Northern Ireland Census

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Most of the Northern Ireland Census records before 1861 were destroyed in the Irish Civil War in 1922.

There are few exceptions that survived as follows:

County Antrim[edit | edit source]

County Derry (Londonderry)[edit | edit source]

County Fermanagh[edit | edit source]

A census is a count and description of the population of an area. When available, census records can provide names, ages, occupations, marital statuses, birthplaces, and family members' relationships. Censuses can also provide clues that lead to other records. A census may list only selected people for a special reason (such as males between the ages of 16 and 45 for military purposes) or the whole population. The percentage of people listed depends on the purpose of the census and on how careful the enumerator was.

Royal Avenue Belfast

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Purposes for Taking a Census[edit | edit source]

Various types of censuses have been taken by civil authorities to determine such things as:

  • Makeup of the population.
  • Religion of the population.
  • Military readiness.
  • Taxes for support of the state church (called tithes).
  • Taxes for poor relief (called poor rates).
  • The number and identities of eligible voters (recorded in poll books)

Civil or Government Censuses of the Population[edit | edit source]

Government censuses of the population are particularly valuable because they list nearly all the population at a given time. The Irish government took a census in 1813 (which no longer exists), then every ten years from 1821 through 1911.

Availability of Census Fragments[edit | edit source]

Only parts of the early civil censuses survive. The censuses from 1821 through 1851 were mostly destroyed in the 1922 fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin. The censuses from 1861 through 1891 were destroyed by the government sometime after statistics had been compiled from them. For more information see the Family History Library reference guide Register of Ireland Census & Census Substitutes (FHL book 941.5 X23c) or see Ireland Census fragments available at the Family History Library. Also there is the Ireland Householders Index. From 1823 to 1864, records were kept of people who paid taxes to the Church of Ireland or the government in Ireland.

The 1901 census is the first complete census available for Ireland. The 1901 and 1911 censuses are available to the public and are now online, but all censuses taken since 1911 are not. The 1821 to 1851 censuses are divided by county, barony, civil parish, and townland. The 1901 and 1911 censuses are divided by county, electoral division, and townland.

Because many of the earlier censuses are not available, census substitutes are especially useful for Ireland.  These include tax, religous and poll lists among others.  See the below section on census substitutes for more information on census substititues.

Content[edit | edit source]

1901. The 1901 census lists for every member of the household:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Religion
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • County of birth (except for foreign births, which give country only)
  • Whether the individual spoke Irish
  • Whether the individual could read or write.
  • Whether deaf and dumb, or blind.

1911. The census lists the same information as the 1901 census and adds for married women:

  • Number of years she had been married to her current husband
  • Number of children that had been born to them
  • Number of their children who were still alive.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has some census records for Northern Ireland. All other census records, including the surviving early fragments, are kept at the National Archives.

Additional census forms are available for the 1901 and 1911 censuses that give more information about the household. Form N, an enumerator’s abstract, gives statistical information about the townland or street and its inhabitants; Form B1, house and building return, gives details about the dwelling places in the townland or street​; Form B2, out-offices and farm-steadings return, gives information about extra buildings used for running the household like barns and stables. These additional forms can be viewed on the National Archives site.