Notes on the 1831 "Census Returns" Database

This database [created within Excel] has 24 Fields listed as Columns A to X. There are 41,787 Records or Rows in the database. I am inclined to see the Rows as Entries.

Column A or Field A lists a Record No. for each entry in the database. As I said above, there are 41,787 records or 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. In most of these cases these entries do not include any data on the occupants.

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. 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 [Aghadowey and Desertoghill] and the townlands of Mayboy, Shanlongford and Meencraig [Aghadowey and Errigal].

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 in rural areas and along streets in towns.

Column J give details of the number of families living in each house. There are 39122 inhabited houses listed in this database. The official figure is 39077. 37,4223 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. This Column does 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 N. In Column P I have used a formula to calculate a "further" total that can be compared with the "official" total in Column O.

Columns Q, R, S & T 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, usually, it is fairly easy to work out the religion of servants within a household. Note that there were no religion totals given in the microfilm pages for each household in a townland. Therefore I had to create Column U.

There are 55 entries in the database where no religion was given. I had to create a separate Column V that would identify these 55 entries. The 55 entries totalled 642 persons but only 19 families. 50 of the 55 entries were in the City of Derry/Londonderry. The Gaol, the Asylum, the Infirmary, a Military Barracks and 14 Boarding/Lodging Houses made up the greater part of the 642 figure. Given the transient nature of the persons in these institutions and boarding houses, it is understandable that they were excluded from the later Religion count.

This later addition of the Religion data may have been partly responsible for a number of mistakes in the calculation the figure of 86 entries. So I have added a Column W which identifies these 86 entries with the code Ndt. .I must admit that some of the mistakes could have been made by me when copying the numbers data from the microfilm pages.

Column X, contains miscellaneous information and serves as a mechanism that identifies Uninhabited Houses, Boarding/Lodging Houses, Schools, Churches and other Public Buildimgs. Sometimes families are found inhabiting some of these public buildings. There is also limited information on Occupations. You will need to use Excel to "Filter" out particular information in this Column or Field.

Below are two screenshots that illustrate how you can also use the "Filter" to calculate totals for individual Townlands, Parishes and Baronies. Obviously, those of you using PDF will find it more difficult to carry out the processes shown below.

When you first open the Database, the figures in the Filter Row will be exactly the same as the Statistics from Database data will be exactly the same.

The Statistics from Official data comes from the Abstract of Answers and Returns from the Population Acts, Ireland - Enumeration 1831 [published in 1833] - see pages 268-270 of Abstract of Answers ..... which contain the tables of statistics for the entire County of Londonderry. The data are also available at Barony and Parish level and there are figures given for Towns and Villages but not for Townlands.

Copyright 2018 W. Macafee.