The Town of Limavady

In this example I have assembled a number of sources for the town of Limavady from the 1830s to the early 1900s. Some sources relate to the whole town and two [the 1901 Census Returns and the Griffith's Revision Books] relate particularly to Roe Mill Road Street, known today, simply, as Roemill Road. The town of Limavady [or Newtownlimavady as it was known as then] was the largest urban locality in the barony and the administrative centre of the Newtownlimavady Poor Law Union. Below are

1831 Census Returns



1831 Townland Valuation House details Valuation map
1858 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation Printed pages Valuation map
1856 Slater's & 1905 Belfast & Ulster Directories 1856 directory    1905 directory
1876 to 1907 Griffith's Revision Books [Roe Mill Road St.] Excel   [Map c.1900] PDF
1901 Census Returns [Roe Mill Road St.] Excel PDF

Some Notes
on the Town.

The figures in the table below [compiled from the official census] show how the population of the town changed during the period 1831 to 1901.

1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
2428 3101 3206 2732 2762 2954 2796 2692

Population % change per decade:

-15% 1% 7% -5% -4%

Population % change 1851 to 1901:


Assuming that the 1831 figure is correct, the population of the town increased by 32% between 1831 and 1851, only to fall by 15% between 1851 and 1861. The population rose between 1861 and 1881, particularly in the decade 1871/81,  before returning to two decades of decline. By 1901 the population had declined 16% since 1851 with a figure not much greater than it had been in 1831. Such a pattern of population growth and decline was not unusual in market towns in the west of Ulster particularly during the second half of the nineteenth century. There appears to be some movement of people from the countryside as the locality recovers from the Famine. However, most of the people coming out of the countryside usually went to Belfast or further afield to Britain and America. Towns such as Limavady were not able to generate sufficient employment opportunities during the second half of the nineteenth century to attract these emigrants.

I have brought together a number of key sources that will allow you to see who was living in the streets within the town from the 1830s to the early 1900s and two large scale maps of the town, dated 1834 and 1859 that will let you see where they were living.

The 1831 Census Returns [Excel] [PDF] lists the names of all householders in each street at that time. I have databased the names in the census in the order that they appear in the original transcripts. House numbers (unique to the census and not to be confused with local street numbers) are given in the database. The number of families in a house are given and multiple-occupancy houses are flagged up with an *. If a house is uninhabited then this is noted. You will notice that it is obvious that certain people had more than one house in a street and some had a number of properties in different streets. The database makes it easier to identify these persons.

I have copied the manuscript pages from the 1831 Townland Valuation for all of the streets in the town. You might want to take a street and see how many names in the valuation can be matched to the 1831 Census Returns. Each property in the 1832 valuation has a number which corresponds to the numbers on the 1834 Valuation Map.  Unfortunately there is no detailed information in the 1831 Townland Valuation on the dimensions and conditions of the houses in Limavady at that time. However information is given on roofing material. Only 30 of the 155 houses listed in the valuation were thatched. So 80% of the houses in the town in 1832 were slated.

There are copies of pages from the 1858 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation with its accompanying 1859 large scale valuation map. Here you can identify and locate householders within the town at that time. Remember that the town was actually surveyed in 1856 and the results printed in 1858.

Note that both the 1834 and 1859 large scale maps of the town are too large to be presented as one map. When you click on the 1834 link a page will open with an index to the six individual maps covering the town. When you click on the 1859 you will find an index to eight individual maps.

There are also copies of the pages from the 1856 Slater's Directory and the 1905 Belfast and Ulster Directories. It is possible to link many of the names in the 1856 directory with names in the 1858 Griffith's Valuation and get some idea of the commercial nature of many of the streets in the town at that time. Remember in those days many people lived over their businesses.

Finally, in order to provide some detailed information on some of the families who lived in the town in the early 1900s I have included details [in database format] from the 1901 Census Returns [Excel] [PDF] for Roe Mill Road  Street. When the 1901 and 1911 Census Returns for Co. Londonderry come online you will be able to look at the other streets in the town.

Roe Mill Road Street is somewhat different from the other example localities.  The street did not exist at the the time of the 1859 valuation. The locality was essentially a rural area at that time on the outskirts of the town. Its development in the later part of the nineteenth century can be traced in the PRONI online Griffith's Revision Books covering the period 1876 to 1907. Much of the work on this example took place in 2010. Then I had to


I have only had a cursory glance at the families in the 1901 Census Returns and they show that there were 30 families living in the street. The religious breakdown of the heads of families was 13 Church of Ireland, 10 Roman Catholic, 6 Presbyterian and 1 Methodist. In terms of occupation, apart from the Cather family who lived in the "big house" in the street and Charles Harvey, a retired farmer, Robert Walker, a watchmaker and jeweller, the occupations were mainly tradesmen, labourers and some who worked in the linen factory in the town. There were two postmen James and Robert Forrest, sons of George Forrest. The Forrest family are the subject of a case study by Robert Forrest who is a great-great grandson of George Forrest. You will find a link to this study on the main webpage.

Making sense of the information in these sources would be enhanced if you were to read T. H. Mullin, Limavady and the Roe Valley (Limavady, 1983).

Copyright 2018 W. Macafee.