Ireland Census Substitutes

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Ireland Gotoarrow.png Ireland Census

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.

The Pender "Census" of 1659
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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 British 941.5 X29c.)

Civil Survey[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. The Strafford Survey compiled c.1636 is available for the County of Mayo in the province of Connaught and serves as a substitute. 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 British 941.5 R2si.)

Books of Survey and Distribution[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 are available for the counties of Clare, Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon. 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).

Down Survey[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.

Look in the Family History Library Catalog under the following heading:


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).

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. A freehold 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 Family History Library 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

Spinning Wheel Premium Lists[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 Family History Library 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).

Strafford Survey[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.

Tithe Applotment[edit | edit source]

The Tithe Applotment records were records of assessment 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. 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 Taxation section of this page. 

Griffith's Valuation[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 the original assessment and 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 this record. Subsequent valuations were taken annually throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century and tracing a plot of ground through the later valuations can often give clues of death, migration, emigration, or the transfer of the property to another tenant or descendant. See the Taxation section of this page.

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 Family History Library Catalog