Family and Local History
[Bill Macafee's Website]

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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, although not a proper census, contains data that are useful to family historians and anyone interested in the society and economy of rural Ireland in the latter years of the "long eighteenth century".

When I first used the 1831 Census material c.1970, I assumed that both the Population data and the Religion data were enumerated at the same time. However, I could not understand why there were no Religion statistics in the Abstract of Answers and Returns from the Population Acts, Ireland - Enumeration 1831, published in 1832. This is the book that summarises the statistics collected by the Census. Click here to see the tables of statistics for the entire County of Londonderry. Note that these statistics provide data at Barony and Parish levels. Figures are given for towns and villages within certain parishes but not for individual townlands and - as I have already said - there is no information on religions in this report.

Later, I learnt that the data on religion were added a number of years later and this "revised" data were used as a Religious Census in the First Report of the Commission of Public Instruction (1834/35), A copy of this Report can be read at the Dippam website.When you arrive at the website click on Open Document then go to scanned page 5 [which is page 1 of the actual Report]. Continue with scanned pages 6 to 12 [pages 2-8 in the actual document]. These pages will explain how the details on Religion were "collected" and used. Look out for the following - how they gathered the information on religion [which was the main purpose of the exercise] and how they made use of the 1831 enumerators as well as the local clergy. Also how they caused tables to be framed showing the proportinate increase or diminution of the population of such rural districts and towns respectively, which, according to that assumption, might be estimated to have taken place between the years 1831 and 1834 [page 4 of the First Report].

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 in a townland, 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 Parish of Kilcronaghan in the Barony of Loughinsholin, and Rallagh in the Parish of Banagher in the Barony of Keenaght. Click here to see copies of pages relating to the Town of Coleraine [all of Meeting House Place and part of New Row]. Also, [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 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 nineteeenth century.

Back in 2010 I created Excel and PDF databases from the microfilm copies of the census in PRONI. These databases provided an index of names and places. At that time I could not see a way of adding all of the statistical information on each household within the database. Instead, I included the statistical information from the 1831 Census in my case studies of localities and families in my CD and on this website. Over the years the databases on the web were revised a number of times. A few years ago I reached the point where I decided to add the statistical information on each household in the database. I have just completed this exercise [June 2018] for the entire county covering all of the townlands and parishes in the Baronies of N.W. Liberties of Londonderry - N.E. Liberties of Coleraine - Coleraine - Keenaght - Loughinsholin and Tirkeeran. Click here for a map showing the Baronies and Parishes within the county. Before searching these databases it might be useful to the read the text below.

Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry, sorted by Barony/Parish/Townland.* Excel
Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry, sorted by Barony/Parish/Townland. PDF
Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry, sorted 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 databases. Unfortunately there are a few instances where the data are 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.

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. Note that if you are only interested in finding the name of your ancestors and where they lived within the county then you only need to search Columns A to G.

Below are the headings as they appear in the latest database.

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
Record No. Surname [Standardised} Surname as spelt in the Census Returns Forename as spelt in the Census Returns Barony Parish 1831/c.1860 Townland/Street [As Spelt in Document]

Column A lists a Record No. for each entry in the database. There are 41,786 entries in this database. Most of the entries are inhabited houses. I have also included 1407 uninhabited houses, plus various public buildings such as churches and schools, and a number of industrial buildings, bringing the total of "uninhabited" buildings to c.1531.

Columns B to D give details of the householders' names. 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 [column B] 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, McAteer, 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 C. Mc names can be difficult to decipher so when working with them have a look in the database for spellings that 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. For more details on surnames and townland placenames, read - The Spelling of Townland Names and Surnames in the Databases. 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 or the National Archives in Dublin.

Columns E, F and G provide the information on where each household was located {Barony, Parish and Townland]. Note that in 1831, in the Barony of Loughinsholin, the townlands of Beagh Temporal, Culnagrew, Knockoneill & Swatragh were part of Maghera Parish. By the time of the Griffith's Valuation in c.1860 they were part of Killelagh Parish. Also, by c.1860, in the Barony of Keenaght, a new Parish of Carrick had been created consisting of townlands taken from the 1831 parishes of Balteagh, Bovevagh and Tamlaght Finlagan. Likewise, by the late 1830s 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.1860. For example there were 17 townlands in the Parish of Banagher [Barony of Tirkeeran] in 1831. By c.1860, eight of them were still in the Parish of Banagher. The other nine townlands were in the new Parish of Learmount [Barony of Tirkeeran]. In the database the name Banagher/Learmount identifies the nine townlands.

There were also some townlands in the parishes of Aghadowey, Desertoghill and Errigal that are split between two parishes. These include the townland of Cullyramer [Aghdowey and Desertoghill] and the townlands of Mayboy, Shanlongford and Meencraig [Aghadowey and Errigal].

H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
House No. Shared Houses No. of Families in House No. of Males in Family No. of Females in Family No. of Male Servants No. of Female Servants Total No. in House - microfim page Total Nos. in House SUM of Cols. K,L,M,N. Cell O minus Cell P.

Column H provides the house number of each house within a townland or street. This house number is simply the number assigned by the enumerator. In general, I have found that the numbering of houses in each townland or street reflects the route taken by the enumerator as he moved from house to house along lanes and through fields..

Column J give details of the number of families living in each house. There are 39121 inhabited houses listed in this database. The official figure is 30997. 37,422 of these houses were occupied by one family. The remaining 1699 houses have 2 or more families in each house and I refer to these properties in the database as "Shared Houses". These houses require explanation and in order to filter them out in the Excel database I created Column I. Notice the heading in this column is in red. You will notice presently that there are a further seven columns with red headings. These columns [in red] do not contain data copied directly from the microfilm pages of the 1831 " Census" - any information in these columns has been created by me. For further notes on "Shared Houses" - click here.

Columns K to N provide the number of males and females in the family/families and the number of male and female servants living with each family/families. Column O gives the total number of persons living in each house as recorded on the microfilm pages. However, as I was creating the database I soon became aware of discrepancies between the "official" total figures for households in Column O and the figures in columns K to M. In Column P I have used a formula to calculate a further total that can be compared with the "official" total in Column O. If the two totals are the same the number 0 will appear in Column Q. Note the error is circa 0.1%, which is reasonable in a database of this magnitude.

R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
EC RC PR PD No Religion Total Religion SUM of Cols. R, S, T,U.
Cell W minus Cell P. Cell W minus Cell O. Notes

The next four columns R, S, T & U provide information on the religion of the members of each household - EC [Established Church] RC [Roman Catholic] PR [Presbyterian] and PD [Other Protestant Dissenters] such as Covenanters, Baptists or Methodists, etc. 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. In some cases no religion was given. Therefore I added a Column V.

Note that there were no religion totals given in the microfilm pages for each household in a townland. Therefore I had to create Column W. I also created Columns X and Y to compare the Religion Totals with the Population Totals. Again, if the three totals match up the figures are OK. In fact only 0.3% of the entries do not match up.

Also there are 55 entries where no religion is given. For those of you using Excel - filter out these 55 entries in the V column of the database. I have also included a PDF version.

Below are four papers that summarise data from both My Database and some of the Microfilm Pages of the 1831 "Census".

Some County and Barony Statistics that have been calculated from the 1831 "Census" Online Database. PDF.

The Numbers of Houses and Families in the Civil Parishes of Co. Londonderry 1831. Data compiled from My Database and the Microfilm Pages of the 1831 "Census". Excel or PDF.

Population and Religion Figures for each of the Civil Parishes of Co. Londonderry in 1831. The data have been compiled from My Database. Excel or PDF.

Population and Religion Figures for each of the Civil Parishes of Co. Londonderry in 1831. The data have been compiled from the Microfilm Pages of the 1831 "Census". Excel or PDF.

Incidentally, I found the papers in bold letters, above, useful in identifying mistakes within the database. The key factor here was that totals in one paper usually had to match totals in most of the other papers. I have to say it took some months before I was satisfied with these papers and each has undergone a considerable number of versions. I feel that there are still mistakes in this database. Some of the mistakes are mine but some are the fault of enumerators. These enumerators' mistakes can be filtered out in Excel by clicking on the command "Numbers don't tally" in the Notes Column.

The Notes, Column Z contains miscellaneous bits of information that I have chosen. This info. should help you to filter out certain data from the Excel database.

 

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 askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation 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.
PDF

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 - https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/search-archives-online/proni-historical-maps-viewer .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
Sperrins
Databases compiled from 19th Century Census Substitutes
Databases compiled from 18th Century Census Subtitutes
Databases compiled from 17th Century Census Subtitutes
Maps & Photos
Copyright 2018 W.Macafee.