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Queen Victoria

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Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria

Even Queen Victoria wasn’t above being recorded on the census! In 1841 she’s listed on the London census, living at Buckingham Palace with her beloved husband Prince Albert.

Victoria was a well-liked royal: intelligent and determined, she displayed a strength and aptitude for decision-making that won her great popularity with her subjects, and seemed at odds with her youth and femininity when she first ascended to the throne. She was the first royal to live in Buckingham Palace, moving in 3 weeks after her accession in 1837. By 1841 she had been Queen for four years, and had married Albert the previous spring. They had had their first daughter, the Princess Royal; and their family was to grow considerably with six more children by 1851. They had to renovate the Palace in order to accommodate more nurseries, and a new east wing and ballroom to house the spectacular costume balls and entertainments they held throughout the 1840s.

In 1841, the extent of the royal household is illustrated by the long train of inhabitants listed after the royal family: including entries such as the Earl of Aboyne, a Lord-in-waiting; Edward Praetorius, secretary to Prince Albert; and James Woods, a valet. Other job titles are less opaque: William Peel is given the somewhat mysterious label ‘Page of the Presence’; and the Queen has a ‘Cabinet Maker’, Joseph Martin, on hand.

Queen Victoria in the 1841 census

To view the full page (in Acrobat format), click here.

The Earl of Aboyne, Lord-in-Waiting to Prince Albert, also had the title Marquis of Huntly, both hailing from Scotland. In the village of Aboyne, the first Earl was commemorated in a local folk song, which details his travelling to London:

“Oh, the Earl of Aboyne to London has gone and all his nobles with him
Sad was the heart of his lady fair because she could not go with him…”

One of the Earl’s descendants had clearly followed suit. This census return also illustrates the influence of German connections on the royal household: Prince Albert, previously Victoria’s first cousin from the royal German house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, has two ‘Jaegers’ on hand (jaeger from the German jäger, meaning huntsman). Albert was a famously enthusiastic hunter, and the jaegers presumably accompanied him on his frequent shooting trips. Baroness Louisa de Lehzen, who hailed from Coburg, is another interesting figure. She had been Victoria’s childhood governess and was the young queen’s closest confidante; so much so that prior to the royal marriage, her rooms at the Palace adjoined Victoria’s.

Her occupation isn’t stated on this census return, as by this stage she was simply an invaluable personal resource to Victoria; but she apparently insinuated herself into all parts of Palace life and particularly into the running of the nursery. Albert is said to have disliked de Lehzen immensely, seeing her as a malign personal influence on his wife; and when the Princess Royal fell sick in 1842, seized the chance to have her dismissed.

Queen Victoria in the 1851 census

However, Victoria and Albert’s marriage was generally a famously happy one. After Albert’s early death in 1861 Victoria descended into a mourning from which she never completely emerged, refusing most public engagements for more than 20 years; and wearing only black until her own death in 1901.

Despite her great affection for Albert, there’s one famous reversal on the Royal census entries: in 1851, Victoria’s household position is ‘Wife’ to Albert’s ‘Head’, despite the fact that she was the sovereign head of the British Empire. By 1861, though, she has become aware of this anomaly, and is listed as ‘Head’ while Albert has been firmly demoted to ‘husband’!

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria at the time of her Golden Jubilee (1887)

If you have no idea where your ancestors lived you can use the search tools at www.TheGenealogist.co.uk which allows you to search across all of England and Wales.

Find out more about the UK Census and life in Britain in 1841 on the UK 1841 Census website:

UK 1841 Census

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