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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Ireland, 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Masterson, Josephine. Ireland: 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland). Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1999.

About Ireland, 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland)

This database contains approximately 23,000 names, extracted from various records, that appeared in the 1841 and/or 1851 Irish census in Northern Ireland.

Historical Background

Most Irish national census records prior to 1901 were destroyed in the 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin. Knowing this, genealogist Josephine Masterson turned to other sources to re-create these abstracts of information that appeared on the 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses.

Masterson’s main source for the abstracts contained in this database were old age pension records. Old age pensions for those age 70 and above began in 1908. However, civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths in Ireland did not begin until 1864. To prove their eligibility, applicants submitted facts that were checked against entries in the 1841 and 1851 census records. These findings were recorded in summary books before the census was destroyed in the 1922 fire. Masterson also makes use of available census fragments, certified copies of portions of some returns, family transcriptions, and other records. For more detail on what and how records were used, you can refer to the introductions in Masterson’s Ireland: 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland), which you can access via the browse.

What You Can Find in the Records

Of course, applicants for old age pensions represent only a portion of society, and this database is not a complete reconstruction of either the 1841 or 1851 census. Masterson provides records for 3,568 households (960 for 1841 and 2,608 for 1851) in the following counties:

  • Antrim
  • Armagh
  • Down
  • Fermanagh
  • Lon’derry
  • Tyrone

The abstracts may include the following details:

  • name
  • relationship to head of household
  • age
  • marriage year
  • maiden name
  • remarks
  • residence

Masterson notes that these abstracts are transcriptions made from a secondary source, and while close attention has been given to detail, inaccuracies may still occur.

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