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The 1871 census was taken on the night of 2 April 1871.
Census enumerators distributed a schedule before census night to every household in the area they were assigned to cover which were collected the following day, checked and copied into an enumerator's book. The local registrar checked them and sent them to the Census Office and the original schedules were destroyed.
Information from ScotlandsPeople which provides full access to the 1841-1911 census records.