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Irish Census Substitutes of 18th & 19th Centuries


The Convert Rolls:

A list of those converting from Catholicism to the Church of Ireland. The majority of entries date from 1760 to 1790.


Census for Protestant Householders:

This census covers protestant householders for parts of counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Donegal and Tyrone. It is arranged by barony and parish, it gives names only. This set of genealogical are held at the Public Record Offices of Northern Ireland, The National Library in Dublin.


Books of Survey and Distributions:

After the wars of the mid-17th century, such as the 1641 rebellion, the English government needed solid information on land ownership throughout Ireland to carry out its policy of land redistribution. The Books of Survey and Distribution record ownership before the Cromwellian and Williamite confiscations, c.1641, and after, c.1666-1668.


Elphin Diocesan Census:

This census is arranged by townland and parish. It lists householders, their religion, the numbers, sex and religion of their children and the numbers, sex and religion of their servants.



In March and April of 1766, on the instruction of the government, Church of Ireland rectors were to complete returns of all householders in their parishes, showing their religion, and giving an account of any Catholic clergy active in their area. The resulting census returns were very inconsistent, with some rectors only producing numerical totals of population, some drew up partial lists, and the most conscientious detailing all householders and their addresses individually. All the original returns were lost in 1922, but extensive transcripts survive for some areas.


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1796 - 1862

Charlton Trust Fund Marriage Certificates

As an encourage to Protestant population growth, the Charlton Trust Fund offered a small marriage gratuity to members of the Protestant labouring classes. To qualify, a marriage certificate recording occupations and father's names and signed by the local Church pf Ireland clergyman had to be submitted. These certificates are held in the National Library in Dublin. These are particular useful for weddings that occurred before the registration non-Catholic marriages in 1845.


Spinning Wheel Premium Entitlement Lists

As part of a government scheme to encourage the linen trade, free spinning-wheels or looms were granted to individuals planting a certain area of lan with flax. The lists of those entitled to the awards, covering almost 60,000 individuals were published in 1796 and record only the name of the individual and the civil parish in which he or she lived. Almost two-thirds of individuals listed lived in Ulster, but some names appear in every county in Ireland apart from Dublin and Wicklow.


Persons who Suffered Losses in the 1798 Rebellion

This is a list of claims for compensation from the government for property destroyed by the Fenian movement during the insurrection of 1798. This is a useful resource for those researching the property-owning classes of counties Wexford, Carlow, Dublin, Kilkenny and Wicklow.

1823 - 1838

Tithe Applotment Books

The Composition Act of 1823 specified that tithes due to the established church, the Church of Ireland, which had hitherto been payable in kind, should now be paid in money. As a result, it was necessary to carry out a valuation of the entire country, civil parish by civil parish, to determine how much would be payable by each landowner.


National School Records

In 1831, a country-wide system of primary education was established under the control of the Board of Commissioners for National Education. The most useful records produced by the system are the school registers, which record each pupil's name, their age, religion, father's address and occupation, and general observations. Unfortunately, in the Republic of Ireland no attempt has been made to centralise these records and they remain within the confines local schools and churches. However, the Public Records Offices has a collection of over 1,500 registers for schools in the six counties of Northern Ireland.


Griffith's Valuation

In order to produce the accurate information necessary for local taxation, the Tenement Act of 1842 provided for a uniform valuation of all property in Ireland, to be based on the productive capacity of land and the potential rent of buildings. The man appointed Commissioner of Valuation was Richard Griffith, a Dublin geologist, and the results of his great survey, the Primary Valuation were published between 1848 and 1864. The valuation is arranged by county, barony, poor law union, civil parish and townland, and lists every land-holder and every householder in Ireland. Apart from townland address and householders name, the particulars given are:

  • Name of the person from whom the property was leased ('immediate lessor')
  • Description of the property
  • Acreage
  • Valuation
  • The only directly useful family information supplied is in area where a surname was particularly common; the surveyors often adopted the Gaelic practice of using the father's first name to distinguish between individuals of the same name e.g. John Kelly (James) is the son of James, while John Kelly (Michael) is the son of Michael. The Griffith's Valuation was never intended to be a census substitute, because if the 1851 and 1861 census had survived it would have never been used.


    Landowners of Ireland. (Return of owners of land of one acre or more)

    This 1876 survey of Irish landowners consists of more than 32,000 individuals. It identifies landowners by province and county. Each entry records the address of the owner, along with the extent and valuation of the property. Only a small percentage of the population actually owned the land they occupied, but this set of records is invaluable for those who did.

    Major Sources of Irish Ancestry

    Church Records Land Records Directories
    Registry of Deeds Wills Emigration Records

    Genealogy Sources for each Irish County

    Antrim Armagh Carlow Cavan
    Clare Cork Derry (Londonderry) Donegal
    Down Dublin Fermanagh Galway
    Kerry Kildare Kilkenny Laois
    Leitrim Limerick Longford Louth
    Mayo Meath Monaghan Offaly
    Roscommon Sligo Tipperary Tyrone
    Waterford Westmeath Wexford Wicklow


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