ABSTRACT This is a study of the bitter controversy over the manner in which the 1891 census the first census in the nineteenth century to seek to assemble data on the Welsh language was administered. Welsh patriots, led by Beriah Gwynfe Evans, David Lloyd George and Thomas Gee, were convinced that the dearth of Welsh household schedules, administrative errors and the hostility of some enumerators towards the Welsh language meant that the returns were highly suspect. Others, including the Registrar General and the editor of the Western Mail, believed that large numbers of Welsh people had deliberately falsified the returns in order to inflate the number of monoglot Welsh speakers. 'Did Wales get fair play?' was the headline in Yr Herald Cymraeg. The most balanced assessment of the correctness of the figures was provided by Thomas Darlington who, in a series of articles, argued that the returns were 'substantially correct'. Whatever the truth may be, it remains indisputable that the 1891 census was the first and last census to declare that Welsh speakers (54.5 per cent) constituted a majority in Wales.