The Town of Coleraine

In this case study I have assembled a number of sources for the town of Coleraine from the 1830s to the early 1900s. Some sources relate to the whole town and some relate particularly to Church Street, which is the subject of a separate case study.Note that there is also a link to a separate case study of Church Street within the town.

Maps of the Town Maps showing town c.1600, 1834, 1860, 1907, 1923 and 1950.
1831 Census Returns Excel PDF
1832 Townland Valuation - read more. Excel PDF House details Valuation map
1859 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation Printed pages Valuation map
1856 & 1905 Street Directories 1856 Slater's Directory 1905 Belfast & Ulster Directory
Church Street Case study of a street in the town *

* Note that this case study will open in a separate page within this window.

Below are some notes relating to the sources in the table above.

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
7,646 6,255 5,920 5,631 6,588 6,694 6,845 6,958

Population % change per decade:

-5% 17% 2% 2% 2%

Population % change 1851 to 1901:


The 1831 and the 1841 figures are somewhat suspect. I am not sure that the areas being enumerated in these two years are exactly the same. The figures from 1851 onwards are enumerating the same areas, which included Killowen. Apart from the 1851/61 decade, when the population fell by 5%, the population rose every decade and by 1901 showed an increase of 18% on the 1851 figure.
Within the county only the city of Derry/Londonderry showed substantial growth during these same years. In the towns of Magherafelt, Limavady and Dungiven population fell by 4%, 16% and 30 % respectively between 1851 and 1901.

There are maps dating from c.1600 to 1950 which show the geographical extent of the town at various dates throughout this period and 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. Note that the sources for the 1830s do not cover the Killowen area of the town on the west bank of the river Bann.

The 1831 Census Returns cover all of the streets on the east bank of the Bann. I have databased the names in 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 databased the names in the streets in the 1832 Townland Valuation for the town on the east bank of the Bann. You might want to take a street and see how many names in the valuation can be matched to the 1831 Census Returns. The database also contains the valuation of each property, where given. Each entry in each street in the database has a map number which corresponds to the numbers on the 1834 Valuation Map. When you click on the 1832 Townland Valuation "Valuation map" link a page will open with an index to the five individual maps covering the town on the east bank of the Bann. This should allow you locate many of the persons listed in both the 1831 Census Returns and the 1832 Townland Valuation.

I have also copied the manuscript pages from the 1832 Townland Valuation which give details of the houses in Church Street, the street selected for the case study. The details include the size of the buildings and information on their age and condition.

You will be able to compare this 1832 information on Church Street with similar information in the later Manuscript Book of the Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation of 1858 [VAL/2B/5/3C]. It uses a similar code to that of 1832. I have databased the 1858 information for Church street and you can access the database on the Church Street page. Note that the town was actually surveyed in 1858 and the results printed in 1859.

There are copies of pages from the 1859 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation with its accompanying 1859 large scale valuation map. These pages and the accompanying map also include the Killowen area of the town. This means that you should be able locate properties within the town in 1859 and match many of the properties on the east bank of the Bann back to the earlier 1834 map of the town.

When you click on the 1859 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation "Printed pages" link a page will open with an index to the streets covered. Also, when you click on the 1859 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation "Valuation map" link a page will open with an index to the nine individual maps covering the town. 

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. As we move into the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the more substantial merchants and professional people were moving out the suburbs in Lodge Road, Millburn Road and Mountsandel Road.

When approaching your "tour of the town" you can either begin by looking at the town as a whole and then concentrating on Church Street. Alternatively you can begin with Church Street [where you will find the same sources plus some extra ones] and move outwards to the other streets in the town.

Making sense of the information in these sources would be enhanced if you were to read T. H. Mullin, Coleraine in Modern Times (Belfast, 1979). Also, if you want to see what the city looked like, particularly in the later part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - see the series of books by R. Anderson & T. McDonald - Memories in Focus, Vols. 1-4 and Fading Memories and More Fading Memories by R. Anderson.

Copyright 2018 W. Macafee.