1831 Census Returns for Co. Londonderry
Great Britain, where detailed Census Enumerators'
Returns are available from 1841, virtually none exist
for Ireland before 1901. However, in county Londonderry
we have a unique source which, as far as I know, is
not available for any other county in Ireland - the
1831 Census Returns. Despite being referred
to as census returns, they do not contain the detailed
information on individuals that we find in the 1901
and 1911 Census Returns. In
fact the returns were produced as a Religious
Census for use in the First Report of the Commission
of Public Instruction (1834/35), thus the
predominance of information on individual religions.
The categories of Established Church, Roman Catholic,
Presbyterian and other Protestant Dissenters are similar
to the categories used in the 1766 Religious Census.
Nevertheless, despite not being a full-blown census
return, the 1831 Census Returns are a valuable source.
If nothing else, they clearly demonstrate the limitations
of the Tithe Applotment Books as a source for family
names in the early part of the nineteenth century.
census returns are organised by barony, civil parish
and townland. Click
here to see copies of pages covering parts of
some townlands in the baronies of Loughinsholin and
Keenaght. These copies have been scanned from the
microfilm version of this source. In these pages you
will see the kind of information that is given for
have created a database of the c.40,000 names listed
in this census along with the barony, parish and townland
in which each householder lived. Note that I cannot
guarantee that the names listed in the database are
all correct. Also there are many variant spellings
of many surnames. To help overcome this problem I
have used a system of "standardised" spelling
to group together variant spellings of a name, thereby
making it easier to see patterns in the distribution
of surnames. For example the name McIntyre is
spelt a number of different ways within the returns
- McIntyre, McEntyre, McEntire, etc. McIntyre is used
as the standardised spelling in one column of the
database and the actual, variant spellings are listed
in a separate column. However, at the end of the day
if in doubt about a surname you will need consult
the microfilms in either PRONI or in the Ballymena
and Coleraine libraries. In some cases you might have
to go to the National Archives in Dublin to look at
I first created this database in 2010 I was concentrating
on producing a index of names, and that is still my
prime objective. However, I have always wanted to
add the statistical information which is available
on the microfilms. So I have been adding this information
over tthe last few years. This information is arranged
within the columns shown below.
of Families in House
No. in House
of Males in Family
of Females in Family
of Male Servants
of Female Servants
first three columns give details of the number of
a house or building within a townland, the number
of families living in that house [usually one] and
the total number of persons living in that house.
The next four columns give some detail on the numbers
and makeup of the house. The occupants are divided
into two groups - the number of males and females
in the family and the number of male and female servants
living with the family. The next four columns provide
information on the religion of the members of the
household - EC [Established Church] RC [Roman Catholic]
PR [Presbyterian] and PD [Other Protestant Dissenters]such
as Covenanters, Baptists or Methodists and, occasionally
there is a note to that effect. No distinction is
made between family members and servants in the columns
on religion. However, it is usually fairly easy to
work out the religion of servants within a household.
I have not been able to cover all of the townlands
in the county. So you will have to be content with
a somewhat haphazard selection [reflecting the areas
within the county where I have carried out more detailed
studies of groups of townlands and parishes]. This
information will be of most valuable to those of you
living outside Ireland and you may just be lucky that
I have included the townland or townlands in which
you are interested. The table below will give you
an idea of the parts of the county where statistical
information is included in the database.
.E. Liberties of Coleraine
parishes & all townlands.
townlands in the parishes of Errigal,
Desertoghill & Kilrea. Some others
townlands in the parishes of Kilrea, Tamlaght
O'Crilly, Killelagh, Maghera,
Termoneeny, Ballyscullion, Magherafelt,
Kilcronaghan & Ballynascreen. I
am still working on the parishes of Desertmartin
& Desertlyn. Some others may follow.
townlands in the parishes of Balteagh,
Banagher, Bovevagh, Drumachose & Dungiven.
am still working on the parish of Tamlaght
Finlagan. Some others may follow.
townlands in the parishes of Banagher &
Cumber Upper. I
am still working on the parishes of Cumber
Lower & Faughanvale. The parish of Clondermot
will not be included.
W. Liberties of L/Derry
parishes & no townlands.
that in 1831 the townlands of Beagh Temporal, Culnagrew,
Knockoneill & Swatragh were part of Maghera Parish.
By the time of the Griffith's Valuation in 1859 they
were part of Killelagh parish.
the time of the Griffith's Valuation of 1859 a new
parish of Carrick had been created consisting
of townlands taken from the 1831 parishes of Balteagh,
Bovevagh and Tamlaght Finlagan.
the time of the Griffith's Valuation of 1859 a new
parish of Learmount had been created consisting
of townlands taken from the 1831 parish of Cumber
Upper and the parish of Banagher lying within the
Barony of Tirkeeran. The Parish of Banagher in the
Barony of Keenaght remained intact.
listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry
listed by Record No.*
This database is sorted by Record No. which means
that it is primarily sorted by Barony, Parish and
Townland. The names within each townland, where extra
statistical information is included, are sorted by
House Nos. The names in the remaining townlands are
sorted alphabetically by standardised surnames. This
Excel file will allow you to do all sorts of searches
and is better for identifying patterns.
reason why I wanted a sort by House Nos. is that the
listing of households in the returns normally follow
a geographical order which reflects the route that
the enumerators took around a townland or street.
Because of this, it is usually possible to match the
names in the 1831 Census Returns with the c.1830 Tithe
Books in rural areas and the c.1830 Townland Valuation
in towns. Note that many of the towns have accompanying
valuation maps for the 1830s. Having done that, it
is often possible to match many of the 1831 names
and locations with the 1858/59 Griffith's Printed
[Tenement] Valuation and its accompanying maps. This
means that for some households you should be able
to get some idea of where individual houses and families
may have been located within a townland or street
in the first half of the nineteenth century.
have also included a PDF
file which provides an index of names and barony/parish/townland
locations within the entire county - sorted by Standardised
Surname, Barony, Parish & Townland. This file
does not include the statistical data.