1861 census. The transcribers have given us Jane HICKSON, head, and her four children: Louisa, Mark, Eliza, and Matilda. Looking carefully at the original record it looks possibly like HICKTON, but on looking at the other census years, 1851, 1871, 1881, 1891 & 1901 it is clear that it is definitely HICKTON. This also works in reverse, but is much more difficult to spot.
You would have thought that this would have covered everyone alive in England between 1851 and 1901, unfortunately many people were missed off the censuses, in some cases they were never included in any census. This could be due to absence in foreign lands, or much more frequently, missed by the enumerators and pages of the censuses which have been lost. (A list does exist) Of course, mispellings of names, errors of transcription and omission of names or pages in the indexes also play a large role.
Some people have been included more than once in a census, for example, John Hickson, aged 20 in the 1841 census, absent from the 1851 census,
was included three times in the 1861 census, aged variously as 43 and 45 years old.
See RG9 2600 , page 29 #138;
RG9 2596 [-], page 10 #-; and
RG9 2596 [79end] Form A #1&2
entered in Book 3 page 10.
In 1871 he is shown as aged 54, a widower living with 2 daughters.
In 1881 he is aged 65, a widower in a boarding house.
He does not appear in any later censuses.
He was Captain of the boat Thistle on the waterways (canals).
My sources for these censuses have been the
Family History Resource File, CD ROM Library produced by the Church of Jesus
Christ of latter day Saints, Packs of CD (or DVD) census records for each county produced by
S&N British Data Archive Ltd,
and online census records produced by Ancestry.co.uk.
From FreeCEN UK census online: 5 census records for HICKSON in 1841
From FreeCEN UK census online: No census records found for HICKSON in 1851
From FreeCEN UK census online: 12 census records found for HICKSON in 1861