Posted by on 8 December 2011 in Company News, General, Record Collections

Good news today for millions of you tracing your ancestors in many of Britain’s most populated counties. We’ve completed the second part of our 1911 Census  transcriptions, so records covering London, Lancashire, Yorkshire and 17 other crucial counties are now fully searchable!

We’ve now transcribed more than half of the 35 million records that make up the 1911 Census. Last month we released searchable records for Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. With our latest addition we’ve concentrated on England’s busiest areas to help as many of you as possible find your family.

Of course the most populated region of all is the City of London. Most of you will find at least one ancestor living among the 4.5 million people that called the capital home in 1911.

But Yorkshire, Lancashire, Warwickshire and other areas all over the country were also thriving in the early 20th century. Remember, the Industrial Revolution was complete by this time, and people were flocking to England’s towns and cities to take advantage of new opportunities for work.

Here’s a full list of the areas that are now searchable:

Channel Islands
Isle of Man
Royal Navy
Yorkshire – East Riding
Yorkshire – North Riding
Yorkshire – West Riding

Remember, unlike any previous censuses this one provides you with the actual forms your ancestors filled in, complete with their handwriting and signatures. We already have all the scanned records available, and now more than half of them are searchable. We’re continuing to work on the remaining transcriptions – these will be finished next year.

Search the Census now.


lita saunders 

I don’t seem to be able to search 1911 Devon Census is there a problem?

8 December 2011 at 6:00 pm
Annabel Reeves 

Hi Lita, I’ve just had a look and it’s all working at my end. Click on this link and search from there

Let us know how you get on?

8 December 2011 at 6:02 pm
Brian Gare 

There is a major problem in the transcriptions of anyone with Southwark as a birth place in todays release of the 1911 census.

They have all been wrongly transcribed as Wark.

I think who ever did the transcription read them as London South Wark. instead of London Southwark.

By doing a *Wark search there are 63,296 such errors.

I have put an email into Ancestry to warn of the problem which needs an urgent fix.

Users should be aware of the problem in the meantime.

Regards Brian

8 December 2011 at 7:20 pm

Based on the transcriptions I looked at, they are equally as bad or even worse than the previous census transcripts. I would have thought they would have been more careful about it, being that all the subscribers are eagerly awaiting it. Frankly, some of it is absolutely terrible. Who the heck transcribed this?

Extremely disappointing.

8 December 2011 at 10:00 pm

Absolutely no use to me whatsoever, considering most of my family lived in rural Hampshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. How much longer do we have to wait?

8 December 2011 at 10:19 pm

Just came across a Peskett family, suprised they actually got the last name right. Of the 12 members of the household over half of them have had there names so badly bastardized that the index is completely useless. It can be found at:

What a joke, honestly, were these people paid money to transcribe this? It they were then you seriously got ripped off!

8 December 2011 at 10:55 pm

Cannot comment on how good Transcriptions are because they don’t seem to have everyone indexed.
Have checked for ones in Devon and Lancashire and cannot find them at all.
I don’t think it is transcription problem it is just that they don’t exist at all on the index.

e.g. Surname Boundy living in Devon brings 3 Names, should be at least a hundred.

searching by piece number for someone in lancashire shows up as non existant.

Son on 4 Searches have found 1 so far but know that all 4 are on 1911 Census in either Lancashre or Devon.

8 December 2011 at 11:01 pm

It is clear that the indexing has been rushed. Someone born in Islington in London is listed as London United Kingdom not England and no sign of Islington. It is also clear that a number of the people’s places of birth have not been transcribed at all. The Southwark problem seems to be consistent as they are listed as Wark and people in Cornwall are listed as Cornwall and Wall and not as the parish. It is a real mess. Please Ancestry lets go back and get the gaps and errors amended, it is just wasting subscriber’s money.

8 December 2011 at 11:25 pm

I would have to agree with David in comment #8. Ancestry has to correct these errors. Not just offer alternate names. Correct them and give them the right names, not someone’s pathetic attempt at transcribing. It’s not an alternate name, it’s their real names!

I would also agree that individuals with a birth place listed within London have had their details transcribed as strickly London, United Kingdom. Not very helpful and completely inaccurate.

With the World Archives Project, entries are compared with another independent transcription of the same image. I don’t think that was the case here. This project would probably been done a lot more carefully if it had been done via the WAP, instead of having it mass and mis-transcribed, I’m guessing, from way outside of the UK.

9 December 2011 at 12:09 am
Brian Gare 

The other problem is understanding what is meant by London. It certainly does not include the old and now defunct county of Middlesex. So dont try looking for anyone in NW London. Also there are problems with occupants with the same surname living at the same address. Lazy enumerators, instead of writing the surname against everyones name, just did it the once then put a couple of dots for ditto against everyone else. Guess what? The transcribes have also been lazy and I have come across too many incidents where people have been indexed with a forename only. The 1911 census has been rushed with an absence of quality control. Ancestry had better not think about putting its prices up! I would totally agree with Geralds #9 comment. I think this was done by people who may speak English but don`t live here.

9 December 2011 at 9:54 am
Elizabeth Walne 

Much of Norfolk seems to be missing. Several parishes do not appear and others are listed with the wrong names e.g. you have Whitlingham down as ‘Whittington’.

I’m sure these are teething problems but it would be very helpful to have a list of the current gaps in the Counties which you otherwise say are available.


9 December 2011 at 10:51 am

Having wasted my time and Ancestry’s bandwidth, can someone from Ancestry please confirm that not all the registration districts in Cornwall have been uploaded yet?

eg. Helston, piece number 13925, returns NO matches.

Ah … I’ve just noticed that Annabel Reeves (above) has written, “so records covering London, Lancashire, Yorkshire and 17 other crucial counties are now fully searchable,” and “full list of the areas that are now searchable.” Note the careful use of words — it is NOT saying that the counties listed are *fully* indexed.

I do wish Ancestry would be up-front in their announcements, instead of infuriating their subscribers with half-truths.

(I agree with the previous comments made about the appalling transcriptions and ludicrous locations.)

9 December 2011 at 10:58 am
hilary gunn 

Still a major problem with Devon, I can’t find families I know for certain lived there because I have an image of the census page acquired from Find My Past when they had them for free during the World Cup. Is it only partially available or wholly.
Either be honest about what isn’t there or sort the problem please.

9 December 2011 at 11:15 am
Carol Sweetland 

Probably also transcribed by non-English language speakers, Labourer transcribed as Cabourer and Horse transcribed as house

9 December 2011 at 11:20 am
Chris R 

These records won’t merge from the web search page of Family Tree Maker 2011. The bottom panel just shows “An error occurred while servicing your request. Please try again.”

The problem doesn’t exist with any other collections, including the 1911 Wales Census, so I think Ancestry have forgotten to create the necessary index for the latest additions.

This needs an urgent fix.


9 December 2011 at 11:46 am

Could I suggest that if you are looking for Helston looking under Wall in Cornwall, it might work. There does seem to have been a lack of forethought as NB (sometimes transcribed as Np)is left in, it stood for North Britain ie Scotland but Scotland is not included in the index. The errors in the index for occupations are so bad that most of them are wrong. The index for Wales wasn’t that great but at least it had something for the places of birth. The point made by Brian Gare about London is a good point and I woud add that the City of London is not the County of London, it is a seperate county, and not London nor Middlesex. The other census were not as bad as 1911 are so why has it changed and of course there is the other half of England to come, I suggest ancestry stop that and look at the transcription or potential lack of before it is released. In my view a bad index is worse than no index.

9 December 2011 at 2:35 pm
Brian Gare 

This is just getting plain ridiculous. Any birth place name in Surrey ending with HAM ie Peckham, Clapham etc has been indexed as HAM. There are thousands of them. Why on earth doesn`t Ancestry pull the plug and put it right before they carry on.

9 December 2011 at 7:16 pm
janet kiernan 

Have to agree with alot of the above comments, the search engine isnt working right either for Burnley in Lancs. I know the people are there from FMP and even putting all refereces in nobody from my tree comes up – so obviously another bad transcriber!! Although touch wood the Preston census seems to be ok for my family up to now.

Now ancestry if this doesn’t get sorted then I will be leaving ANCESTRY at the next renewal because I pay top wack approx £165.00 and I would rather wait a few months and you get it right

Also please use people from ENGLAND to transcribe as even though I have been lucky to find some of my ancestors there is still alot of mistakes

9 December 2011 at 10:27 pm

Looks like a mess to me looking at all the coments, I have let my subs lapse waiting for the 1911 census, I’ll just think I’ll wait a bit longer until things get sorted. As one person says it’s alot of money to pay out only to spend years looking for someone who you can’t find but is there only due to a transcibing error. Please get people in OUR country with a GOOD understanding of our language to do the transcribing

10 December 2011 at 7:18 am

I’m glad that Annabel says Devon is working at her end.

It certainly is not working at mine – even using the link she provided

10 December 2011 at 1:04 pm

#20 Martin … oh, Devon *is* there, but so far I’ve only found records from the following towns/parishes:

Great Torrington
High Bray
Littleham, Landcross and Northam
Wear Gifford and Huntshaw

For the rest of Devon, I guess you’ll have to wait until next year — that’s if you don’t give up and find a better service elsewhere!


10 December 2011 at 3:48 pm
hilary gunn 

Well hello again Annabel. We did let you know just like you asked in your post earlier, and guess what, it’s all quiet from your end…..AGAIN…..just like it was before during the last fiasco.

10 December 2011 at 4:12 pm

I agree that Ancestry’s Wales 1911 census, and the latest parts of the England 1911 census, are generally a poorer effort than any of
your previous censuses! I’ve made hundreds of corrections so far. The transcribers are obviously not native English speakers
as so many common English words are transcribed incorrectly:

“Colliery Proprictor’s Clerk”
“Sodging House Keeper”

Similarly, they seem to have very little knowledge about anywhere in Britain as the names of many well-know places are incorrect and they seem to have made no effort to check them?

“Fenny Compton, Warwickshire, Ireland”;
“Shrewsby, Shropshire, England”;
“Wohurhempton, Staffordshire, England”;
“London, Staffordshire, England”;
“Helston, Corunall”;
“Dunfermline, Flintshire, Wales”
“Wrexham, Tummeshire”
“London, United Kingdom” (The United Kingdom is not a genealogical concept!)

Frequently, they cannot even get the place-name, county and country in the correct order! In many cases they have not even attempted to add the county or country to place names.
So I would guess that the transcribers had no access to a gazetteer (or couldn’t be bothered to uses one?)

“North Wales” and “South Wales” are NOT countries, where entered on census forms they should be transcribed as “Wales”!

Obviously, no checking process has been done in the rush to get the data on-line??? A really shoddy job!

10 December 2011 at 5:41 pm

After checking some more, I wondering if it’s not some computer or programming error that’s causing some of the problems. As has been said above many place names have been shorten to the last part of the name as “ham” and “wall”. I’ve just come across a listing for someone born on the census in Billingshurst Sussex but transcribed as Hurst. Surely, this must be a computer related issue. I can believe someone transcribing this would completely miss the beginning of all these place names. Certainly not with this frequency. Ancestry, you really have to look at this quickly before you become the genealogical laughing stock of the world. Perhaps it’s already too late. In the very least you’re going to lose subscribers. There’s a lot of unhappy customers out here, and the customer is always right!

10 December 2011 at 5:54 pm

In answer to Gerald’s last suggestion of a computer programme (like that the British Library have used) it doesn’t answer the question of why when it says ‘London – Lambeth’ that only London is transcribed. I have discovered that both Devon and Devonshire (this would appluy to any county with ‘shire’ in its name) are in use in the transcription and that Derbyshire in England has been transcribed for Denbighshire in Wales, the clue is in the place of birth which looked very much a Welsh name and spelling. In addition even the address of the house on census night is wrong!.

I wouyld have thought that by know someone at ancestry is looking at our complaints, it certainly does nothing for tyheir reputation, perhaps they should have asked us to trancribe the census!.

10 December 2011 at 7:57 pm

I should spell-check my comments for transcription errors before pressing the add comment button!!.

10 December 2011 at 7:59 pm
Brian Gare 

Gerald – You may well be right. It seems as part of the entry for birth place has been chopped off. Woolwich is the latest bunch of failures I have just found but the same thing happened with Woolaroo Australia. They all come back as Wool. Your suggestion that it is a software failure seems sensible as I don`t believe anyone could be this incompetent. All the problems appear to relate to places of birth – so far! Whoever was the quality controller wants sacking.

10 December 2011 at 8:01 pm
Chris R 

I think half of Warwickshire hasn’t been transcribed either….just looked at the registration district Aston and Erdington – it has just one sub-registration district called “Erdinton”. You would think they could manage to transcribe the district names correctly, wouldn’t you? Anyway there only appears to be one set of images in this set – for the district hospital. I am sure there is more than a hospital in this part of Brum, isn’t there?

10 December 2011 at 9:58 pm

I agree with what others have said so far.

I thought I couldn’t be more appalled than I have been in the past over the poor quality of Ancestry transcriptions for the 1841-1901 censuses but 1911 has so far topped that. And this is after just a very small sampling of the entries (for England, but also Channel Islands and Wales).

These transcriptions could not possibly have been double-checked or edited in any way prior to being posted on this site. How Ancestry could have allowed it to be posted or how anyone at Ancestry thought that the quality of the work was even minimally acceptable is beyond me.

In the census for England, as already mentioned by others, errors in birthplaces — such as London, United Kingdom — are numerous. In these cases, the original entry does say London but this is usually followed by a London location — such as Limehouse, Whitechapel, Holborn, etc — which is completely missing from the transcription.

And then, as mentioned above, there are many many examples similar to the following (all in entries which are perfectly clear and legible) —

Ely, Cambs > transcribed Ridge, Cambridge
Castlecombe, Wilts > transcribed Combe, Wiltshire
Newmarket, Cambs > also Ridge, Cambridge
Portsea, Hants > transcribed Ham, Hampshire
Plaistow, Essex > transcribed Stow, Essex
Maidstone, Kent > transcribed Stone, Kent
Saxham, Suffolk > transcribed Ham, Suffolk
Rochester, Kent > transcribed Rochester, Chester
St Oswalds, Cornwall > transcribed Wall, Cornwall

What, if anything, will Ancestry do about this mess? With past censuses, the pattern has been to leave the original transcription intact — errors and all, no matter how numerous and obvious — leaving it up to paying subscribers to correct errors, if and when they choose to do so.

11 December 2011 at 8:28 pm
John U.K. 

I am attempting to submit the following on the Ask a Question page
Dear Sirs,
I am very concerned that you have been badly let down by the Quality Controll of the 1911 Census Schedule transcriptions.
Turning first to Birthplaces, There is a very large number ofplace-names unacceptably contracted or omitted. Here (with numbers) are a few examples of the contractions:
Ham [Clapham, Hampstead, Hampshire, c.] 104,130
Wark [Southwark] 64,307
Minster [Westminster, as well as Minster] 49,677
Oxton [Hoxton] 38,229
Wick [Warwick, Southwark, as well as Wick] 25,210
Ridge [Cambridge] 23,730
Ross[New Cross, King’s Cross, as well as Ross] 21,846
Wall[Cornwall, as well as Wall] 19,098
Ore [Forest Gate, Forest Hill, Bangalore, &c.] 15,276
Over [Dover, as well as Over xx] 11,812
Over, Kent [Dover] 3,387
Rand[Strand] 6,195
Wil[many places in Wiltshire] 4,058
Cam [Camden Town, Camberwell, Camberley, &c.] 3,981
Ompton [Compton] 3,886
Erith [Rotherhithe, as well as Erith] 2,351
Lifton [Clifton] 1,386
North [North Camberwell, as well as North Xxx]
In Camberwell 421

This would appear to be so widespread as to be a fault in the programming somewhere?

Turning to Omissions, not only are many, many birthplaces partially or wholly omited, so also are many surnames, as well as surnames entered in the Christian name field.

Kind regards,
John Henley

12 December 2011 at 1:05 pm
hilary gunn 

Unfortunately John I think you are wasting your time. Even if you manage to contact Ancestry I would be amazed if you actually got a response (although they are incredibly fast and efficient if you want to buy something!)
When there was a tremendous outcry of disgust from scores of people on this blog site over the non appearance of the 1911 census before, Ancesttry just sat it out and waited for the closing date for comments to arrive.There was no response from them after the initial announcement.
So don’t expect to hear anything this time either, the 22 Dec will soon come and they can ignore us again.

12 December 2011 at 2:51 pm
hilary gunn 

I also meant to say, but forgot, that if any of us bought a product like this in a shop we would expect our money back without delay. It’s certainly not fit for purpose and I believe previous claims could be grounds for mis selling.

12 December 2011 at 2:54 pm
Carol Coleman 

If you are searching for any relatives in Devon ,you will find that there is no one living in Exeter-the county town of Devon!

It’s a bit like the BMD indexes which ALWAYS put Harrow Middlesex down as Harlow Essex.

These should ALL have been transcribed by British people who know what a place and a county are,and how to read them.

12 December 2011 at 6:19 pm

Exeter appears to be ok under Devon or Devonshire but it is likely the name has been mis-spelt, anything with a F, T, N or W is a problem.

12 December 2011 at 7:42 pm

#34 David

Exeter maybe be okay as a birth place, but can you find any people *resident* in Exeter?
98% of Devon residents have NOT been transcribed.

12 December 2011 at 8:50 pm

I agree, Devon appears to have disappeared!.

13 December 2011 at 1:16 am
Ron Lankshear 

I assume Essex is not indexed yet. Why show counties in drop down list that are not there as yet. Why not show a message at top of page WIP in Progress with link to blog or something with transcription position

13 December 2011 at 3:46 am

Re: #1 through #36.

Not only that, but the idea that most of us would have **ancestors** living in London in 1911 is just fantasy.

And the Industrial Revolution had been complete for a good 2 generations before 1911: post-1900 is no kind of watershed at all regarding the IR.

Some factual historical reading is recommended.

13 December 2011 at 3:53 am

Just checked the comments again this morning and was quite shocked to see that Ancestry has not responded – must be christmas

13 December 2011 at 8:40 am
Mike Matthews 

I’ve also come across numerous transcription blunders. OK, sometimes the writing is poor, but I am not great at deciphering handwriting and I can see what it actually says, so why can’t the transcribers? What is more alarming is Ancestry’s total lack of response to all the above comments. Do they care about the quality of the service they provide? Methinks I’m off to FindMyPast when my current sub expires.

13 December 2011 at 10:22 am

Yes Martin, a very embarrassing silence from Ancestry!

13 December 2011 at 11:00 am
Annabel Reeves 

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Please rest assured that your concerns and feedback are being received and processed. We recognise that there are specific issues with the birthplace fields in a small number of cases. We have been able to identify that these issues represent approximately 1% of the records and are working on a solution. However, for the short-term this will mean that the ability to edit the birthplace field will need to be removed from all records until a solution is in place.

Specific transcription errors listed by people above, including by Brian Gare, Elizabeth Walne and BroMaelor, have been cascaded to the relevant team and are being evaluated. Someone will be in touch with you via email if further information is required.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these issues and hope that you can bear with us until we are able to resolve them.

For those of you who would like to discuss this further with a member of our Customer Support team, please call our free phone number 0800 404 97 23.

13 December 2011 at 11:07 am
Chris R 

Annabel – will we get the ability to update occupations or addresses? My g-grandfather is shown as a “stalion master” living in “Stalesen house” when in fact he had nothing to do with horses – he was a Stationmaster living in Station House !!


13 December 2011 at 1:47 pm
Chris R 

I can confirm what someone else said about Devon – it hasn’t all been transcribed. I have ancestors in Plymouth – couldn’t find them in the index, and when I looked at the images there was no sign of any transcriptions.

I also hit the place name problem – two ancestors called Carpenter living in Wandsworth had their places of birth listed as “Ham” when they should have been “Sparkbrook, B’ham” and “Aston, B’ham”


13 December 2011 at 2:50 pm

this just confirms why I never use Ancestry for census records… the transcripts on TheGenealogist are much better, think i’ll be sticking with them in future…

13 December 2011 at 3:38 pm

Below is my query to Ancestry and their answer which you may find interesting.

My query:
You advertised that more of the 1911 census, including Devon, was going to be available from 8Dec. I tried on the 8Dec and again today (13Dec) but I cannot find any of my Devon Ancestors and I know they should be there as they are on Find My Past. Can you please tell me what is going on?

Ancestry’s answer:
We appreciate your message.

We apologize for the issues you are having with the 1911 Census. It appears that many parts of the census that were supposed to be transcribed and indexed have not been. We are not sure if this is because the Index did not upload to the site properly or if there was a miscommunication as to which counties were being uploaded on the 8th of December.

We have reported this to the content team for their review and will include your notification in our report. Thank you for your bringing this to our attention

13 December 2011 at 3:53 pm
Nick M 

I agree. I’m glad I have a Gold Account with The Genealogist – it may be the only account I have next year, if Ancestry carry on like this. “In a small number of cases” ? Who are you trying to kid, Annabel ? It’s thousands of birth places affected! Whoever you paid to transcribe this, ask them for a refund !

13 December 2011 at 3:55 pm


I am afraid that this is not a small number of errors and in my view far more than 1%, if you look at the Strand Palace Hotel in London it appears that overseas visitors are not transcribed for their places of births, eg USA, Falkland Islands and New Zealand. It is clear that the problem in other parishes can be identified as only the last four or so letters of the counties or cities are transcribed, eg Wick, Church, Street and which are wrong and certainly not on the image, eg Kent but transcribed as Chester (Cheshire). Others issues are Hampshire being transcribed as Hertfordshire and “Gloucester Gloucester” where the parish has not been transcribed and in Marylebone where the the people who were born in Marylebone were not transcribed. The counties number more than actually existed. The names of individuals are also wrong and the issue that few occupations are correct or even close to being correct.

Whilst we can make some amendments they are so large in number and beyond the abilities of individuals.

13 December 2011 at 6:52 pm

Their denial of the problem is amazing. I’d actually say, it’s not 1% of the records that have a problem, it’s 1% of the records that DON’T have a problem. Of all the transcriptions I’ve looked at, most have glaring mistakes.

I’ve looked at some records and said to myself, I know this is the right family, but I don’t know how they managed to transcribe it correctly based on the handwriting and then further on in the same record is a mistake that my 11 year old could read. Very strange.

13 December 2011 at 7:12 pm

May I suggest that Annabel (Social Media and PR Manager) could “cascade” our concerns to an Ancestry Content Manager and request that s/he post a meaningful response.

13 December 2011 at 7:32 pm
hilary gunn 

I rang Customer Support with a query about free months subscription after purchasing Family Tree Maker, spoke to a delightful young lady with an American accent but she could not understand what I said and I could not understand her. She was very charming though and repeated all the right phrases before I gave up.
I would not attempt a conversation about something as complicated as this though and what purpose would it serve anyway? Are Customer Services going to correct the mistakes made by Ancestry’s management? I think not. However I’m sure they WILL have a stock of phrases to parrot.

13 December 2011 at 8:55 pm
Paul Towse 

Having worked in customer facing environments most of my working life it’s obvious to me that the public will complain about anything and everything under the sun.

In the past I’ve defended Ancestry against comments made by some subscribers because I believed that the subscribers in question were being unfair.

As far as the 1911 census goes, I’m not in a position to judge as I let my subscription lapse until the 1911 census appeared on here. I’d almost renewed when all of the comments started appearing on here and that made me stop and reconsider.

What does irk me however is the complete lack of “customer service”.

This website is, to all intents and purposes your “business premises”. The subscribers pay their entrance fee in terms of a monthly payment, a yearly payment or credits and are then free to access whatever sets of information their subscription covers.

Yet, when these same subscribers raise an issue about the 1911 census it takes FIVE WHOLE DAYS for someone from Ancestry to respond.

Hardly the great customer service that the Americans are supposedly so good at. I suspect many subscribers would have felt a little better with a “we apologise for any problems and we’re looking into the issues raised” message posted earier as they would then have known that Ancestry had acknowledged the issues that they had been identified and had responded.

To my mind, Ancestry really does have an excellent website containing a wealth of information but your customer service skills on this site really do need to be improved hugely.

It’s almost like wondering into a shop with a query and not being able to find anyone at all to speak to.

How would you feel about that as a customer Annabel?

I’m sure you’d find it unacceptable.

So, if future, could Ancestry please pull it’s socks up and respond to serious concerns like those above within 48 hours, even if it’s only to say “we’ve noted your concerns and we’re looking into them”.

That’s hardly asking for the moon is it???

13 December 2011 at 9:28 pm

It is pretty annoying to see such a basic mistake as indexing counties under Salop when that is the abbreviation/name for Shropshire. The logic would be to start with the counties that were known to exist and to use them as the standard, not to have numerous alternatives which would only cause problems for researchers and perhaps Ancestry can look into this. It is ‘disappointing’ to see Hants (Hampshire) also being replaced by Hunts (Huntingdonshire) for places such as Portsmouth.

There are sometimes issues with the standard of images especially when the page is smudged or 1/3rd of its had disintegrated/fallen-off and I can see problems in such cases but there seems little to defend when the the image is clear and has just not been transcribed. If ancestry have identified only 1% of errors then that is worrying because I would say you are looking at a minumum of 40-50% if not 100% in some cases, on one page I found 15 errors. If there has been widescale non-transcription then I think ancestry need to look at their instructions to transcribers. In theory all indexes to the same records should return the same entries but here they don’t and the question is whether the Welsh census is missing some pages as there are far less people born in Cardiff than I would have expected.

14 December 2011 at 2:19 am

I note that comment (42) from Annabel does not actually mention the problem with Devon, but that Rosemary (comment 46) has ben told ” It appears that many parts of the census that were supposed to be transcribed and indexed have not been.” and that they are not sure why.

It a good job they are not a commercial company we pay good money to……………….OH they are

14 December 2011 at 8:36 am
hilary gunn 

Never mind Ancestry! Only another week to sit it out then comments will be closed and you can ignore us with a clear conscience because no one will be complaining then will they and there won’t be a problem after all.
Silly us. And we thought we paid you!

14 December 2011 at 9:09 am
Elizabeth Walne 

Just an update re Norfolk.

So far I have only found parishes in four registration districts with any kind of indexing. This leaves 18 of which I have not seen any trace.

Those areas that are showing up are by no means complete. Norwich for example has less than 10,000 occupants when it should be around 120,000.

It seems to me that ‘fully searchable’ means something very different to Ancestry than to anybody else.

Please, please, please publish a list of those RDs/EDs that are available, and those which are not. I say this not for myself as I have subscriptions elsewhere, but for all the Library Edition users across the UK that have been waiting for these indexes for a very long time.

Another correction that needs to be made to a parish name is ‘Kettleburgh’ in Suffolk, which even in the Census Summary Books is down as ‘Nettleham’.

14 December 2011 at 10:24 am

I think Elizabeth is right about Norfolk, there were 117,989 entries in the summary books but only 41,982 in the main census. If you take Devon there were 166,395 entries in the summary books but only 8,321 in the main census. Assuming that there would be about 4 people in the main census to each summary entry then we are are missing about 630,000 people in Devon and 280,000 in Norfolk. This is a bit more than a 1% error rate.

14 December 2011 at 2:07 pm

Population statistics from the 1911 cenus (Vision of Britain website):

Norfolk 499,116
Devon 690,993

#55 Hilary
There’s always the message boards:

14 December 2011 at 2:58 pm

Most of mine and my wifes ancestors come from Warwickshire and the Birmingham area. As yet I have only found 3 families on the 1911 census out of about 24 to 36 obviously that is roughly about 10% where are the rest? I assume you are still transcribing Birmingham even though it is Warwickshire or have we got the same problem as everyone else on this blog

14 December 2011 at 3:44 pm
another nick 

this is getting to be a joke as i seem to be spending all my time fixing transcription errors ,so of which are quite basic . obviously done on the cheap with no checking . come on Ancestry get your act together

14 December 2011 at 6:09 pm

There should be a disclaimer at the bottom each indexed page: “Warning this index is made in India/China, it is not intended for actual usage, it is merely for show! No animals were harmed during the making of this index. Do not use this index for extended periods, as it will make you sick. Any additions, deletions or changes that have been made; tough. Live with them.”

14 December 2011 at 7:23 pm

I was under the impression that it was to be transcribed in the USA. On a disclaimer perhaps a note on the lines that there is no guarantee to the accuracy of the transcriptions!.

14 December 2011 at 8:09 pm

Its clear to me that many of the problems with the transcriptions are a software/wetware(people) problem. The person starts typing in the place name and the software predicts what is going to be typed and presents a list of possibles, in this case it would seem the person always selects what ever is at the top/bottom of the list. So Westminster always occurs as Minster, Fulham is always Ham. Now the rate at which this creats errors means that it would be impossible for it to be limited to 1%. The disapointing things is the lack of checking before release. I would be shot if I let something go live without checking. If I was the CEO I would be roasting people in the company car park right now.

14 December 2011 at 9:11 pm

I’m only fairly new to but I was under the impression that a transcription was only accepted for inclusion in the database after it was entered by 2 different transcribers and the results agreed, if they differed in any way the transcription would be reviewed by a supervisor and corrected before release. This would seem to be a good method to eliminate errors but it appears not to have happened with the 1911 census.

15 December 2011 at 12:47 am

Thanks again for all of your comments. Please be assured that we read every comment and are looking in to this as a matter of urgency. It is of course of utmost importance to us that our customers can search our databases effectively. We understand your frustration and are grateful for your patience. More soon.

15 December 2011 at 1:07 pm

Annabel, your last comment seems to have gone through the same transciption process as the 1911 Census. It says “We recognise that there are specific issues with the birthplace fields in a small number of cases.” when you obviously meant “We recognise that there are specific issues with the birthplace fields in a huge number of cases.” 😉
Also, it is not just the birthplace field that is affected – names, occupations and addresses are equally poor. Sometimes the efforts of your transcribers are so poor, it’s almost like a festive game to work out how they managed to reach their transcribed entry. Maybe “in a small number of cases” this is due to poor handwriting, but mostly due to poor transcribing. I hope Ancestry kept the receipt for this, so you can get your money back.

15 December 2011 at 4:30 pm


Thank you for your reply to us. On a rough estimate against the census statistics for 1911 it seems that there are about 1.75-2 million people missing from the current database. The counties that are affected with missing people are:-

Cornwall: about 300,000
Cheshire: about 54,000
Devon: about 680,000
London: about 100,000
Norfolk: about 450,000
Warwickshire: about 10,000
Worcestershire: about 460,000

In addition the following have too many people:

Nottinghamshire: about 92,000
Yorkshire: about 100,000

In addition there are additional and /or duplicate transcriptions (due to the city and shire name being similar, eg Derby/Derbyshire):-

Chester: 41,664
Derby: 124,738
Leicester: 230,178
Nottingham: 261,124
Worcester: 15,170 (this is out of 11,260 Summary Books entries which does not tally, they can’t all be single households).
York: 82,619

There is the case of Devonshire but since so many people are missing it seems a bit pointless to mention that county.

What would be useful to know is how did you get the transcriptions in the first place, was it computer-generated or human-generated as we need to believe that the rest of the England census will be any better. Surely the transcriptions should have been double-keyed and spot-checked as it would have been obvious that the numbers of people and transcriptions were way off and much different from a 1% error rate. What is frustrating is there are people with no names transcribed or not transcribed fully and as a transcriber and checker I have not come across so many errors in one collection. What has not been explained is how there are a number of different errors, if it was a computer-generated programme then you would expect the same sort of mistakes happening and the London entries would have had something for the parish where it has been in the image.

Incidentally the figure at the top of the article on this page is for Inner London, including the City of London. The City of London is regarded as being the old City boundaries being “the Square Mile”.

15 December 2011 at 5:57 pm
Crys Smith 

I notice that Ancestry are still being exceptionally quiet about when the rest of the 1911 census will be available. I renewed in January this year as we were promised that the 1911 census was imminent. What we got was the summary books which unless you have an unusual surname are next to useless. My relatives live in Portsmouth and it takes an age to find the correct enumeration district and then to search sometimes through 100 pages.One year on and still no word as to when fully searchable records will be available for all counties and even when they are online there is no guarantee that they will be accurate so I am seriously thinking of switching this year until the records I need are all done. Ancestry – why cannot you be honest and let us have an honest answer so that we can decide if your product is fit for our purpose!

15 December 2011 at 8:08 pm

It appears that Bangalore has/is being transcribed as Ore, not the one in Sussex.

16 December 2011 at 3:08 pm

It would appear that even royalty has succumbed to the pitiful transcribing of this portion of the 1911 census. One of Queen Victoria’s daughters, Princess Marie Louise is transcribed as just Marie Louise with the unfortunate occupation of being a Trimmer(whatever that’s supposed to be). Her lady in waiting is now a Lady in Waitress!

This is starting to be ridiculous.

I wonder how the King made out on the census? Perhaps he’s been reduced to some menial job?

Anyone who finds him please post the link.

16 December 2011 at 3:31 pm
Annabel Reeves 

Firstly, we would like to thank you all for your comments. We know how passionate our members are about their family history research and seeing that writ large on our blog recently has been both inspiring and intimidating in equal measure! It also concerns us greatly when we receive feedback that there are problems with our record collections. We can assure you that we investigate all such instances and certainly don’t take our members for granted. Unfortunately, some of our databases are so large that getting to the root cause and understanding the true extent and nature of the issues can take a while. That has particularly been the case with the 1911 England & Wales Census, so we thank you for your patience.

Most of the specific issues reported have centred around problems with the birthplace field in a minority of the records. Some of you have already correctly identified that this has not been caused by a transcription error but a glitch in how our systems are presenting the data. While we know what the problem is, developing and implementing a solution is not always quick or easy but we assure you that we are working hard to fix it.

The problem is restricted to a minority of records although we realise that it might not look like that if it affects an area of your own research. We also appreciate quite how frustrating issues like this are but we hope you will bear with us while we implement a permanent fix. Unfortunately, we are unable to commit to a timescale just yet due to the challenges detailed above but we are working to resolve it and promise to keep you posted.

One of the other issues raised involves the incompleteness of some counties. To address this we have compiled a full status update, county-by-county, below. Six of the counties are currently missing substantial parts of the material, including Norfolk and Devon, and four other districts are very nearly complete but have a small number of missing records.
We apologise for not communicating this clearly enough. We didn’t believe, and still don’t, that we should sit on partially complete counties when there are records that are ready. We know how important the 1911 Census is to our members and wanted to make the indexed records available to them as soon as possible.

Complete Counties:

98% Complete:


Thank you again for all your comments, your custom and your participation on this blog. Hopefully we have addressed some of the issues raised here. We will continue to provide you with regular updates on our progress. Again, we very much appreciate your comments and feedback.

16 December 2011 at 5:47 pm


Thank you for the detailed response.

It has become apparent the transcription of birth place-names is not just a “minority of records” but the vast majority of records and given that places described as, for example Ham or Ore is a problem in that the correct parishes of those names should not be amended. You mention that Rutland has been completed but also that it is ‘partial’. I notice you don’t mention Wales, there is a problem with Welsh place-names for non-Welsh speakers and are obviously a problem. As has been identified the occupations are in most cases wrong and far from being correct that searching under occupations is pointless. What is more concerning is that the census address are also wrong.

In my view researchers need to know what has been completely transcribed, which you described as “fully researchable” and what has not and this as you have indicated was not indicated as this can lead to incomplete research. When the 1911 census was released before ancestry it was released on a selective basis in groups of counties and it was in most cases correct. I believe that complete counties should only be released when they are of an acceptable standard.

16 December 2011 at 10:25 pm
Judy Webster 

I’ve had a much easier time with census searches on The indexes are much more accurate; and when I’ve submitted a correction FindMyPast has fixed it within a day or two.

16 December 2011 at 11:04 pm
Seonaid Lewis 

I have to echo Judy’s comments on FindMyPast UK. 1911 Census has been available for a couple years on this site. Its my first stop for any UK searching.

16 December 2011 at 11:55 pm

I was just about to give myself a Christmas treat of a subscription to Ancestry. It is a very costly item from New Zealand. I am so glad I came across this blog site first. I think I will spend my money elsewhere.

Strange not one compliment for Ancestry. Anyone else would be charged with misleading advertising.

17 December 2011 at 2:25 am

It is beyond comprehension how Ladywood in Birmingham is described as having a district called Lady Woon. It means the whole of that area is wrong. Each area has a page that states what the registration district is and Lady Woon is more apt for a film than a census. There are so may versions of transcribing the Scottish county of Moray (otherwise known as Morayshire)and Belgium is not in India. What is even more odd is that given ancestry is an American company that even people from the USA aren’t transcribed as coming from the USA and left blank.

In my view common sense should have occcured, eg people aged over 100 attending school and being about 50 years older than their mother and people being born in the 1790s, there are people who are over 100 years old but 120 years old, I don’t think so.

18 December 2011 at 12:57 am

Judy, the point you make is very important:

“… when I’ve submitted a correction FindMyPast has fixed it within a day or two”.

Of course when we make corrections to blatant errors on Ancestry they are NEVER “fixed”, they are merely added as “alternatives”. Ancestry can never admit they are wrong!!!!

19 December 2011 at 3:27 pm

My congratulations must go out to George Wilfred Robertshaw who has won the contest for the oldest person listed on the 1911 census so far, at the grand old age of 121, narrowly piping Walter Fish who came in at 120 Amazingly, both these individuals are around 80 years older than their parents.

I guess that there must have been something in the air in those days, because there’s a whole slew of centenarians listed that are waaaaaaay older than their parents on this census. Truly amazing!!!!!!

I hope I’m that lucky to show up like that in a hundred years or so.

19 December 2011 at 8:47 pm

I cam across an interesting case of Evelyn Lawrence Dunlop (private secretary) aged 26 5/12 years and her sister Olive Jocelyn Dunlop (historical author and Secretary to the Women’s Suffrage Society) aged 27 8/12 years. Apart from the places of birth both being very wrongly trasncribed they have been transcribed as both being born in 1911. This is not the only case of head of households having children whilst as head they were all born in 1911, quite amazing back in Edwardian days.

19 December 2011 at 10:40 pm

Just found my great grandmother in the 1911 census, but no thanks to the Ancestry transcription which was obviously done by someone without any knowledge of Britain. Her place of birth on the form says IOW Ryde, which has been transcribed as LDW Ryde.

If you did not know that Ryde was on the Isle of Wight (IOW), 10 seconds on Google would have shown that LDW was rubbish.

Add to that the mistranscribed middle name (Haward instead of Howard) and the fact that she had moved from the IoW to Coventry leaves me feeling very lucky to have found her.

Ancestry never wanted to bother with this Census in the first place, I sure everyone remembers the comments when they pulled out of the bidding for the early release. Now we have had this reinforced by the obvious use of the ‘B’ team on the transcription. Can you imagine the row if this was a US Census!

21 December 2011 at 1:55 pm

It is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that the County of Essex has been even partially transcribed.

Precisely FOUR people from one family in Essex have been indexed.

21 December 2011 at 4:19 pm

I would be surprised if the US census was any better. What is not acceptable is where the image says people are dead that they are indexed under the surname Dead and not their surname, including one person transcribed as Born Dead. In addition people who will be transcribed twice because they were not in the house on census night. Other examples are people born on Isle of M (and listed in the next entry as the Island of Mauritius) whereas the Isle of Man is abbreviated as IOM.

21 December 2011 at 4:26 pm

I’ve found that the transcribed birthplaces for people staying in hotels in central London are a quagmire of error after error after error, on almost every line of each page.

Mercifully, though, the occupations are almost always correctly transcribed — unlike the nonsensical gibberish in occupations found in the 1911 Channel Islands or Wales censuses.

Many of these London hotels have an international clientele — and sometimes staff — so there are many different birthplaces listed.

However, countries and other locations which are clearly readable are very often left completely blank, time after time — eg. Holland, The Netherlands, USA, United States, Japan, Turkey, Chile, Cuba, Luxembourg, California, Amsterdam, At sea, etc.

But, for some reason, countries such as Switzerland, Germany and France are almost always transcribed and correctly too. Uruguay, however, is mistranscribed as Hungary.

It’s also typical that many entries are only partially transcribed, eg. entries saying London but also including a specific London place name such as Whitechapel, Westminster, Bow, Hammersmith, Bermondsey, Lambeth, Fulham, etc. say only London (in the United Kingdom!)

Other examples of this type are below (showing what actual entry says, followed by what has been transcribed) —
Burlington, Ont., Canada > Canada
Chicago, America > United States

Then there is the supposed computer glitch which chops up words, again resulting in only a partial transcription. This has already been mentioned by others in examples such as Ham (for Clapham, Peckham, etc) or Wall for Cornwall.

Here are more examples, again showing the actual entry first, followed by what the transcription says —

New Cross, London > Ross
Overstrand, Norfolk > Rand, Norfolk
Pettistree, Suffolk > Street, Suffolk
Copenhagen > Hagen
Brockley, Kent > Rock, Kent
Singapore > Ore
Gibraltar > Alt
Croydon, Surrey > Roydon, Surrey
Strand, London > Rand
Charing Cross, London > Ross
Birmingham, Warwickshire > Wick, Warwick
Birkenhead, Cheshire > Esh, Cheshire
Crewe, Cheshire > Rewe, Cheshire
Kirkcaldy > Caldy
Wallingford > Wall
Hastings > Asti
Buenos Ayres > Ayr, Scotland
Australia > Aust (as the birth city)
Antrim, Ireland > Trim, Antrim, Ireland
Christchurch, New Zealand > Church, New Zealand
Ballymena, Ireland > Bally, Ireland
Rhode Island, USA > Rho
Somerville, Massachusetts, USA > Wil

Also, locations ending in “chester” — such as Manchester or Colchester — are repeatedly transcribed with Chester in the birth county field.

Entries which say New York, USA or New York City are repeatedly mistranscribed as York, York, England.

Entries which say Glasgow, Lanarkshire are transcribed as Glasgow, Scotland with Glasgow as the birth county.

Entries which list the birthplace as New South Wales (then say Australian in the following field) are transcribed as —
New, New South Wales (with New in the birth city field and New South Wales as birth country)

In many cases, absolutely nothing is transcribed in the birthplace field even though there is a birthplace plainly there in the original entry. And entries which include specific locations in English counties are transcribed as follows —
Bristol, Gloucestershire > Gloucester, Gloucester
Bradford, Yorkshire > York, York
Grimsby, Lincs > Lincoln, Lincoln

And lastly, Jack Straws Castle Hotel in Hampstead is listed in the transcription as Lack Trans Castle Hotel.

I personally view this shoddy work as insulting and disrespectful to Ancestry’s paying subscribers.

21 December 2011 at 8:39 pm

The list just gets worse:-

Rawalpindi (down as Rawal Pindi)is not in Pakistan in 1911, Pakistan didn’t exist until 1947, as most people know;
Wexford is listed as England and not Ireland.
Aust is also the transcription for Austria (ie the Austrian Empire);
Thun transcribed for Lithuania, there is a Thun in Switzerland;
Russia not transcribed;
One person listed as two seperate people although there are brackets showing it was one person.

The list is a joke with so many variations that you could write a book of possible spellings and almost totally unuseable and transcribers should not have to such a situation, it should not be up to subscribers to alter the transcriptions, it should have been in a fit state. The transcriptions are just bad transcribing. If I was the CEO I would be asking who put this awful list out.

21 December 2011 at 11:21 pm

Since comments are closing tomorrow I thought I would sum up.

Lots of comments – nearly all negative

Nothing posted from Ancestry since the 16th despite a promise of regular updates

my feelings

That they are a large global company who family historians pay a huge amount of money to in order to access records.

If they want to hang on to their long term subscibers in the current financial climate, they are going to have to take a long hard look at


Thats it – I feel better now – Merry Christmas

22 December 2011 at 8:50 am