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Records Australia - Census


The first Australian census was held in 1828. Previous to that 'musters' were used to assess the population. Censuses were held thereafter in 1833, 1836, 1841, 1846, 1851, 1856, 1861 and then every ten years to 1901. For more detailed information. see the Short Guide 12 provided by State Records New South Wales.

Each of the census since then: 1911, 1921, 1933, 1947, 1954, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1991, have all been destroyed.

For a more detailed list of musters and census and what has survived, see Graham Lewis' excellent summary reproduced online at Convicts to Australia.

The 1828 census provides the individual’s full name,age, free or bond, ship, year, sentence, religion, employment, residence, district, total number of acres, acres cleared, acres cultivated, horses, horned cattle, sheep and remarks. It does not include the military, although their wives and children were probably included in the general population. It is the only census to survive in full to the present day. The 1828 census is available on CD at the State Library of New South Wales and the Society of Australian Genealogists.

There is a searchable online index to the 1841 census also provided by State Records NSW. This index covers all the surviving householders' returns and abstracts of returns. As the returns record only the name of the head of the household, the names of the other people resident in the household are not identified. Only three Maddens are listed. An unnamed Madden at Penrith, New South Wales; a John Madden at Waverley, Sydney; and a William Madden in Melbourne, Victoria.

The 1891 census was the first census to survive in substance after the 1841 Census. Records of the intervening censuses are believed to have been destroyed in the Garden Palace fire on 22 September 1882. Only the name of the head of the household and the total number of persons in the household (divided into male and female) is listed. Microform records can be accessed at various State Archives.

Only the Collectors' Books survive from the 1901 census. The Collectors' Books are arranged alphabetically by census district. Only the name of the head of the household and the total number of persons in the household (divided into male and female) is listed. Microform records can be accessed at the various State Archives.

The Archives Office of Tasmania has a searchable online index of surviving census 1837-1857. Seven MADDENs are listed.