Pricing and future subscription options

There have been many comments on the PayAsYouGo pricing and the fact that older censuses are nowadays available via subscription packages on other sites such as and

To be clear - there will be a subscription option later in 2009 which will allow you to access the 1911 Census for a fixed fee. This will only be available on will remain as a PayAsYouGo site.

Like the 1901 census - the only other census to make its original debut online and many other major releases of historical records (such as BT27 passenger lists on and DocumentsOnline at The National Archives), the site has been released on a PayAsYouGo basis to allow the general public (the vast majority of whom want only a few records) to access the records without buying a hefty subscription. We believe this is fair, as everyone gets charged for what they use.

The prices charged on the 1911census site reflect the significant costs in digitising the records and providing the online service. See our earlier posts for more detail on this and the cast of hundreds involved. We will add more information to the main site soon under the “How we digitise the census” section, but those of you who saw the TV news reports over the past few days probably have some idea of the scale of the project. Also see our post below for some video footage of how we digitise the census (apologies that it is as yet mostly unedited).

Earlier censuses cost significantly less to put online because:

  1. they were *much* smaller
  2. some of them were already filmed and did not need to be conserved, curated and lovingly scanned and checked by hand
  3. the online storage and retrieval costs of many more, higher-quality colour images is greater.

The 1911 is a different beast to earlier censuses and, we hope you’ll agree, provides rather a refreshing change in the level of detail provided.

We understand that heavier users (especially family historians and those researching one name studies) will want an “all you can eat” option and we’re committed to providing that on later in 2009. However, we cannot do it until the records are complete and as this is a moving target it would be unfair to give you any precise date, as it would be largely a guess.

For dedicated family historians with many ancestors to find, the price for each item will be cheaper within the subscription option available later, although the initial outlay for a subscription is higher, but for most people PayAsYouGo works out as a lower overall spend.

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126 Responses to “Pricing and future subscription options”

  1. Kyle Oakeson Says:

    I saw an article and a number of comments on another a blog about why this census, being owned by the government, should be freely available to all since tax payer money was used to create it in the first place. However, it is apparent that the process of digitisation of such a large project no doubtedly cost millions. If the government footed this massive bill, that means that every UK citizen, regardless of their interest in actually looking at the records, would have had to contribute their share. In a time of economic grief and government spending cuts, such a scheme seems very hard to justify to the average tax payer. However, allowing this project to be privately financed, in effect, levies the tax on only those that are interested in accessing the records. This latter scenario seems to me by far the most fair. Perhaps, in time, the cost will go down, or maybe some day it will be available for free. But if you want it now, it looks like you get to help pay for it.

  2. Mark Field Says:

    Thanks for giving us an answer to the subscription/price debate.
    Would the census be part of the existing “findmypast” subscription that a lot of us have and enjoy using or would we have to take out another subscription just for the 1911 census. (which I hope is not the case)

    Many thanks

  3. Mac Says:

    Congratulations on a robust statement in defence of your position. Disappointed as I have been with the price and the limits on functionality, I understand 100% what the reasons are for them and look forward to the future subscription package. I don’t suppose you’ll let on, but I’m interested in what your future licensing plans might be? How many months/years before you’re willing to licence to other providers? Is there anything in your contract with the National Archives which commits you to enabling wider access in the future?

  4. Steve Says:

    Whilst I perfectly well understand that the process of bringing the census to the public is not without its costs and as a commercial organisation you are wishing to maximise your returns. The charges, for me at least, are prohibitive and if you are unable to determine the individual you are searching for with at least some degree of certainty the costs blossom (as indeed will your revenue).
    Surely a reasonable solution would be to provide the place of birth in the search summary. Go on, how about it?
    Live up to your statement on your company home page.
    “At brightsolid we work with you, not against you. “

  5. iantester Says:

    There is a place of birth field included in the search fields which can be used to narrow the results and make sure you have the right ancestor…

    Unfortunately including it within the results would require losing another field which we do not think would be a good solution for most users.

  6. Graham Says:

    It says that 22.9 million Page Impressions were made in the first 48 hours - does this mean over 44 million pounds in revenue? That will certainly help pay off the cost of the project - which was how much in total ?

  7. iantester Says:

    @Graham - It means that people viewed 22.9 million separate pages on the website, but categorically not ‘original pages’ (i.e census images). Otherwise we would be on the beach in Ipanema, rather than replying to blog comments! ;-)

    Unfortunately as a private company, we do not release financial figures of the total cost of the project as a. it’s commercially confidential b. we are still halfway through it so do not have a final figure. However, I can confirm that the costs so far are in the millions of pounds.

  8. Graham Says:

    Re. my earlier comment, I was just trying to get some idea of the actual scale of the project because I think it was several years ago when things started but it would be interesting to know how many man-years of effort were required. I know how long it takes me to scan one page on my home scanner!

    It would be nice to have a new section in this blog about the more technical and practiacl issues of scanning this massive amount of material so that everyone can better understand …

  9. iantester Says:

    And you shall have it! We will be putting a comprehensive section on the main website soon under “About the census: how we digitise the census”

    It is a hugely complex process (and perhaps because I’m sad) it’s also hugely fascinating. Working out the man-years figure would provide a huge number - it will definitely be in the hundreds if not low thousands.

  10. iantester Says:

    But our scanners are pretty high speed compared to a home scanner!

  11. Callously Ripped Off By Find My Past Says:


    “REMINDER: only 2 days left to get 15% off all subscriptions

    Dear Gullible,

    Just a quick reminder that you only have two days left to claim the best prices you will see in the next 12 months from Choose 15% off any of our subscription packages.

    This offer is only valid until midnight (UK time) on 2 January 2009 - so now is the time to set yourself up for a happy and low-cost 2009 on findmypast.

    Why join now? 2009 is going to be a big year!

    2009 will see us finish our new versions of the last two England & Wales censuses (1851, 1901), add images to the 1881 census, and most importantly, will see us add the brand-new 1911 census later in the year.

    We will be the only website to include the 1911 census next year, meaning will be the only place to find the complete censuses 1841-1911. “

  12. iantester Says:

    To the poster above - do please tell me which part of the email which you have quoted is incorrect, fraudulent or misleading? Whilst we’re on the subject of misleading, I am sure we did not start the email “Dear Gullible”.

  13. Marie Says:

    I also feel strongly that place of birth should be included in the search results.

    Yes, it’s true that you can enter a place of birth in the advanced search, but it will only find a result if it matches what the person who completed the form actually wrote. This can vary quite a lot - people were not always very accurate or consistent about their birthplace, quite apart from spelling anomalies.

    At least if we could see the entered place of birth in the search results, we could rule out those that are out of the question.

  14. Callously Ripped Off By Find My Past Says:

    Since you so smugly ask, Gullible will have to oblige and rub your nose in the mess you have made. Your unsolicited & repeated bullying to subscribe to your rather shoddy services turns out to be for a subscription that actually has nothing to do with the 1911 census, so why spend so much time & space mentioning it - other than to create the false impression that the subscription includes or will include the 1911 census?

    Duh, “Why join now?” “Most importantly, will see us add the brand-new 1911 census later in the year.” “We will be the only website to include the 1911 census next year.” Is that clear enough for you, iantester? It is rather obviously misleading and fraudulent to the rest of the English-speaking world.

    Also, while we have you here by the short & curlies, why do you state 10 credits for a “transcription” instead of the “partial/incomplete transcription” we gullibles are disappointed to receive? Call me cynical gullible, but the distinct lack of an address in the transcription leads me to believe that you are trying to force us to pay an extra 30 credits just to get the address we should get in a complete or normal transcription - ie, every single other census transcription except your 1911 rip off.

    Try googling “1911 census rip off” and there is already a long list of disgusted non-gullibles who refuse to be ripped off!

    You have obviously designed your search facility for subscription services to be as slow & torturous as humanly possible to gobble up credits, so why not use some of the vast monopolistic profits filling your coffers to finally invest in decent search algorithms?

    Yes, this Gullible would like his money back. Find My Past has been caught with its pants down & brutally rogering gullibles without so much as a kiss, a transcription address or a decent search facility :(

  15. John Says:

    I agree with Marie that seeing the place of birth in the search results would help to narrow down searches. As she says, the name can vary, it would be a shame if you couldn’t even get the basic search results on the 1911 search results that were available on the 1901 search results.

  16. Graham Says:

    I think I know what “Callously Ripped Off …” is talking about - the email he received did suggest that a subscription taken out before 2 Jan would give access to the 1911 census. As we now know, subscriptions will allow access to the 1911 census but later in 2009 - not now.

    Personally, I would be annoyed if I had taken out a subscription only to discover that I couldn’t access the 1911 census.

    I cannot see why subscriptions should not already be allowed to access the 1911 census. Or, at the very least, we need to be given the date e.g. 1 March 2009, so that we know how many credits we are going to invest in.

    With the present pricing structure, my research is limited by the amount of money I are willing to invest.

    The only way I can justify (to myself) investing in this project is by considering the train fares that I would have spent to go to London to access records (in the past, this would have been the only option). May be that is still an option if National Archives give free access to the 1911 census from the reading rooms at Kew. I have not checked this option because of the cost and practicalities of getting to Kew.

    I used “1837online” from the start since this was reasonably priced (by credits) whereas the new “crazy” prices are a result of the genealogy industry that has emerged over the past few years. I feel very sorry for anyone on a limit budget, pensioners and school-age children (many youngsters do a genealogy project for school).

  17. iantester Says:

    @ Callously ripped off. The address is on the transcript, at the bottom of each page, along with the piece reference number. It would be nice if you can confirm that the information you claim is missing is in fact there.

    As to “unsolicited and repeated bullying” - you opted to receive emails from us when you registered with and we sent a grand total of 2 emails about our subscription offer over Christmas. If you really regard our emails as bullying and wish to change your preferences, there are 2 unsubscribe links on every email or you can make the changes within “My account”.

    Unfortunately your comments disqualify you from the kiss, but we are happy to provide you with the “missing” transcript address (available on every transcript since launch) and as we mentioned the search facilities will be unlocked soon.

  18. Mark Field Says:

    Just reading “Family History Monthly” Feb issue, page 11 news, there is the following quote reference subscription of 1911 census

    “Eventually it will be made available for free to FindMyPast subscibers and then other family history websites”

    Any comments?
    I take it from this, that I will not have to take out another subscription for 1911 census, it will be in with my present subscription.

  19. John UK Says:

    It is good to see Ian responding to the issues raised on these blogs.
    I wonder if any more thought has been given to my suggestion made during the Beta testing, that purchasing the image also gives free access to the transcript of the image. This would enable those purchasing the Image to easily make corrections to the transcription, thus improving the service for all.

  20. Jo Says:

    I can see where “Callously etc” is coming from. Being a realist (some might say cynic), I read the subscription ads very carefully in conjunction with the available 1911 info, and worked out that 1911 would not be immediately available to subscribers.

    However, it was not explicitly stated, and many people paying less than 100% attention will have had the impression that if they bought a sub, it would include 1911 access from the start.

    In my opinion, the ads were very cleverly phrased to catch people out, without making any technically false statements. Shame on you.

  21. atlooncall Says:

    Will existing “explorer” subscribers with findmypast be allowed to access the 1911 census? Or will we have to purchase an “add-on” subscription? I can’t seem to find a definite answer to this!

  22. peter cooke Says:

    i have found your site infuriatingly innacurate in the transcription of the data. Errors abound (personal names, place names, even the word ‘niece’ is spelt ‘neice’) making it difficult to find what one is looking for. And all this at a rdiculously high price for minimal informationObivously you famred this work out to people who know little about english names and spellings - or were just paid by piece work without adequate cehcks on the results.

  23. Dixie UK Says:

    In a similar vein to John UK, I suggested in feedback that the 10 units charged for a transcript should be refunded to accounts for those purchasing the relevant original image in the same session. During the Beta test I initially had difficulty in accessing original images unless via the transcript window, thereby incurring a total of 40 units for an original image and the privilege of paying for submitting transcript corrections!

    In the interests of preserving my pension, I had been listing future essential purchases using the ‘free’ searching facilities but - what the hell - I might not live to see incorporation of the 1911 Census into a subscription package! Also, the subscription packages are not the be-all and end-all we are led to believe. Terms and conditions attached prove that ‘unlimited access’ is a misnomer: we can expect a rap on the knuckles if we exceed 1000 units per month!

  24. Graham Says:

    I agree with Jo, I think the least Findmypast can do is to apologize for any confusion caused and extend the subscription of anyone caught out by X months.

    Where X is currently unknown but equal to the number of months for which subscriptions do not cover the 1911 census e.g. if made available on 1 April 2009 but a subscription was taken out on 1 Jan 2009, X is 3 …

  25. iantester Says:

    @ peter cooke.

    Transcription accuracy levels are actually pretty good - over 98.5% accurate (across 7 billion keystrokes) which is remarkable for a census where every single piece has different handwriting (vs previous censuses where enumerators compiled summaries making accurate transcription much easier).

    We will post separate information about the Quality Control processes we use later but rest assured that we paid a significant amount of attention to this and are pretty pleased with the results.

    However, there will always be an element of inaccuracy in transcription (even if you give an original page to 20 experts, they will usually come back with several different transcriptions as we have recently demonstrated in tests).

    As mentioned before, wildcard and variant searches are coming soon - please see the (many) other posts on this.

  26. Marie Says:

    But Ian, when you say “transcription accuracy levels are actually pretty good”, do you mean that original spelling mistakes on the form have been deliberately copied?

    I’ve seen an example where the surname is correctly spelt for some of the family, but misspelt for one member, where it should clearly be the same. If someone has written, for example, Stephens as Stphens, it makes it hard to find them unless they have been indexed under the correct spelling as well.

  27. iantester Says:

    @Marie: Our policy is to transcribe exactly what was on the form. So if your ancestors made spelling mistakes (and many did) these will be reflected on the transcript.

    I saw a transcript the other day with what looked like 8 or 9 awful and obvious transcription mistakes on it. When I looked at the original image, not a single one was a transcription error - all the mistakes were made by the householder originally!

    What always surprises me though is the high level of literacy in 1911 - my ancestors were of humble stock and the handwriting and spelling is nonetheless generally excellent.

  28. Marie Says:

    But that approach seriously reduces the effectiveness of the index! I agree that the transcription should reflect the original, as we are not always in a position to judge what was correct.

    But when it is a case of an obvious spelling error, surely it’s sensible to transcribe the conventional spelling as well? Stphen is clearly meant to be Stephen, so why not include both in the index?

  29. Tracey Says:

    I renewed my ‘Explorer’ subscription with findmypast in view that they had the rights to the 1911 census, so I am now somewhat disapointed that I am unable to use my current subscription to access the census - hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    I have e-mailed findmypast twice to ask if existing ‘Explorer’ subscribers will be allowed to access the 1911 census, but am yet to receive a reposnse!

  30. Tracey Says:

    On an addtional note; reading ‘Callously Ripped Off By Find My Past’ blog above, how can findmypast make the following statement:

    “We will be the only website to include the 1911 census next year, meaning will be the only place to find the complete censuses 1841-1911.”

    How is the 1851 census complete? It is only searchable for two counties Dorsetshire and Norfolk, this is far from complete!

  31. iantester Says:


    There are some counties still to come on both 1851 and 1901, and we were clear about that in our email - which you’ve quoted from selectively.

    Both will be complete later in the year at approximately the time 1911 will move to findmypast. At that point, “ will be the only place to find the complete censuses 1841-1911″.

    It’s all about context.

    If you had also quoted the paragraph before this sentence, you will read: “2009 will see us finish our new versions of the last two England & Wales censuses (1851, 1901), add images to the 1881 census, and most importantly, will see us add the brand-new 1911 census later in the year.”

  32. Mark Field Says:

    When one reads “later in the year”, I assume that means the second half of 2009.

  33. Nev Paddy Says:

    From what I have read the Government made another grave error in allowing one company to purchase the 1911 Census. They have the monopoly over the 1911 Census and can simply do and charge whatever they deem fit to secure a very healthy profit from a very gullible public. I thought there existed in this democracy of ours a policy to keep prices in line with affordable fairness and taking into consideration business competitiveness. I believe that just about sums up this debacle, or should that read greed as with the banks.

  34. Tracey Says:

    Thank you for your response Iantester, but from what exact date will those of us who have subscribed (or even resubscribed like myself) to findmypast believing that they would beable have access to 1911 census?

  35. John E.Forth Says:

    I find it almost fraudulent that have taken a subscription and not made it crystal clear, before people commit funding, that there will still be a payasyouview fee for the 1911 Census. Those of us who have been researching family history for some years already pay dearly for the priviledge of accessing data. Surely it is incumbent on those providing acess to do so clearly and transparently. We now find it impossible to contact as their phone line is now out of use and they do not reply to emails. How does one proceed in trying to claw back a useless subscription?

  36. iantester Says:


    The phone line is working - I can see people talking to customers on it now: 020 3326 6300. Or email and we will get back to you within 2 working days.

  37. Clive Brown Says:

    Just to let you know that I am distinctly unimpressed by your reply, and the misleading information given on your website.
    If it had been made at all clear that a subscription did not include access to the 1911 Census, I wouldn’t have bought one!!!
    After all the link to the 1911 Census is one of the first things to be found on the Findmypast home page.
    Looks to me like a deliberate attempt to deceive the customers, and I would have thought Findmypast should be above that sort of thing.
    Clive Brown

  38. Prue Says:

    Ian must be in training for a political career - come on, what are the answers to the two questions which many of us want to know:
    1. Will existing Explorer subscriptions include access to the 1911 Census at some stage? if so
    2. When?

    Simple questions deserving of simple answers, please.

  39. Dixie UK Says:

    Ian chose to ignore my remarks concerning the misnomer for the payment option ‘Subscribe’ - ‘unlimited access to your family history’.

    These are the subscription terms for the Explorer package:
    ‘The Explorer subscription entitles you to unlimited access to all records on the website, excluding Living Relatives where you will have ten free searches per annum (or pro rata for a shorter subscription). The Explorer subscription does not cover access to the military memorial scrolls.’

    However, the ’sting in the tail’ comes further down in the small print under ‘Fair usage’:
    ‘We regard as excessive any usage that exceeds either an average of 1000 units per month over a rolling three-month period, or 200% of the average usage for all subscribers, whichever is the greater.’

    Can subscribers expect a threefold increase in this RESTRICTION OF USAGE to accommodate 1911 Census or should we be referring et al to Trading Standards?

  40. Dixie UK Says:

    Here’s another absolute ‘gem’ - extracted from fmp’s website:

    ‘Why subscribe to
    It’s free to search on findmypast but to view the original images you must be a paying customer. With our subscriptions you no longer need to worry about how many credits your research will involve; you have unlimited access to the relevant records for the duration of the subscription.’

  41. Tracey Says:

    Iantester - I e-mailed for the second occasion on the 13th January, it is now the 22nd January, how is this responding in two working days??

  42. Tracey Says:

    I have sent another e-mail to info@findmypast at 8.30am today and will let you know if and when I get a response, and whether or not I actually get a straight forward answer to my questions or just automated response.

  43. iantester Says:


    We are determining this (pricing and potential release date) at the moment. Once we have done so, the first people we will contact are our existing subscribers. We will put this information on the blog shortly afterwards.


    Please remember that a findmypast subscription applies to records available on the website, not records on separate sites (e.g When the 1911 records appear on, a subscription offering will be made.


    Our fair usage policy is clear and available on the website - indeed you quote it here. It forms part of our Terms & Conditions and is designed to prevent large organisations and professionals taking advantage of our services, which would increase the price of subscriptions for general users. In this way we can keep the costs of a subscription down (compare the records available at the price to competitive services) and corporate users are subject to a separate charging scheme.

    There are some moderate restrictions on subscriptions but your ability to quote them here at length shows that we are upfront about this - there is nothing “sneaky” going on.


    I will contact you off list and try to find out what has happened to your enquiry - that’s well below our service levels and we will investigate.

  44. Mark Field Says:

    You say you are determing the “price and potential release date”.
    From this I read that the 1911 census will be a subscription package at some time but not in with the existing subscription package that a great number of us have. So would we have to have two subscriptions? Or are you going to put 1911 in with the existing subscription package but put the price up!

    I sent this earlier

    “Eventually it will be made available for free to FindMyPast subscibers and then other family history websites”

    any comments


  45. John Says:

    To be able to carry out an intelligent search, and not waste loads of money viewing irrelevant TRANSCRIPTS, it would be very helpful if the PERSON SEARCH RESULTS listed the RELATIONSHIP TO HEAD and WHERE BORN.

    This is not a “comment”, it is a serious criticism, and one I hope will take seriously.

    My complaint is that once you have done a search, and potentially produced tens or hundreds of candidates (e.g., Williamses in Wales), you have to pay potentially many times before you can find the information about WHERE BORN or RELATIONSHIP TO HEAD, upon which you could narrow down which records you might wish to pay to view TRANSCRIPTS or ORIGINAL PAGES from.

    This lack of functionality looks like a blatant attempt to increase revenue by forcing subscribers to view more actual TRANSCRIPTS and/or ORIGINAL PAGES than they really need to, to be able to find the individuals they want.

    Adding an extra field or two to the PERSON SEARCH RESULTS wouldn’t be difficult, and would take up much space (perhaps a slightly smaller font might be required).

    Until such extra fields are added, or subscription becomes available, I will stop searching.

    [PS: The use of capitals is to identify terms that uses, to reduce the chances for misunderstanding]

  46. Darren Says:

    How do you know that your transcriptions are 98.5% correct, unless you look at every one (or even a sizeable random sample of them) and compare?

    For example, one of my families has an “Erenst” in it, whom I know to be Ernest. I’ve not looked at the image (since I’m not going to pay £3.50 for the privilege, but I would bet it’s not spelt like that on there). In other searches I’ve seen numerous examples of transposed letters, e.g. Geroge, Geogre, Herny, Hreny, etc. and these look like the sorts of errors made when typing rather than writing.

  47. Dixie UK Says:

    I was not even aware of the ‘Fair usage’ policy when I renewed my subscription [after much pressure to do so]. I wasn’t even aware of my actual usage or that it was excessive until I was alerted AFTER I’d renewed my Explorer subscription.

    I’d be interested to know exactly just when the policy was introduced because I certainly wasn’t aware of it, having accepted the reassurance statement ‘you no longer need to worry about how many credits your research will involve’. Had I known, I doubt that I would have renewed my subscription.

  48. iantester Says:

    @Darren - we use the “sizeable random sample” methodology to get these figures, using several different organisations to look at the same sample to ensure a fair count.

    @John - you can narrow your search initially using both or either of these fields in the advanced search options - hence your results will be pre-filtered and narrowed down.

    @Mark - that quote is from Family History Monthly rather than so I’m not in a position to comment, but their editor might be! My answer to Prue earlier covers this for the moment.

  49. pen Says:

    I only have 3 points to make and I have made them on the web site and finally got a response after 4 days.
    1. why cant I see the entire contents of the image when I buy the transcription. It isn’t a full transcription, I want to see all of it please including the how many children.
    2. If I buy the original why cant have the transcription as well.
    and or
    3. Why not let me have 10 credits when I correct your errors which I have already been doing, some of which are errors, not copies of the original (errors).

    I’m sorry but this just does see like a wonderful opportunity for us all that is beyond the reach of most of us. This is because of the high charges and lack of empathy toward those of us who don’t just want one or two census images, and would like the originals. In fact all of us family historians want the originals don’t we. But cant afford them. Maybe if you made them 20 credits a lot of this criticism would die down. 30 is just too much, especially at this time.

    Perhaps a bit of thought and discussion on some of the points made here would not go amiss. The rush will die down and you will be left with us for whom Family History is our hobby. We are keen, but not wealthy.
    Why not make it more reasonable for us please.

  50. Anne Says:

    like a lot of others on here, I feel that findmypast has duped us into taking out a subscription thinking that we would be able to see the 1911 census. I also e-mailed them to let them know how annoyed I was & asking if my current subscription would allow me access to 1911 census, but they haven’t answered that question - I see you can’t answer it either!

    With so many people asking the same question shouldn’t someone, somewhere try to come to a decision??

    Needless to say, I wont be renewing my subscription - I’m only sorry I can’t get a refund.

  51. John Littlefield Says:

    Is it not possible to give a discount to pensioners who for some Family History is their only interest/hobby ?

  52. Dixie UK Says:

    As a ‘Silver Surfer’ - I intend to revert to visiting my local County Record Office to transcribe the documents that are unlikely otherwise to be made available to the masses online. It’s ‘payback’ time for all the benefits I’ve received from like-minded family history philanthropists of the past. Not only will my health benefit from activities other than sitting before a computer screen, my income will not be drained by the greedy entrepreneurs who seek extortionate profits from OUR PERSONAL FAMILY HISTORY.

  53. John Says:

    In reply to iantester’s comment (January 22nd, 2009 at 4:59 pm) that you can narrow your search initially using both or either of these fields in the advanced search options, yes you can, BUT you don’t know what your ancestor put in those fields. This is the point of these complaints.

    Regarding RELATIONSHIP TO HEAD, if they weren’t at home, they might have been visiting, a boarder, a servant, a sailor, a prisoner, etc., etc.

    Regarding WHERE BORN, I have ancestors in North wales in other censuses that put Adwy, Adwyr, Adwy’r, Adwy r Clawdd, Bersham, Wrexham, and Denbighshire. This was when they meant the same place. You can’t predict what they would have put, and they all cover the same place. Sometimes they put other villages/towns down. Wildcards aren’t much help here.

    The above doesn’t include the many, many mis-spelling or mis-transcriptions, which you can see until you see what was transcribed or actually written.

  54. Nick Says:

    I only began family history research a few months ago and I recently subscribed to findmypast because a. it offered a special deal (15% off) and b. it was to offer access to 1911 when it arrived. Lo and behold the arrival of 1911 is heralded across findmypast and when I click on it I’m told I have to pay ! I e-mail 1911 to complain and am told its pay now or wait until whenever…. I think at the least we have been misled by findmypast and at worst we’ve been conned. Guess who won’t be renewing with findmypast when my subsciption lapses ? They’re fools to themselves for not being accurate about our access to 1911. Why didn’t findmypast say in the first place subscribers would not be able to access 1911 until much later after its arrival ? I think an apology is due from findmypast for being economical with the truth.

  55. iantester Says:

    @Nick - Please read the email from findmypast which has already been posted on this thread. It clearly says that the 1911 census will be available on the website “later in the year”. I am not sure where you read that the 1911 census would be available on from launch but it certainly was not from us!

    Let’s be clear - a subscription to gives you access to the records on - not the website! The 1911 census will be available on subscription later this year with full details to follow.

  56. Jo Says:

    “The 1911 census will be available on subscription later this year with full details to follow.”

    But will the existing subscriptions allow access to it?

  57. mark Says:

    I have asked the same question but no answer as been forth coming.
    I suspect like you and the rest who have a subscription with “findmypast” we would like the 1911 census in with the subscription we have already and not take out another subscription.

  58. Tracey Says:

    ‘Findmypast’ has been both very crafty and very greedy here. Myself like a lot of people on here will not be renewing their subscriptions so they are fools to themselves. I think an apology to their current customers is long over due.

  59. Jo Says:

    I suspect there will be a new, more expensive package including 1911. I doubt existing subs will cover it, otherwise they would say so plainly. My bet is subscribers wanting 1911 access will have to pay for an “upgrade”.

  60. Jo Says:

    Seems I was right -

    “The census will be available on later this year, as part of a brand new subscription package. Existing subscribers will be offered an add-on package at a preferential rate. ”

    What a con.

  61. Anne Says:

    you’re right Jo - latest e-mail from findmypast:

    The census will be available on later this year, as part of a brand new subscription package. Existing subscribers will be offered an add-on package at a preferential rate.

    They can go whistle for it! I certainly wont bother to upgrade - or renew my subscription.

  62. Ian Hedges Says:

    Like many others here, just after Christmas, I got an email offering 15% off any subscription before the 2nd January. The email went on:

    Why join now? 2009 is going to be a big year!

    2009 will see us finish our new versions of the last two England & Wales censuses (1851, 1901), add images to the 1881 census, and most importantly, will see us add the brand-new 1911 census later in the year.

    We will be the only website to include the 1911 census next year, meaning will be the only place to find the complete censuses 1841-1911.

    This implies that by subscribing, you will have access using your subscription during 2009 to the 1911 census.

    From the subscription usage terms:

    The Explorer subscription entitles you to unlimited access to all records on the website, excluding Living Relatives where you will have ten free searches per annum (or pro rata for a shorter subscription). The Explorer subscription does not cover access to the military memorial scrolls.

    The Explorer subscription gave unlimited access to all records on the website and the 1911 census was coming in 2009 to the website, this meant that by subscribing I would have unlimited access to the 1911 census at some point in 2009. On this basis, I figured I couldn’t go wrong and so I invested in an Explorer subscription to give me access to the 1911 census later in 2009.

    Today I received the January newsletter. This states the following:

    The census will be available on later this year, as part of a brand new subscription package. Existing subscribers will be offered an add-on package at a preferential rate.

    If this isn’t included in the Explorer subscription, this seems like blatant false advertising when I was sold the subscription. I have emailed findmypast for clarification.

  63. TRISH Says:

    I am a new subscriber tO FIND MY PAST-at no time before you released the 1911 census did you indicate that it would be a separate pay site-I would have thought the top subscription would cover it-I am sure if you included it there it would be fair & reasonable & those wanting to view that census only -would be happy to pay by credits-I think your returns would be greater if you had done it that way .I know it s all about how much profit you can make-but I don’t think you have not made any new friends over this issue & probably lost a lot trusting subscribers.

  64. ann Says:

    I have been buying find my past subscription for a good few years now, because i do the family tree i use it quite a lot, but now i need to use 1911 and i have just paid for a year subscription to find out i have also to pay credit for 1911.
    I agree with Jo , I am so disappointed how this has been handle because i would not have minded if you had put the year subscription up alittle bit but to ask me to buy another subscription for 1911 its not on

  65. Dixie UK Says:

    Can fmp be talking with 2 voices:

    (1) Findmypast subscriptions cannot currently be used on, but in the future the 1911 census records will also appear on, where they will be available as part of a subscription package that provides unlimited access to the records for a fixed annual fee. [Extracted from the fmp website.]

    (2) The census will be available on later this year, as part of a brand new subscription package. Existing subscribers will be offered an add-on package at a preferential rate. [Extracted from
    January newsletter above.]

    No prizes for spotting the difference between inclusive and bolt-on!!

  66. mark Says:

    Well well what a surprise it’s not going to be part of an existing subscription package. I like most renewed my subscription with the hope that later in the year 1911 census would be in with my subscription pakage. If I knew that after payperview it would still not be in with an existing subscription package but cost more to add on, I would not have renewed. I am sure it was known that it would be an add on from the outset so why not say so.

    I contacted Ancestry to ask if they would ever get the 1911 census I quote their reply

    “ is keen to include the 1911 Census in our census collection - the most comprehensive collection of British censuses available online - when we are able to do so, however due to the nature of the distribution agreement with The National Archives, this census is currently only available pay per view via the 1911 Census website. It is not yet known when it will be available to publishers to provide within a subscription service. ”

    So all is not lost with Ancestry and I bet it will not be an add on if they put it on line.
    By the way their reply was very quick (less than 24 hours).

    I have twice submitted errors on transcription (the same error), no reply yet.

  67. gman Says:

    I too was conned into renewing my subscription by being lead to believe it would include access to the 1911 cencus.
    Looking back at emails recieved it appears to be a blatant “MIS-DESCRIPTION OF GOODS OR SERVICES” in order to encourage persons to part with money for something the vendor had no intention of supplying.
    A Trading Standards referraal on the way I think Ian.

  68. Aussie Researcher Says:

    Like all those complaining about access to the 1911 Census via their FindMyPast subscription, I understood that it would be part of the top package. Fortunately only one branch of my family were in England in 1911 but so far I’ve only found one of them. The rest are missing and NO they never lived anywhere but in Surrey.

  69. Anne Says:

    I’ve just e-mailed trading standards regarding this, so I’ll wait & see if anything happens.
    Will update when I hear anything.

  70. Bruce Hart Says:

    From the many comments written to date , Find my Past management should be deeply embarrassed at their poor and frankly extortionate pricing strategy of the 1911 census.
    I have researched my ancestors for over 40 years and I have waited a long time for the 1911 census which is key to resolving many of my family issues. For me ‘Brown of London’means possibly looking through dozens of census records and at £3.60 a look, possibly 50 hits could cost me over £180. For a pensioner this kind of charging is a disgrace - particularly that if I struggle upto the National Archives at Kew it is freely available. I thought that the census was owned by the Government in which case under the freedom of information, they should be available free, on line, to the public. It appears that as the 1911 census cannot be accessed by using any other geneology site, Find my Past is in a monopoly position to charge what they like. If the charges are being levied by the Government via Find my Past then clearly, representations need to made to the media and the relevent government minister, This I am quite prepared to do. Perhaps you will inform on who exactly is mandating the current charges.I was about to sign up to a Find my Past subscription to gain access to the 1911 census, but obviously I am one potential customer you have lost, as I suspect will be the case for many other pensioners who spend much time on this enjoyable but frustrating task.

  71. iantester Says:

    @Trish: we sent several emails to users last year telling you about the launch of the 1911 census on and linked to the standalone site. Tens of thousands of findmypast users signed up to the 1911census site via these emails.

    @Ann: if you are a subscriber already, we will provide you with a discount on the cost of upgrading to the new “including 1911″ subscription. So actually the net effect will be very similar to that of a small increase in the price of a subscription to get access to the 1911 records as well.

    As always, we will provide the best prices to existing subscribers via our “Best Price Guarantee” loyalty discount.

    @Dixie: I might be missing something here, but I cannot see the difference in position between the 2 statements? They both say the same thing.

  72. Anne Says:

    thats the whole point - we should have been told that the Explorer subscription would not include the 1911 census. You can’t tell me that it was
    suddenly decided not to include the 1911 census in the subscription until AFTER 2nd January - which is when the discounted offer ended???
    What I paid for was “unlimited access to all records on the FMP site”
    You don’t offer ‘add-ons’ every time you add more of the other census records do you ? Or do you??

  73. Ian Hedges Says:

    @Anne: I will be interested to see Trading Standards response. I emailed on Friday and haven’t had a reply yet.

    The thing that it really annoying is the indication that by joining you will get access to the 1911 census later in the year:

    “Why join now? 2009 is going to be a big year!

    2009 will see us finish ….. census, and most importantly, will see us add the brand-new 1911 census later in the year.

    We will be the only website to include the 1911 census next year, meaning will be the only place to find the complete censuses 1841-1911.”

    This clearly leads anyone reading it to believe that joining will give access to the 1911 census. If this was not the case, as an additional subscription would indicate, then the 1911 census should not have been advertised as a reason for joining.

  74. ann Says:

    because i am already subscriber, how much discount do I get, when do I get it and how do I get my upgrade

  75. atlooncall Says:

    Good point Anne! There was no increase or add-on when they brought in the 1851 census.
    I have made good use of my Explorer subscription but took it out mainly for the 1911 census. If anyone gets a “petition” going, sign me up!

  76. Geoff Moody Says:

    Being a keen Family Historian for many years I would like to add my own thoughts to this debate.
    Firstly,the early release of the 1911 must be welcomed,as is all the information now available to Family Historians on the internet.
    I have every sympathy with disgruntled fyp subscribers.Having said that,it was always going to be thus.Business is business I’m afraid.I personally think ALL census returns should be available free,not just in Record Centres,but on-line.It is part of our heritage after all.

    As for accuracy,I believe the Census returns should be indexed in conjunction with local Family History Societies,who may well know who the majority of the people on the returns are.They could provide the correct information,we can see any possible mistakes ourselves once we find the right entry.Some of the place & name spellings are just ridiculous.I have many census returns on disk issued by FHS this way and it makes it so much easier.Obviously the major cities would be difficult,but certainly rural areas would be possible.

    I have used the 1911 to find my nearest & dearest,mainly to check if there were any children who were born & died between other Census returns.Now I have done that,and as I have many hundreds of relatives to find,I will forget about 1911,apart from Record Centres, until it becomes available as part of a reasonable subscription package in future years.I have more than enough on my plate with the present data available!
    Once the next Census,1921,is released,what will the armchair researchers do then?As there is nothing until 1951,I presume interest will wane?Just be folks like me who used,and still do,slog round record centres all over the country.Pass my pipe and slippers mother!

    Good hunting!

  77. Andre Says:

    I’m not sure it’s fair for the people running this site to profit off transcription errors.

    I was searching for my grandmother. She just wasn’t in the transcribed version that I paid 10 credits for. This 8 year-old girl just was not with the rest of her family. I paid another 10 for the house next door. Not finding her, I searched for others with the same name, and paid for several transcriptions.

    Frustrated that I could not find her, I almost gave up. Then, something made me buy the scanned image for her original family. There she was, in clear handwriting. The line simply was not transcribed at all.

    Listen, I understand that mistakes happen, but I spent a small fortune in credits searching when she wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

    Multiply this by many people likely going through the same thing, and is raking in a mint of extra income due to the errors in their transcription.

    Not fair. How about when we point out an error like that, you give us some credits - both for our out of pocket, and as payment for finding YOUR mistakes for you?

    Also, after reporting the error over 3 weeks ago, the transcription still has not been updated. How about getting around to fixing the mistake I found for you (at my own expense)?

    Oh, and your prices are a rip-off. Wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t wasting credits due to your errors.

    After reading the above comments about the email sent to Find My Past customers, this explains everything. You were clearly misleading these people. This casts your reputation in stone for me.

  78. iantester Says:

    @Andre: if a person from an original page was missing from a transcript, please report this to Customer Support. They can both refund you and look into why this happened - this is not a known issue so we have not come across it before.

    Transcription updates occur monthly as detailed elsewhere on this blog - you changes from 3 weeks ago (i.e at launch) should therefore appear in the next 10 days.

  79. Paul Yeoman Says:

    I was going to subscribe thinking I did have access to 1911 Census. I won’t bother now, but perhaps wait to see when unlimited searching becomes available - if and when.

  80. Andre Says:

    ianster said “They can both refund you and look into why this happened - this is not a known issue so we have not come across it before.”

    I think not. Here is their response - and they won’t be getting another cent out of me:

    Dear Andre ******,

    Your enquiry has now been resolved. Please find the answer to your enquiry below:

    Thank you for contacting

    Although we do endeavour to keep the quality of transcription on the censuses to a high level, it is inevitable that some errors will occur, sometimes owing to the poor legibility of the census images used by our transcribers and sometimes due to typing errors.

    We were contracted to deliver quality above 98.5% across all fields in the census which has been comfortably exceeded. We take accuracy of our records very seriously and will continue to carry out post standardisation processes where possible as well as checking and processing customer transcription comments.

    Please remember that the transcription is only designed as a research tool to assist you and we do always recommend that you view the original census image for confirmation of the information.

    In the meantime, please accept our apologies for any frustrations the transcription may have caused you.

    Kind regards

    The 1911 Customer Support Team

  81. Andre Says:

    After complaining further, they have given me some credits back. Thank you.

  82. iantester Says:

    @Andre: glad to hear it, was going to raise it with them. Have a good weekend.

  83. ann Says:

    iantester you did not answer my question which was

    because i am already subscriber, how much discount do I get, when do I get it and how do I get my upgrade.

    or dont you think its worth answering

  84. iantester Says:

    @ann: sorry that we cannot give you this information yet. We will set prices and the upgrade mechanism nearer the time of the release - when we do, our subscribers will be the first to know. However, you have our guarantee that the price for existing subscribers will be the best available.

  85. ann Says:

    thank you

  86. john Says:

    Just found this blog after spending a few minutes wondering if anybody else perhaps felt a little misled by recent months advertizing on the website. Quite a few it seems! The line that convinced me to re-subscribe was ” Premium subscription giving access to new information as soon as it goes live”, plus a telephone call to the info’line questioning the soon to be available 1911 census. I have worked with contracts/agreements etc for many years, and I am glad that I am not the only one to feel misled that we have to pay extra for the 1911 census. I hope that when this new bolt-on is offered to us subscribers it will be for only a small percentage of the yearly fee we have already paid, but I won’t be holding my breath!

  87. Dave Says:

    You have a head start with the 1911 census. Just think how much of the market you could corner by charging more affordable prices. This is a golden opportunity for you. Do not mess it up by driving customers away through overcharging.

  88. Dixie UK Says:

    Ian’s quote: ‘………. you have our guarantee that the price for existing subscribers will be the best available.’

    How comforting [not]! [yawn] As you have the monopoly, won’t it be the - non-negotiable - ONLY available? Or are you considering 2-tier ‘premium’ [aka Explorer] to accommodate the 1911 bolt-on?

  89. iantester Says:

    @ Dixie UK: sorry, perhaps we weren’t clear. Existing subscribers will be offered the upgrade at a lower cost than new subscribers.

  90. Tony Says:

    By ‘existing subscribers’, do you mean those that are currently subscribed or does it apple to anyone who takes out a new subscription prior to the 1911 database being available as part of the site?

    ie is there any point in me taking out a subscription in a couple of months when my subscription to another site runs out, or would I be better waiting until the 1911 census is available on FMP.

  91. iantester Says:

    @Tony: yes, the preferential upgrade price will be available to all those with a current Discovery or Explorer subscription at the time the 1911 census is released on, including any that subscribe in the next months. There is no cutoff date.

  92. ann Says:

    Not only do I have to pay credit for 1911

    I have just brought 60 credits for living reltives I have seen nothing and it gone down to 12 credits

    Your site lately is pissing me off

    If I keep having to pay I will look for another site


    Ann Finn

  93. iantester Says:

    @Ann: Gosh, a rude word. If you are having issues with the site (vs the one), please raise it with the Customer Support team. There is also a blog.

    Unfortunately on a commercial website, you do have to pay for the records: there are a range of excellent free websites available, although they may not have all the records you are seeking.

  94. ann Says:

    Dear Iantester

    Sorry about the language but I have subscribe to this site for years I am annoyed that I have to pay for 1911, but when I buy 60 credit for living relative and don’t see nothing and I loose all the credits, you can see why i am a bit p….d off
    What are these free websites that are available,


  95. Anne Says:

    @Ann: good luck if you e-mail FMP -I e-mailed them to complain about the rip-off and I got a reply 10 days later THANKING ME FOR MY SUGGESTION???
    Do they even read the e-mails?

  96. iantester Says:

    @ann: the way living relatives search is a little strange because we use data from a third party who charge you per search (regardless of whether it find results). This is clearly marked on the search screen. However we are looking at ways to improve this.

    Your best bet for free genealogy websites is to have a look at Cyndi’s list and also the excellent

  97. ann Says:

    I brought 60 credit for living relative and don’t see nothing and I loose all the credits
    You misunderstand what I meant I put one surname in there was no record of that surname so my credit of 62 ( I already had 2 credits) went down to 32 credits, so I came out of the site to do something else went back in and my credit went down to 2 credits

    I have complained to you and support, you are the only one that has answered. All I wantr is my 60 credits back. I am going to e-mail support again


  98. mark Says:

    Just read on another blog subject,

    Iantester states that the subscription option will be launched in the summer
    No mention of price though. I await with baited breath that it will not be too much.


  99. Dixie UK Says:

    Methinks FMP’s ‘bait’ has taken my breath - and trust - away!

  100. Graham Says:

    Summer? English summer? Indian summer? I wouldn’t mind betting that FMP have their own definition of summer. Probably best to wait for another site to get the 1911 census - even if it is in 2011 that is when it would have been expected. I’m ready to give up and admit that this census release has been a major disappointment.

  101. iantester Says:

    @Graham - you are of course entitled to your opinion. However, I don’t think it’s outrageous to ask you to wait a few months for a subscription option to become available (after the census is actually completed).

    We have explained the reasons we only give outline dates rather than utterly unrealistic ones which we may or may not hit. We don’t believe in giving you arbitrary dates and disappointing you later.

  102. mark Says:


    You say you only give outline dates on updates etc. Was saying that extra images within a month will be available on every original image not a realistic date? As that month has been and gone and it could be awhile yet.


  103. iantester Says:

    @all: we have found some problems with the cropping of the original images which means they are going to be delayed whilst we rework them - unfortunately this was not obvious until they went into Quality Control. Current ETA is April.

  104. Anne Says:

    I don’t know whether this will appear on the blog, but I have at last heard from my local trading standards.They have passed the details to the City of London trading standards as FMP are situated it their area and they await their reply.
    They have also advised me to send a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority - which I have done today.

  105. 1911 census - Family Tree Forum Says:

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  106. Jacky Says:

    I also got “duped” into renewing my subscription.
    Why Oh Why did the 1911 census not go to the LDS they have managed to keep their site free and have been a great help to me over the years, and they are getting better all the while,

  107. Janet Says:

    I am also having problems. I wanted to view an original (I have the transcript) but I kept getting a ‘not available’ page. The little box turned to red and I was advised (after enquiring) that I would be informed when the image was ready to view as images ‘are added daily’. One day the little box turned back to ‘30 credits to view’ and I was overjoyed. My joy was shortlived as the image STILL is unavailable. My tear stained message was ignored this time. Please help, Iantester

  108. iantester Says:

    @Janet: can you let me know the piece reference number - this will be on the transcript and is the long number at the bottom beginning RG14….or just give me enough detail to track down the person in question via the search….

  109. Janet Says:

    The number is RG14PN1850 RG78PN1112 RD391 ED5SD1
    I don’t know if you need all those numbers, but the head of household is Charlotte BIRD age 55 Divorced Shopkeeper living at 1 Bridget Street New Bilton Rugby.

    Many thanks

  110. Janet Says:

    CORRECTION; Sorry! Number begins RG14PN18590….etc

  111. iantester Says:

    @Janet: thanks for that - now seems to be working OK (aren’t you lucky, an original form so full that only 1 row is free!) - are you still having problems?

  112. Janet Says:

    Thanks for checking. I need to buy some credits; I will do that this afternoon. Huge family, wasn’t it? I will let you know if I have any problems with it.

  113. Janet Says:

    I now have the image. Thanks for your help; much appreciated

  114. BRIAN Says:




  115. BRIAN Says:




  116. iantester Says:

    @ brian - or you could, more reasonably, contact the Customer Support team who will be glad to help you.

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