1831 Census Returns for Co. Londonderry
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.
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 1831 Census Returns are a valuable source.
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.
census returns are organised by barony, civil parish
and townland. Click
here to see copies of pages covering parts of
some townlands in the baronies of Loughinsholin and
Keenaght. These copies have been scanned from the
microfilm version of this source. In these pages you
will see the kind of information that is given for
I first created a database in 2010 I was concentrating
on producing a index of names, and that is still my
prime objective. However, I have always wanted to
add the statistical information which is available
on the microfilms. So I have been adding this information
over the last few years. Within the database this
statistical information is arranged in the columns
of Families in House
No. in House
of Males in Family
of Females in Family
of Male Servants
of Female Servants
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.
that I cannot guarantee that the surnames listed in
the database are all correct. Also 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.
have been able to cover all of the parishes and townlands
within the Baronies of N.E. Liberties of Coleraine,
Coleraine, Keenaght, Loughinsholin and Tirkeeran.
The exception is the Barony of N.W. Liberties of Londonderry
where, with the exception of William Street in the
City, only the names of persons listed in each townland
or street are given, usually in alphabetical order.
Excel database is sorted by Record No. which means
that it is primarily sorted by Barony, Parish and
Townland. The names within each townland, where extra
statistical information is included, are sorted by
House Nos. The names in the townlands and streeets
within the Barony of N.W. Liberties of Londonderry
are sorted alphabetically by standardised surnames
Street in the City]. This Excel file will allow
you to do all sorts of searches and is better for
reason why I wanted to sort by House Nos. is that
the listing of households in the returns normally
follow a geographical order which reflects the route
that the enumerators 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 in rural areas and the c.1830 Townland Valuation
in towns. Note that many of the towns have accompanying
valuation maps for the 1830s. Unfortunately this not
always the case in rural townlands. Nevertheless,
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. This
means that for some households you should 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".
listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry
listed by Record No.
have also included a PDF
file which provides an index of names and barony/parish/townland
locations within the entire county - sorted by Standardised
Surname, Barony, Parish & Townland. With the exception
of the Barony of N.W. Liberties of Londonderry, this
file also includes the statistical data for each surname.
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.
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.
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.