Ireland Census Substitutes

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Online Databases[edit | edit source]

Census Substitutes[edit | edit source]

Census substitutes are records that, like censuses, provide lists of individuals living in a specific area. They are particularly helpful as substitutes for the destroyed national censuses and for the centuries prior to the national census.

Census substitutes may give the occupation, religion, residence, relationship, age, and/or the value of the property of the individuals they list. Here is a list of valuable Ireland Census Substitutes. An excellent summary of Irish Census Substitutes is also available on-line at the Ireland Genealogical Projects web page.

Here is a list of some important census substitutes.

Strafford Survey 1635-1637[edit | edit source]

The Strafford Survey was based on a series of inquisitions regarding land ownership in the Province of Connacht for the years 1635-1637. These were conducted by Thomas Wentworth who was the Lord Deputy and afterwards the Earl of Strafford. The basis for the survey was to produce revenue for the King and juries made up of the largest landowners in each county were instructed that their findings must be in favor of the king, or lose their estates. All but Galway conceded and the Galway jury abdicated after being severely fined by the Court of the Castle Chamber. Only the records for County Mayo survive.

Civil Survey 1654-1656[edit | edit source]

The Civil Survey was taken from 1654 - circa 1660. It was a survey of the holdings of landowners, their titles and tenures of their estates. Twenty-seven counties were included in the survey covering the provinces of Ulster, Leinster, Muster and a portion of Connaught. ;For the Civil Survey, see:

  • Simington, Robert C., editor. The Civil Survey, A.D. 1654-1656. 10 volumes. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1931-1945. (Family History Library book 941.5 R2si.)

The volumes were published by the Irish Manuscript Commission and are now available as part of their out-of-print online collection:

The Strafford Survey (Family History Library book 941.71 H2os), compiled c.1636, is available for the County of Mayo in the province of Connaught and serves as a substitute.

Down Survey 1656-1658[edit | edit source]

The Down Survey is a mapped record of landownership and selected items of settlement and topography. The survey was basically concerned with lands that were confiscated after the Cromwellian victory. The most important difference between the Civil and Down Surveys is that the Civil Survey areas were estimated by jurors, whereas the Down Survey lands were measured by trained surveyors. Trinity College, Dublin has made the survey available online Down Survey

Look in the FamilySearch Catalog for an Irish county of interest and the topic of 'Land and Property.'

An example for the County of Armagh is:

  • Armagh County Museum. A Distribution of Forfeited Lands, Returned by Down Survey: Shewing whose they were in anno 1641 and to whom they are now set out: County Armagh. Unpublished typescript no. M9. (Family History Library microfilm 1,279,356, item 10).

The Pender "Census" of 1659[edit | edit source]

This "census" was probably taken during Petty's survey between December 1654 and the year 1659. It details the names of the large estate owners and the numbers of Protestants and Catholics in each parish. The original clan names are also noted with the numbers of individuals of that surname. See:

  •  Pender, Séamus. A Census of Ireland, circa 1659: with supplementary material from the Poll Money Ordinances (1660-1661). Dublin: Stationery Office, 1939. (Family History Library book 941.5 X29c.)

This volume was published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission and is available online as part of their out-of-print collection.

Books of Survey and Distribution 1680[edit | edit source]

These were compiled c.1700 and are an official record of landed proprietors and their estates. They were used to access rents based on acreage called the "Quit Rent." This was payable each year based on land granted under the 1662 Act of Settlement and the subsequent 1665 Act of Explanation. Printed volumes published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission are available for the counties of Clare, Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon are available online as part of their out-of-print collection. A typewritten manuscript from the Genealogical Office, Dublin is available for the County of Louth.

  • Simington, Robert C. Books of Survey and Distribution, County of Roscommon. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1949. (Family History Library book British 941.5 B4b volume 1). Irish Manuscripts Commission Volume 1
  • Simington, Robert C. Books of Survey and Distribution, County of Mayo. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1956. (Family History Library book British 941.5 B4b volume 2). Irish Manuscripts Commission Volume 2
  • MacGiolla Cholille, Breandán. Books of Survey and Distribution, County of Galway. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1962. (Family History Library book British 941.5 B4b volume 3). Irish Manuscripts Commission Volume 3
  • Simington, Robert C. and Breandán MacGiolla Choille. Books of Survey and Distribution: Being Abstracts of Various Surveys and Instruments of Title, 1636-1703: County of Clare. Dublin: Stationery Office for the Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1967. (Family History Library book British 941.5 B4b volume 4). Irish Manuscripts Commission Volume 4
  • Genealogical Office. Books of Survey and Distribution: County Louth, 1659. Unpublished manuscript no. 541. Dublin: Genealogical Office. (Family History Library microfilm 100,225, item 3).

Burgess Rolls[edit | edit source]

The name has two meanings. 1) Refers to a citizen of an incorporated borough with the right to vote, 2) The elected official from that borough to serve as a representative in Parliament. The Burgess rolls obviously are records of the middle and upper class in the larger metropolitan areas of Ireland.

Freeholders Lists[edit | edit source]

These were compiled in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. A freeholder was the owner of a freehold, which was a tenure of real property inherited in fee simple; fee tail; or for life.

Freeman Lists[edit | edit source]

A freeman was one who was admitted to the freedom of an incorporated city, town or borough. There were several ways to become a freeman. The most common were by birth (the father's name is usually listed), service, marriage, or fine.

  • Admission by Birth was granted to sons, and sometimes daughters, of Free Citizens. Several generations of one family could hold the Freedom of an incorporated city at the same time.
  • Admission by Service was granted to those who completed an apprenticeship in one of the trade guilds of the city and paid a fee.
  • Admission by Marriage was granted to sons-in-law of Free Citizens.
  • Admission by Fine was confined to prosperous professional men who were required to pay a substantial sum of money into the city treasury.

Two additional types of admission were also recognized:

  • Admission by Grace Especial also known as Special Grace was equivalent to the modern Honorary Freedom, and was reserved for dignitaries and for craftsmen who were not in a trade guild.
  • Admission by an Act of Parliament to "Encourage Protestant Strangers to Settle in Ireland" was granted to French Huguenots and Quakers from England.

Hearth Money Rolls[edit | edit source]

Initiated in 1662, the Hearth Tax was collected and recorded on Hearth Money Rolls within the Court of the Exchequer. They were collected throughout the decade of the 1660's as a result of the Hearth Money Act of 1662 and additional amending legislation. For additional information, see Ireland Taxation - Hearth Tax.

Muster Rolls[edit | edit source]

These are roll calls of officers and men in each military regiment. They exist for the 17th – 20th centuries. For example, the listing for the year 1631 lists 13,092 names of men and officers in the muster rolls. A detailed listing of these records is found in Gibson, Jeremy and Alan Dell. Tudor and Stuart Muster Rolls, A Directory of holdings in the British Isles, Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies, 1989. (Family History Library book British 942 M2gj.)

Look in the FamilySearch Catalog under the heading:


Extracts of Muster Rolls were also made by Tenison Groves and deposited in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast, see:

  • Muster Rolls, 1698-1770 Family History Library microfilm 258,512
  • Muster Rolls, 1743-1757 Family History Library microfilm 258,513
  • Muster Rolls, 1757-1800 Family History Library microfilm 258,514
  • Muster Rolls, 1800-1805 Family History Library microfilm 258,515
  • Muster Rolls, 1805-1825 Family History Library microfilm 258,515

Church Registers and Vestry Minutes[edit | edit source]

Censuses may also be found in local church registers and in the vestry minutes (forerunners of parish councils run by the local worthies and closely linked with the church). There are plenty available, especially for the French and Napoleonic War period (1790-1815).

Spinning Wheel Premium Lists 1796[edit | edit source]

To increase the production of linen and the linen trade in 1796, Parliament began subsidizing the flax industry by providing spinning wheels and reels to qualified flax growers. The names provided in these lists provide an excellent snapshot for a time period known for its lack of records. Records for the counties of Dublin and Wicklow do not appear to have survived. There is an index to these records that was produced by All-Ireland Heritage in 1986.
In the FamilySearch Catalog, see heading:



  • Surname Index for the 1796 Spinning Wheel Premium Entitlement Lists of Ireland. Vienna, Virginia: All-Ireland Heritage, 1986. (Family History Library microfiche British Access Services Window 6341104).
  • Ireland - Linen Trade Board. A List of Persons to Whom Premiums for Sowing Flax-Seed in the Year 1796 have been adjudged by the Trustees of the Linen Manufacture. (Family History Library microfilm British 1,419,442).

Tithe Applotment 1823-1837[edit | edit source]

The Tithe Applotment books or records were land-based tax assessments placed on the occupiers and owners of land, taken from 1823–1837. Fifty-five percent of the parishes had been surveyed by 1830. The records list the names of the tenants, townlands, area by acreage, valuation of the property and the amount of the tithe payable. The Tithe Composition Acts required that payments be made in cash, rather than in-kind. The money collected went to the clergy of the Church of Ireland parish.

This record was indexed by surname in the Householder's Index, created by the staff of the National Library of Ireland and also available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The original records are in the National Archives of Ireland, Dublin. The 273 volumes for Northern Ireland were deposited in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast. See the Ireland Taxation section. 

Another index for the northern counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh, & Tyrone, produced in collaboration with the Genealogical Publishing Company and Heritage World, is available for purchase and is also available at the Family History Library on CD.

These records have been digitized and free indexes and images are now available online at and Indexes are also available online at subscription website

Griffith's Valuation 1847-1864[edit | edit source]

Commonly known by the name of the originator, Richard Griffith, the "Griffith'sValuation" replaced the Tithe Applotment records as the means for collecting fees on tenements and land. The Griffith's Valuation was conducted in the 1850's and 1860's. This record is also indexed in the Householder's Index mentioned above.

The common mistake made by researchers is to cease the search after locating a potential ancestor in Griffith's Valuation. Subsequent valuations were taken annually throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century and tracing a plot of ground through the later valuation revision books can often give clues of death, migration, emigration, or the transfer of the property to another tenant or descendant. See the Ireland Taxation section.

These records have been digitized and free indexes and images are now available online at Indexes and images are also available online at subscritption websites and  

Valuation Revision or "Cancellation" Books[edit | edit source]

The Valuation Revision Books continued from where the Griffith's valuation began. They are available well into the 20th century. The Genealogical Society of Utah has this collection on microfilm for the Republic of Ireland only. For a table of dates of coverage, see Dwight A. Radford and Kyle J. Betit, A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 2001) 274. (Family History Library book British 941.5 D27gg).

Click here for step-by-step instructions to find microfilm numbers for this collection in the FamilySearch Catalog

Valuation Revision books have been digitized and images are now available online for free at  

National Schools Registers 1850-1950[edit | edit source]

A national system of non-denominational schools was set up in 1832, much earlier than in England (1870). The National Schools Registers 1850-1950 for over 1500 schools in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone in Northern Ireland are extant. More than two thirds of them have pupil names.

Return of Owners of Land 1876[edit | edit source]

This records 32,614 owners of land of one acre or more in Ireland, identifying them by province and county, and giving their address along with the extent and valuation of their property. The Return is available on fiches 6393800-3 (7) from your FSC.[1]

Old Age Irish Pension Records[edit | edit source]

When the Irish government began to provide old age pensions in 1908, applicants were required to provide proof of their age but most were born before the government began registering births in 1864. Therefore extracts from the 1841 and 1851 censuses were accepted as proof of age. These extracts constitute a small substitute for the lost census. Irish Genealogy can provide additional background information.

Microfilm of the Old Age Pension Census Search Forms are available on microfilm at the Family History Library for the Republic of Ireland. Images for Northern Irelandare also available on microfilm at the Family History Library. A searchable index can be found at National Archives of Ireland.

Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources[edit | edit source]

The above list is of major collections that serve as census substitutes but there are many smaller collections or lists that could be considered census substitutes, such as a list of names of people in just one parish.

Similar to the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) for the United States, Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources: Ireland may be used to determine whether any Irish census substitutes have been printed in publications and in the collection of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This 34-volume work includes volumes for each county and two general volumes for the country. The work is available online, digital books and on microfiche in some family history centers 6110527. The work lists titles by category and by time period and gives the source and family history library call number for each source.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Christensen, Penelope. "Ireland Census and Census Substitutes (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),