Content associated with: County Cork (East Riding), 1851    Page 113

Census of Ireland, 1851

Matthew Woollard

The fourth successful census of Ireland was held in 1851, and like its predecessor was held on the same day (31 March 1851) as the census elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The administrative arrangements followed the pattern laid down in 1841. In October 1850 the Lord Lieutenant gave William Donnelly, the Registrar-General of Marriages, responsibility for carrying out the census. (It is probable that Thomas Aiskew Larcom (1801-1879) had declined this responsibility through ill-health. (Froggatt, 1965).) Donnelly was assisted by Edward Singleton who was appointed Secretary to the census.

An act of parliament (Census (Ireland) Act, 1850 (13 & 14 Vict. c.44)) authorising the census was passed in late July 1850. The provisions of the act are virtually identical to those made for the census of 1841, giving a considerable amount of latitude to the Lord Lieutenant and his appointees for the scope of information which was to be collected. As a consequence, the commissioners widened the scope of the census.

As in 1841 the police were to act as enumerators wherever possible, though tax collectors were also to perform. Enumeration took place on 31 March 1851. Antipathy to the census has been reported, and one of the reasons reported for this antipathy was the reminder of the catastrophes following both the previous census in Ireland as well as the census reported in the Bible; another related to the idea of the census as a tax-collecting exercise.

The main form used was known as Form A (family return) and consisted of three parts: The first, the ordinary family schedule, covered the main 'family' listing, comprising, name, age, sex, relationship to head of family, marital status, year(s) of marriage, occupation, education (either 'Read', 'Read and Write' or 'Cannot Read'), Irish language, place of birth and whether deaf and dumb or blind. The second part was to elicit information on those family members who were absent on census night, and the third was to collect information on those who had died in the previous ten years. (This latter table was altered slightly from that used in 1841 — it now asked for the more specific season of death.) The householders were expected to complete Form A, while the enumerators were to complete Form B. This subsidiary form collected information on the quality of the housing stock, and on family groups living within each dwelling. The main alteration in this form to its predecessor was that it elicited information on the total number of outside windows for each house.

Other more specific forms were devised to allow easier enumeration of residents of institutions and ships. A separate Form B called the 'Ship Return' was used in conjunction with the ordinary Form A to enumerate those on board ships.

The innovatory Form C was also distributed to ordinary families, but only to those families where any of its members were sick on census night. This collected some personal information, restating some of the details already recorded on Form A, but also expected information on whether or not the person suffering from sickness was able to follow their usual occupation, what disease or accident had caused the illness, and for how long the sufferer had been affected.

Other forms were used for institutional returns.

There was also separate form provided as a separate enquiry for those reported as deaf-and-dumb.

This proliferation of forms highlights some of the difficulties in collecting information at the previous census, though the process of the physical collection of forms and the completion of Form B by the enumerators was unchanged suggesting that these elements of the process were considered to be successful in 1841.

The census was published in six parts over a confusing series of parliamentary papers and command papers. The first 'part', made up of four 'volumes' (each representing a province and often bound together in pairs) gives the returns of population for each county. Each county section was allocated a separate command number (see Parliamentary Papers and other government publications relating to population for further details), though in the annual parliamentary paper series, each province was considered to be a separate volume. The county sections are laid out identically. Population figures for 1841 and 1851, along with the number of houses and the poor law valuation for 1851, are given for each parish and townland within the various baronies of the county. A summary for each barony is provided at the end of this sequence along with any parish-level population statistics for cities. A further sequence reports the same information sub-divided for each poor law union and its electoral divisions.

None of the figures reported on in the first part which relate to 1841 are taken from the 1841 report, but from the Addenda to the census of Ireland published in 1844, and the statistics relating to both Electoral Divisions and Poor Law Unions for the same year were aggregated up from the townland statistics published in the same volume.

The second part, the Returns of agricultural produce in 1851, contained information which was not collected in the census process, but given that the census commissioners were sanctioned to collect these data they formed part of the census series.

Part three was the Report on the status of disease, covering the answers to the questions relating to sickness on census night. The report, signed by Sir William Wilde (1815-1876) also includes a nosology of illnesses including local, popular and Irish names.

Part four was the Report on ages and education, which included the numbers and ages of people by provinces, counties, baronies and towns, and the number, ages and proportions in the various literacy groupings. It is this report which gives the numbers of the Irish speaking population.

Part five, Tables of deaths, was divided into two volumes. The first of these contained a commentary by William Wilde, leaving the second volume purely for the statistical tables.

The sixth and final formal part of the reports was the General report which contained a detailed and informative commentary on the census, and provided a detailed national survey of the information presented in the other parts, along with a series of county tables reported on population, housing, house-accommodation, marriage, Irish-speakers and occupations. A number of miscellaneous tables reporting population for parliamentary boroughs, migration, numbers and ages of the married and ages by year. The general report also contained an appendix reproducing the various forms used in the enumerations and a large selection of the instructions to the enumerators.

As part of the following census, an alphabetical index to the townlands and towns, parishes and baronies of Ireland was published.

REFERENCES

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part I. Showing the area, population and number of houses by townlands and electoral divisions, Vol I. Province of Leinster, BPP 1852–3 XCI.

Parliamentary Paper page numbers and command numbers for the various county sections in this province are as follows:

Carlow BPP XCI.5– 1465. [View this document: County of Carlow, 1851]

Dublin BPP XCI.25– 1553. [View this document: County and City of Dublin, 1851]

Kildare BPP XCI.57– 1481. [View this document: County of Kildare, 1851]

Kilkenny BPP XCI.89– 1486. [View this document: County of Kilkenny, 1851]

King's County BPP XCI.129– 1488. [View this document: King's County, 1851]

Longford BPP XCI.157– 1492. [View this document: County of Longford, 1851]

Louth BPP XCI.177– 1503. [View this document: County of Louth, 1851]

Meath BPP XCI.197– 1494. [View this document: County of Meath, 1851]

Queen's County BPP XCI.237– 1502. [View this document: Queen's County]

Westmeath BPP XCI.265– 1504. [View this document: County of Westmeath, 1851]

Wexford BPP XCI.297– 1527. [View this document: County of Wexford, 1851]

Wicklow BPP XCI.347– 1544. [View this document: County of Wicklow, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part I. Showing the area, population and number of houses by townlands and electoral divisions, Vol. II. Province of Munster, BPP 1852–3 XCI.

Command numbers for the various county sections are as follows:

Clare BPP XCI.383– 1552.[View this document: County of Clare, 1851]

Cork (East Riding) BPP XCI.429– 1550. [View this document: County Cork (East Riding), 1851]

Cork (West Riding) BPP XCI.499– 1551. [View this document: County of Cork (West Riding), 1851]

Kerry BPP XCI.547– 1543. [View this document: County of Kerry, 1851]

Limerick BPP XCI.601– 1554. [View this document: County of Limerick, 1851]

Tipperary (North R.) BPP XCI.649– 1549. [View this document: County of Tipperary (North Riding)]

Tipperary (South R.) BPP XCI.685– 1545. [View this document: County of Tipperary (South Riding), 1851]

Waterford BPP XCI.723– 1546. [View this document: County of Waterford, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part I. Showing the area, population and number of houses by townlands and electoral divisions, Vol. III. Province of Ulster, BPP 1852–3 XCII.

Command numbers for the various county sections are as follows:

Antrim BPP XCII.5– 1565. [View this document: County of Antrim, 1851]

Armagh BPP XCII.45– 1547. [View this document: County of Armagh, 1851]

Cavan BPP XCII.69– 1563. [View this document: County of Cavan, 1851]

Donegal BPP XCII.107– 1567. [View this document: County of Donegal, 1851]

Down BPP XCII.159– 1570. [View this document: County of Down, 1851]

Fermanagh BPP XCII.191– 1574. [View this document: County of Fermanagh, 1851]

Londonderry BPP XCII.231– 1571. [View this document: County of Londonderry, 1851]

Monaghan BPP XCII.259– 1575. [View this document: County of Monaghan, 1851]

Tyrone BPP XCII.293– 1579. [View this document: County of Tyrone, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part I. Showing the area, population and number of houses by townlands and electoral divisions, Vol. IV. Province of Connaught, BPP 1852–3 XCII.

Command numbers for the various county sections are as follows:

Galway BPP XCII.339– 1557. [View this document: County of Galway, 1851]

Leitrim BPP XCII.425– 1548. [View this document: County of Leitrim, 1851]

Mayo BPP XCII.453– 1542. [View this document: County of Leitrim, 1851]

Roscommon BPP XCI.515– 1555. [View this document: County of Clare, 1851]

Sligo BPP XCII.555– 1560. [View this document: County of Sligo, 1851]

Note: it looks very much like Roscommon was published in the wrong volume of the parliamentary paper sequence]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part II. Returns of agricultural produce in 1851, 1852–3 BPP XCIII [1589]. [View this document: Agricultural returns, Ireland, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part III. Report on the status of disease, 1854 BPP LVIII. [View this document: Report on the status of disease, Ireland, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part IV. Report on ages and education, 1856 BPP XXIX [2053]. [View this document: Ages and Education, Ireland, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part V. Tables of deaths. Vol. I., 1856 BPP XXIX. [2087-I]. [View this document: Tables of deaths, Vol. I, Ireland, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part V. Tables of deaths. Vol. II., 1856 BPP XXX. [2087-II]. [View this document: Tables of deaths, Vol. II, Ireland, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1851, The census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part VI. General report [with appendix, county tables, miscellaneous tables, and index to names of places], 1856 BPP XXXI. [2134]. [View this document: General report, Ireland, 1851]

Census of Ireland, 1861, General alphabetical index to the townlands and towns, parishes and baronies of Ireland, 1862 BPP LI [2942]. [View this document: General alphabetical index to the townlands and towns, parishes and baronies of Ireland, 1861]

E. Margaret Crawford, Counting the people. A survey of the Irish censuses, 1813–1913 (Dublin, 2003).

P. Froggatt, 'The demographic work of Sir William Wilde', Irish Journal of Medical Science, 6 (1965), 213–30.