Emigration Data in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of the 1830 compiled at the time of the survey of the country to produce the first edition of the Six Inch Ordnance Survey Map are a useful source on emigration in a period before the outbreak of the Famine. In fact its shows that emigration was well established at that time reflecting the growing pressure on land and the poor state of the linen trade.

See Irish emigration lists, 1833-1839 : lists of emigrants extracted from the Ordnance Survey memoirs for Counties Londonderry and Antrim compiled under the direction of Brian Mitchell and published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1989.

I have databased the list of emigrants in all of the parishes within the O.S. Memoirs for Co. Londonderry where a list of names with details are recorded. The emigrants database is an example of the kind of information on emigrants that is contained in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of the 1830s. It gives the name, sex, age, religion, townland of origin and port of destination of each person emigrating from the various parishes in the county during the years 1834 and 1835.

As well as being of interest to overseas visitors looking for their ancestors, this source, when linked to the 1831 Enumerators' Returns, Tithe Records and Valuation Records, can be useful in trying to trace families in the 1830s.

I have also included a letter, dated 17th August 1834, from an emigrant to Canada, James Ward, to his father, Bryan Ward of Cumber, near Claudy, Co. Derry. This is an interesting letter that mentions the names of various relatives and friends of the writer who lived in this area. You can also look up many of them in the 1831 Census Returns database which can be accessed at the 1831 Census Returns link in the left-hand menu iof this website. Click here to see a transcript of this letter.

During the 1830s many poorer people migrated annually to the harvests in Scotland and England. The names of some of these persons are recorded in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of the 1830s. As an example, I have databased the names and locations of persons who migrated annually from the parishes of Maghera and Termoneeny in Co. Derry. This source, when linked to the 1831 Enumerators' Returns, can be useful in trying to trace families in the 1830s.

It is noticeable that in Co. Antrim the names and details of emigrants are only given for the parishes of Ahoghill, Drummaul, Duneane and Grange of Ballyscullion in Mid Antrim. Mention of numbers and comments in other parishes suggest that the numbers emigrating, or indeed migrating annually to the Scottish and English harvests, was not as great. For example, in the parish of Racavan, which contains the village of Broughshane, the following comment is made.

There is now scarcely any emigration from this parish. The people are kept in constant employment in the manufacture of linen and at different bleach greens and spinning factories in the neighbourhood, for which they receive good wages. Besides, the accounts from America are not so encouraging as formerly. Few, if any, for the same reasons as above, go to the English or Scots' harvests.

Copyright 2011 W.Macafee.