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Census Records
1831 Census Returns for Co. Londonderry

Unlike Great Britain, where detailed Census Enumerators' Returns are available from 1841, virtually none exist for Ireland before 1901. However, in county Londonderry we have a unique source which, as far as I know, is not available for any other county in Ireland - the 1831 Census Returns.  Despite being referred to as census returns, they do not contain the detailed information on individuals that we find in the 1901 and 1911 Census Returns. In fact the returns were  produced as a Religious Census for use in the First Report of the Commission of Public Instruction (1834/35), thus the predominance of information on individual religions. You will also find this information useful @ written by Stephen A Royle.

The categories of Established Church, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and other Protestant Dissenters are similar to the categories used in the 1766 Religious Census. Nevertheless, despite not being a full-blown census return, the Co. Londonderry 1831 "Census Returns" are a valuable source for family historians. If nothing else, they clearly demonstrate the limitations of the Tithe Applotment Books as a source for family names in the early part of the nineteenth century. 

The census returns are organised by barony, civil parish and townland. Click here for a Printed Summary of the 1831 Census. This Summary does not list any of the individual townlands within each Parish. For those of you not familiar with this census I have included a sample of pages that will allow you to see the kind of information that is given for each household and how the data are arranged on the page.

 Click here to see copies of pages covering parts of three rural townlands, Mormeal and Granny in the Barony of Loughinsholin, and Rallagh in the Barony of Keenaght. Click here to see copies of pages relating to [Nailer's Row, Long Tower Street, Priest's Lane and Fahan Street] in the City of Londonderry. These copies have been scanned from the microfilm version of this source.

The original Excel and PDF databases that I created in 2010 [with later revisions] concentrated on an index of names and places. I have always wanted to include the statistical information which is available on the microfilms. So I have been adding this information over the last few years. I have just completed this exercise [June 2017] for the entire county covering all of the townlands in the Baronies of N.W. Liberties of Londonderry - N.E. Liberties of Coleraine - Coleraine - Keenaght - Loughinsholin and Tirkeeran.

The first column in each page of the actual census gives details of the forename and surname of the head of household. The second column lists the townland or street where the family lived. The remainder of each page contains columns of statistical information. The headings for these columns are shown below - as they appear in my database.

House No. No. of Families in House Total No. in House No. of Males in Family No. of Females in Family No. of Male Servants No. of Female Servants EC RC PR PD Notes

The first three columns give details of the number of a house or building within a townland, the number of families living in that house [usually one] and the total number of persons living in that house. The next four columns give some detail on the numbers and makeup of the house. The occupants are divided into two groups - the number of males and females in the family and the number of male and female servants living with the family. The next four columns provide information on the religion of the members of the household - EC [Established Church] RC [Roman Catholic] PR [Presbyterian] and PD [Other Protestant Dissenters] such as Covenanters, Baptists or Methodists and, occasionally, there is a note to that effect. No distinction is made between family members and servants in the columns on religion. However, it is usually fairly easy to work out the religion of servants within a household.

With regard to the names of each head of household, I cannot guarantee that the surnames listed in the database are all correct. There are many variant spellings of certain surnames. To help overcome this problem I have used a system of "standardised" spelling to group together variant spellings of a name, thereby making it easier to see patterns in the distribution of surnames.  For example the name McIntyre is spelt a number of different ways within the returns  - McIntyre, McEntyre, McEntire, etc. McIntyre is used as the standardised spelling in one column of the database and the actual, variant spellings are listed in a separate column. Mc names can be difficult to decipher so when working with them have a look in the database for spellings which are close to the particular surname you are researching. In some cases I have added [?] at the end of a surname - indicating that I am unsure about a particular spelling. At the end of the day, if in doubt about a surname you will need to consult the microfilms in either PRONI or in the Ballymena and Coleraine libraries. In some cases you might have to go to the National Archives in Dublin to look at the originals.

Below there are links to the Databases.

Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry listed by Barony/Parish/Townland.* Excel*
Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry listed by Barony/Parish/Townland. PDF
Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry listed by Standardised Surname/Barony/Parish/Townland. PDF

* The Excel database is primarily sorted by Barony, Parish and Townland. The names of each head of household within each townland are sorted by House Nos. - not alphabetically as they were in my earlier database. Unfortunately there are a few instances where the data is illegible. Also there are instances in the statistical information where the person who copied the information from the original pages of the 1831 Census has made a mistake. I have signalled this in the Notes Column of the database. This column includes other useful information.

This Excel file will allow you to do all sorts of searches and is better for identifying patterns. Note that if you make a mess of a search in the Excel database, simply sort the database by Record No. This will restore the entire file to its original state.

For those of you who do not have access to Excel I have included two PDF files. One that is a duplicate of the Excel file and one that provides an index of names sorted by Standardised Surname, Barony, Parish & Townland. Unfortunately any search of a PDF copy of a database is more limited.

Changes to some parishes 1831 to c.1860

Note that in 1831 the townlands of Beagh Temporal, Culnagrew, Knockoneill & Swatragh were part of Maghera Parish. By the time of the Griffith's Valuation in 1859 they were part of Killelagh parish.

By the time of the Griffith's Valuation of 1859 a new parish of Carrick had been created consisting of townlands taken from the 1831 parishes of Balteagh, Bovevagh and Tamlaght Finlagan.

By the time of the Griffith's Valuation of 1859 a new parish of Learmount had been created consisting of townlands taken from the 1831 parish of Cumber Upper and the parish of Banagher lying within the Barony of Tirkeeran. The Parish of Banagher in the Barony of Keenaght remained intact.

Within the database I have identified those townlands that were in one parish in 1831 and a different one by c.1858/59.

Note also that a number of townlands are divided between two parishes e.g. the townland of Cullyramer in the Barony of Coleraine is divided between the parishes of Aghadowey and Desertoghill.

Matching the 1831 names and properties in rural townlands to c.1830 Tithe Books and the c.1858/59 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation with its accompanying Six Inch Maps.

Note that the listing of households within each townland in the 1831 Census normally follow a geographical order which reflects the route that an enumerator took around a townland or street. Because of this, it is usually possible to match the names in the 1831 Census Returns with the c.1830 Tithe Books. Unfortunately there are no accompanying maps available for the Tithe Book locations in rural areas. However, it is often possible to match many of the 1831 names and locations with the 1858/59 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation and its accompanying maps. These maps and the printed pages of the Griffith's Valuation are available at 1846-64. This means that for some households you might be able to get some idea of where individual houses and families may have been located within a townland or street in the first half of the nineteenth century. However - a word of warning - it is not a "perfect Science". Below are links to examples in the townlands of Granny and Mormeal in the Parish of Kilcronaghan in the Barony of Loughinsholin. In this case there is also data on emigrants from these two townlands in 1834/35. This data helps to show which families were losing some or all of their members.

PDF copy of 1828 Tithe for Granny. [PRONI Copy] PDF copy of 1828 Tithe for Mormeal 1 and Mormeal 2. [PRONI Copy]
Matching Names in 1831 Census with 1828 Tithe Book and 1859 Griffth's Valuation [Granny & Mormeal] Excel PDF
Emigrants from Granny & Mormeal 1834 & 1835.

Matching the 1831 Census to the 1832 Townland Valuation of the City of Londonderry.

If you have not already done so, Click here to see copies of pages relating to [Nailer's Row, Long Tower Street, Priest's Lane and Fahan Street] in the City of Londonderry. This paper also explains in more detail how the numbering of properties in the streets of the City works.

Wards in the City of Londonderry 1831. Excel - PDF 1832 Townland Valuation of some Streets in the City of Londonderry.**
Map of City of Londonderry 1833.* 1834 Valuation Map of part of the City of Londonderry.**

* Note that you can now get a better map at PRONI online - .When you get there enter Londonderry in the Search Box and select Londonderry, then Templemore. A modern day map will appear on the screen. Then choose OS Historical First Edition [1832-1846] and you can zoom in on the streets at that time.

** This valuation lists the names of the tenants occupying houses valued at £3.00 plus. I have identified a number of properties in Abbey Street and William Street in Edenballymore where I was able to match the numbering of each property in the vauation record with the corresponding number in the 1831 Census. The valuation number can then be located on the 1834 Valuation Map.

The 1830s Townland Valuation Books with accompanying 1834 Town Maps are available for Coleraine, Limavady, Dungiven and Magherafelt at the Maps & Photos webpage.

My Databases
Databases compiled from 19th Century Census Substitutes
Databases compiled from 18th Century Census Subtitutes
Databases compiled from 17th Century Census Subtitutes
Maps & Photos
Copyright 2017 W.Macafee.