May 10th, 2011
Roddy Hegarty: Making Sense of the Census
1900 census-there were up to 15 names in each familyʼs entry.
2011 census-up to 6 names.
1831 -population was over estimated as some enumerators believed they were to be paid
per capita! there were no Ordinance Survey maps (not til 1832) so lots of people were
Billy Mc Afee has issued a CD rom “Researching Derry/Lʼderry Ancestors” in which he lists
the returns for the 1831 census:
-name/owner/occupier; -townland/street; -house number; -males/females
-servants, male/female; -religion (but is not on every forn til after the famine).
The civil service was emerging in Ireland and was enquiring into public instruction/ national
Schools; asked of local priests how many were attending.
The civil service was built on a base unit of bureaucracy of the townland as were:
-poor law unions.
1841- first census to be collected in one evening, using RIC enumerators (unpaid) and
Ordinance Survey maps. It re-established the townland as a base unit.
1851- question on who spke the Irish languag daily was on the back of the form and few
filled it in.
1861- question on relion for first time.
1864- civil register of births/marriages/deaths first introduced.
The 1861-91 files were destroyed by the government during World War 1.
Earlier than 1861 records had been kept at the Four Courts, Dublin, but, were destroyed
by fire in 1921. (There are some left for Co. Antrim, 1871)
The shortened versions of 1841-81 census are still available.
1898- Local Government Act, district electoral divisions evolved, replacing the poor law
Form A shows professions/ranks that no longer exist:
-holder upper (of rivets)
-slabberer (paved paths)
-scavenger (gathered manure after horse & carts and sold it).
Form A also shows Irish and English spoken in Moneaney and Gulladuff.
Form B shows materials of walls/roofs, number of rooms/windows in buildings/homes; and
Form B2 shows buildings attached to buildings, including turf house Coal house in
Coleraine-coal off the boats).
Form G-boarding school returns.
Form E- returns from workhouses, (except lunatic asylums)-initials, not full names and
townland origin given.
1908-old age pension, 2 shillings, (Lloyd George) given to those who could recall the
1911-Bellaghy-questions asked of married women.