It seems many of our ancestors were animal lovers, even going so far as to record their pets on their 1911 census returns. Some of our customers have been unearthing some rather touching records such as that of Mr and Mrs Arthur John Delve in Smethwick who recorded their pet dog, Biddy at the bottom of their household form. Biddy was described as the couple’s “faithful Irish Terrier Bitch, Magnificent Watch, a demon on Cats and Vermin, age 11 years”.

Inclusions like this one emphasise just how special the 1911 census is, being the first census for which householders’ original census returns have survived. Had the household schedules been destroyed like those of the 1841 – 1901 censuses, we would never have seen that the Delves even owned a dog, let alone that she was clearly considered one of the family. The inclusion would certainly have been lost in the census enumerator’s summary. Census returns like the one above can provide incredible insights into our ancestors’ personalities which allow us to begin building a much clearer picture of who they really were.

Do let us know if you’ve found any examples of pets in the 1911 census. You can do so by commenting on this post or by writing on our facebook wall.