Surviving fragments of the Irish 1821-1851 censuses and search forms for the 1841 and 1851 censuses have been made available online.
The National Archives of Ireland says: “The National Archives, in partnership with FindMyPast and FamilySearch, has just placed online some valuable new genealogical resources which complement the material already on our genealogy website. They are:
- Census survivals, 1821–1851 – surviving and copy census returns from the pre-famine period, with considerable clusters of records for places like Cavan, Meath and Antrim;
- Census Search Forms, 1841-1851 – records of searches in the census records pre-1922 to provide proof of age as eligibility for the Old Age Pension, introduced in 1909. These records give names and ages of members of the family in 1841 or 1851, and very often the maiden name of the applicant’s mother.
“These collections deal with 600,000 individuals in all, a substantial record of an important period in Irish history while the final tranche of our Soldiers’ Wills covering 1917-1918 are now also available to search online.”
Findmypast says: “This is the first free-to-access launch resulting from an innovative partnership between findmypast, the National Archives of Ireland, and FamilySearch.org. Millions more essential family history records will be released in the coming months under the terms of the partnership, which represents a fruitful collaboration between a national cultural institution and private sector genealogy suppliers. The partnership allows people in Ireland and abroad to have free access to records relating to their Irish roots, which were not previously available online.
Destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922
“Irish family histories are notoriously difficult to trace, owing to the destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922. On the 30th June 1922 two huge explosions rocked the Record Office, causing a fire that destroyed millions of records – and with them hundreds of years of Irish history. These included a substantial number of Irish census records from the 19th century.
“The surviving records open an online archive of Irish history to everyone interested in tracing an Irish heritage. The records cover three decades, 1821-1851, and include the surviving Irish census records from 1821-1851, and census search forms from 1841 & 1851.
Ireland census 1821-1851
“Every ten years a census of the Irish population was taken between 1821 and 1911 and, luckily for Irish family historians, the manuscript returns for each household survived the 1922 fire for all 32 counties for 1901 and 1911. The new records add to the existing census and include information pre-dating 1901, with data sets covering some parts of the country now available from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851. The 1821 census is a particular highlight for family historians, as it records all members of the families documented.
“The 1841 & 1851 census records family members living elsewhere, and also provides information on family members who died in the intervening period, such as Jeremiah Crowley’s family. Jeremiah, a 27-year old farmer from Cork, was living with his wife and three-year-old child in 1841. Jeremiah’s parents both died after the 1831 census, and tragedy had recently touched the young family with the death of their one-year-old baby.
“For those who have family from Derry such as Declan Donnelly, aka “Dec” from Ant & Dec, the 1831 census could yield treasures for their family tree. Dec’s great-great-grandfather James Donnelly appears in Strawmore in the 1831 Census.
Ireland census search forms 1841 & 1851
“These records are comprised of search forms used to corroborate the validity of pension claims made in 1908 and are extracted from the 1841 & 1851 census, which were subsequently destroyed in the fire. They represent a very useful link to pre-famine Ireland, and also list the applicant’s details and all of the information available from the census records – including other family members present on census night.
“To learn more about the records and to access them free of charge visit The National Archives of Ireland or findmypast. The records will be available shortly on FamilySearch.org.”