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Irish Census Records

1708 - James Maguire made a survey of the town of Downpatrick, County Down, in 1708.

He described each premise by name, giving its size, its principal tenant and the half yearly rent. A manuscript copy of this survey, made by the Rev. David Stewart in 1927, available PRONI Ref No D.1759/2A/8.

1740 - A list of Protestant householders was compiled in parts of the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Donegall, Derry and Tyrone in 1740. It is arranged by county, barony and parish and gives the names only. A typescript copy of the 1740 return of Protestant householders is available on the Search Room shelves in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Balmoral Avenue, Belfast.

1766 - Church of Ireland rectors were instructed by the government in March and April 1766, to compile complete returns of all householders in their parishes, showing their religion, as between Church of Ireland (Episcopalian), Roman Catholic (termed 'Papists' in the returns) and Presbyterians (or Dissenters), and giving an account of any Roman Catholic clergy active in their area.

Some of the more diligent rectors listed every townland and every household, but many drew up only numerical totals of the population. All of the original returns were destroyed in the Four Courts in 1922, but extensive transcripts survive and are available on the Search Room shelves PRONI. Copies are also available Ref No T.808/15264-15267.

1770 - A census was carried out for the town of Armagh in 1770, giving individual names and occupations, size of family and religion and is arranged street by street PRONI Ref No T.808/14938 and T.808/14977.

1796 - As part of a government initiative to encourage the linen trade, free spinning-wheels of looms were granted to individuals planting a certain area with flax.
The lists of those entitled to the awards, covering 60,000 people, were published in 1796.
A typescript copy is available on the Search Room shelves, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Balmoral Avenue, Belfast. A micrfilm index to the lists is also available PRONI Ref No T.3419.


1821 - The first full census of Ireland was commenced on 28 May 1821 and thereafter there was one every ten years. The enumerators were issued with notebooks in which they entered details concerning each household. The process took several weeks. When they had all the information gathered they transferred it to the census forms which they submitted. The information given for each individual in these original returns consisted of name, relationship to head of household, age and occupation.

The returns also stated the number of stories in each house and the number of acres held by each family. The originals survive for Derryvullen parish and part of Agha;urcher in Co. Fermanagh, the complete baronies of Arran and Athenry in Co. Galway, the complete baronies of Navan Lower and Navan Upper in Co. Meath, and the complete barony of Ballybritt in Co. Offaly.

After statistics were extracted from the 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses, the returns were destroyed by government order.

The bulk of the 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 returns were destroyed when the Public Record Office in Dublin was burned during the Irish Civil War in 1922. Some fragments survived.


1901- The earliest complete census for all Ireland is that of 1901. This may be inspected at the National Archives in Dublin and at PRONI in Belfast. Parts of it may be inspected on microfilm in some branch libraries and other repositories. Most county libraries now have the returns for their area.

Full name indexes to the returns for Fermanagh and Tyrone have been published on microfice by Largy Books. These are available in various repositories. Ask at your local library... you never know!

In order to get the best results, you need to know exactly where your family was living on 31 March 1901 - the townland or small town in rural areas; the street, avenue or drive, etc., in large towns or cities.


1911 - The original returns from the 1911 Census are held at the National Archives in Dublin. These are in the process of being microfilmed. They are not available to the public yet in Northern Ireland. To get results, you need to know where your Irish ancestors lived on 2 April 1911.
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