Family and Local History
[Bill Macafee's Website]

Sources
PRONI
Births, Deaths, & Marriages
Census Records
Valuation Records
Estate Records
Other Records

Census Records
1831 Census Returns for Co. Londonderry

Unlike 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. 

The 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 each household.

I 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 a surname. 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 the originals.

When I first created this database in 2010 I was concentrating on producing a index of names, and that is still my prime objective. Below is a link to a PDF file which provides a basic index of names and locations. Since 2010 there have been a number of corrections and additions to the original database. Note that this version of the database has been included for those of you who do not have a copy of Microsoft Excel. If you intend to use Excel then it probably best to ignore the PDF version.

Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry, sorted by Standardised Surname, Barony, Parish & Townland.

I have always wanted to add some of the statistical information which is available on the microfilms. So I have added statistical information to the Excel version of the 1831 database. This information is arranged within the columns shown below.

The first three columns give details of the number of a house or building withn 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] these are usually either 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.

This information has been completed for one barony [N. E. Liberties of Coleraine], three entire parishes [Ballynascreen, Kilcronaghan and Termoneeny] in the Barony of Loughinsholin and, to date, a few individual townlands in Coleraine Barony. I hope to add more townlands later. However, I cannot see me completing this task for every townland within the database. 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.

Householders listed in the 1831 Census for Co. Londonderry listed by Record No,* Excel

* 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 No. The names in the remaining townlands are sorted alphabetically by standardised surnames. I am working towards a situation where all townlands will be sorted by House No. Again, this is work in progress.

The reason why I want 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 enumerator 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 1831. I have just completed this exercise [minus the family statistics] for the town of Limavady.

Incidentally, if you sort the Excel database by Standardised Surname it will produce the same order of names and locations as the PDF file.

My Databases
Sperrins
Databases compiled from 19th Century Census Substitutes
Databases compiled from 18th Century Census Subtitutes
Databases compiled from 17th Century Census Subtitutes
Copyright 2014 W.Macafee.