In 1790, the first federal census records were recorded. Another census was taken in 1800, but none of the records for Virginia from either census are still extant, except for those from Louisa County (printed) and Accomack County (microfilmed).
Some of the 1810 census records are also missing. The missing 1790 census records were partially recreated from the tax lists for 1782 to 1785.
The 1790 census records were believed to be lost during the War of 1812, when Washington, Virginia was burned by the British. Only heads of household names were listed in the 1790 census, although other household members were counted in the enumeration.
The 1787 tax list, which is often used as a substitute for the missing census records, listed the names of all free males who had to pay taxes.
However, women were only listed in cases where they were widows who had sons between the ages of 16 and 21, or if they owned land.
From 1820 to 1930 federal census records were taken every 10 years. Those records can be found at the FHL and the Library of Virginia on microfilm, except for the 1890 census records. Those records were lost in a fire.
1790 - The 1790 Virginia census enumeration were reportedly lost when the British burned the city of Washington during the War of 1812, Virginia Tax lists from 1782 through 1785 were used as a substitute for the 1790 census.
1800 - the 1800 Virginia census enumeration was reportedly lost when the British burned the city of Washington during the War of 1812, except for the 1800 censuses of Accomack County and Louisa County.
1810- 17 counties are missing in 1810 Virginia census. Counties missing are: Grayson, Greenbrier, Halifax, Hardy, Henry, James City, King William, Lee, Louisa, Mecklenburg, Nansemond, Northampton, Orange, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Russell, and Tazewell.
Records from two colonial Virginia censuses still exist today. Some other census abstracts have survived as well.
Militia musters, quitrent rolls, and tithables lists also listed Virginia residents. Each of them covers a certain precinct or county.
1623/4 Census of Jamestown, Virginia
The first census was taken on February 16, 1624 and lists the names of all people in Virginia at the time, as well as all people who had died in the area from April 1623 to the time that the census was taken in 1624.
1624/5 Muster Census of Jamestown, Virginia
In January and February of 1625, another census was taken. It is the only extant census for seventeenth-century Virginia.
This 1624/5 Muster census is a house-to-house survey that contains information about the location of households in Virginia, the individuals in each household and the ties that connected the colony's early residents to one another.
They were the “Musters of the Inhabitants of Virginia” and they included ages and relationships of household members, as well as when they became residents of Virginia, which ship they traveled to the area in, and lists of goods owned, including boats, foods, weapons, and buildings.
Information varied a bit from one plantation, town, or household to the next. The names of individuals who died during 1624 is part of the muster.
1634 Virginia Census
A 1634 census was also taken, but those records are believed to no longer exist.
Virginia State Census
No statewide state census was taken, but many county censuses were taken at different years from 1782 to 1786. All of these censuses were conducted before Virginia became a U.S. state 1788.
1782 Census - Amelia, Charlotte, Cumberland, Fairfax, Fluvanna, Frederick, Halifax, Hampshire, Hanover, Isle of Wight, Mecklenburg, Monongalia, New Kent, Northumberland, Orange, Pittsylvania, Surry, Sussex, and Warwick Counties and, the City of Richmond and the City of Williamsburg
1783 Census - Amherst, Chesterfield, Essex, Gloucester, Greenbrier, Greensville, Lancaster, Middlesex, Nansemond, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Richmond, and Shenandoah
1784 Census - Cumberland, Gloucester, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Nansemond, Northumberland, Rockingham, Surry, and Warwick Counties
1785 Census - Albermarle, Amelia, Amherst, Fairfax, Greenbrier, Halifax, Harrison, Lancaster, New Kent, Norfolk, Orange, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Shenandoah, and Stafford Counties
1786 Census - Greenbrier County
Searchable Virginia Census Special Collections
You may find the following resources helpful in your research of Virginia census data.
U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 collection includes individuals who had died in the previous year. Because each of the censuses from 1850-1880 began on June 1, “previous year” refers to the 12 months preceding June 1, or June 1 (of the previous year) to May 31 (of the census year).
Virginia, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1607-1890 collection contains the following indexes: 1800 Accomack County Federal Census Index; 1810 Federal Census Index; 1820 Federal Census Index; 1830 Federal Census Index; 1840 Federal Census Index; 1840 Pensioners List; 1850 Federal Census Index; 1850 Slave Schedule; 1860 Federal Census Index; 1860 Slave Schedule; 1870 Federal Census Index; 1890 Veterans Schedules; 1890 Naval Veterans Schedule; Early Census Index.