An explanation of the term "Shared Houses"

Below is a table that shows the number of inhabited houses in My Database. In My Database there is a total of 39122 inhabited houses. The vast majority of these houses [37423] were occupied by one nuclear family. Only the name of one person [the head of household] is given in the 1831 Census Returns. The remaining 1699 houses were occupied by "multiple families" who shared these houses. I have used the shorthand S.H. to identify the "Shared Houses" in My Database. This term was not used by the enumerators. Also the method used to identify these houses and the families occuping them was not consistent across the entire county.

Table 1

I have used the term S.H.x to identify houses where 2 or more families were living in one house, but only one family name was given against each house.

Column 3 of Table 1 lists a total of 1013 S.H.x "Shared Houses" in My Database, comprising 957 S.H.x houses with 2 families; 43 S.H.x houses with 3 families; 7 S.H.x houses with 4 families and 5 S.H.x houses with 5 families and 1 with 24 "families" [?]

The example below shows a copy of some of the entries in My Database of S.H.x houses 4, 5 and 24. Note that there is only one name against each house. In fact there are no names given for House No. 24 in Catherine Street, Limavady or House No. 2 in Lanes & Yards, Limavady. Both properties were occupied by the Constabulary and Revenue Police. Also House No. 92 in Ferryquay Street, Coleraine with 24" families" was the Poorhouse. Note that, apart from Cloghole Townland in the Parish of Faughanvale, these S.H.x houses are located in towns or villages.

The example below lists Shared Houses in two townlands in the Parish of Kilrea and the townland of Advarness in the Parish of Macosquin. These townlands were located within the Barony of Coleraine where there was a total of 197 S.H.x houses. There were 99 S.H.x houses in the Barony of N.E. Liberties; 193 in the Barony of Keenaght; 457 in the Barony of Loughinsholin; 52 in the Barony of Tirkeeran and 15 in the Barony of N.W. Liberties. The lower figures for Tirkeeran and N.W. Liberties reflects the fact that there were a greater number of S.H.2, etc. houses where the names of each individual "family" were recorded by the enumerators.

Column 4 of Table 1 lists 474 S.H.2 & S.H.2.1 houses with 2 families living in each house. Here, there is a name given for each individual family occupying each "Shared House". Below are two examples [Bishop Street and Fahan Street]. Each example shows a copy of part of a microfilm page from the 1831 Census plus a copy of the same data as it is presented in My Database.

The above information was created from page 68 [below] of part of Bishop Street which lay within the Bishop Street Ward of the City. The term outside means that it lay outside the City Walls. Here we have information relating to properties 149 to 157. 149 to 155 were "Shared Houses" - one with 6 individual families - one with 4 families - two with 3 families and four with 2 families. Most of the properties in this street were "Shared Houses". Nos. 156 and 157 [Betty Lather and Thos. Gibson] were "single" houses. I have no idea how each "Shared House" was divided up. Was it regarded as a tenement or simply individual rooms in one house? This pattern of housing can be seen all over the City. Note that on this page[68] the number of families living in a house is given as the total and is opposite the first name in the page and the corresponding house number.


This pattern of numbering of "Shared Houses" is not universal within the City, or indeed the entire County. Below is a copy of page 20 showing part of Fahan Street in the Butcher Street Ward of the City. Here the numbering and the way "Shared Houses" are identified is different. Note that the enumerator puts a 1 against each individual family within a "Shared House". Initially, I diligently copied these 1s into My Database. However, when I attempted to filter out "Shared Houses" from the total database, I got the impression that the figures resulting from various searches were simply wrong. This was because the 1s that you see below were difficult to isolate from the 1s that related to one family in one house. To solve this problem I used the prefixes S.H.2.1; S.H.3.1; etc.


Note that houses numbered 72, 73 and 74 were "one family " houses. Note that their names do not appear in the My Database data below. Numbers 75 to 80 were "Shared Houses". The first property in the list below [S.H.6.1] contained 5 different names. Jno. Farren's name appears twice. Once as a family of 3 [2 males and 1 female] and again as having a separate "room" or "rooms" with no occupants. I do not have sufficient information to explain what is going on here. I suspect the five individuals were tenants in a house or tenement which was divided beween them as shown in the page above and the list below.

I spent some time making sense of this data. The inclusion of a special column which identified "Shared Houses" came after a variety of methods had been used. I hope by this stage it makes some sense to you.

Also, you might find it useful to have a look at these two papers - Copies of some pages of Rural Townlands from the 1831 Census Returns and Copies of some pages of Urban Streets from the 1831 Census Returns. Originally, these two papers were produced before I "created" the "Shared House" column in My Database and then slightly modified to concur with the "Shared House" paper.

Copyright 2018 W. Macafee