Research Help: Census Returns

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Full government censuses were taken for all of Ireland every ten years from 1821-1911. In 1922, during the Civil war most of the returns for 1821-1851 were destroyed during a fire at the Four Courts which was then the public records office, some remnants do remain. The returns for 1861-1891 were destroyed completely before 1922 by order of the government. The earliest surviving complete census returns for Ireland are those for 1901 and 1911.

Information given: The 1901 census returns record the following:

1. Name
2. Relationship to the head of household
3. Religion
4. Literacy
5. Occupation
6. Age
7. Marital status
8. County of birth
9. Ability to speak English or Irish

The returns also give details of houses such as the number of rooms, out-houses and windows and the type of roof and these details were used to classify the house.

The 1911 returns record the same details as the 1901 with an addition which is important for those researching their family history. In 1911 married women had to say how many years the marriage had lasted, the number of children born alive and the number still living. In many cases, women who were widows gave the number of years their marriage had lasted prior to the death of their husband.

For both sets of returns only the initials of policemen and the inmates of mental hospitals were recorded

Census remnants

1821
This census was organised by townland, civil parish, barony and county and took place on May 28th, 1821. It recorded the following information
1. Name
2. Age
3. Occupation
4. Relationship to Head of Household
5. Acreage of land-holding
6. Number of storeys in the house

Almost all the original returns were destroyed in 1922, though a few remain for parts of Counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Galway, Meath and Offaly (King’s Co)

1831
Organised by townland, civil parish, barony and county and it recorded the following:
1. Name
2. Age
3. Occupation
4. Relationship to head of household
5. Acreage of land-holding
6. Religion

Very little of this survives and most of that which does relates to County Londonderry or Derry

1841
These returns were filled out by the householders themselves rather than government enumerators. They recorded the following:
1. Name
2. Age
3. Occupation
4. Relationship to head of household
5. Date of marriage
6. Literacy
7. Absent family members
8. Family members who had died since 1831

Unfortunately only one set of original returns survived 1922 and they are for the parish of Killeshandra in County Cavan. This census was the earliest to be of use when state pensions were introduced in the early 20th century. Copies of household returns from 1841 and 1851 were sometimes used as proof of age, so, those forms (transcripts of the original) which were used for this purpose have survived and are held in the National Archives in Dublin and the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland

1851
The following information was recorded:
1. Name
2. Age
3. Occupation
4. Relationship to the head of household
5. Date of marriage
6. Literacy
7. Absent family members
8. Family members who had died since 1841
9. Religion

Most of the surviving parts of this census relate to parishes in county Antrim

1861-1891

As stated, these were officially destroyed. There are transcripts of portions in the Catholic registers of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford (1861) and Drumcondra and Loughbraclen, Co.Meath (1871)

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