Taking a Deeper Dive into the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census Records

Perhaps you’ve already explored each of the 1901 and 1911 census records of Ireland, or are about to. Either way have you maximized all the readily available opportunities to explore further discoveries and to ensure you have not overlooked any information? Below find 10 ways to ensure you are leveraging these wonderful - and FREE - resources at the National Archives of Ireland.

Completed Years the Present Marriage

In the 1911 census the question is now asked to identify the completed years of marriage. An incredible source of information to provide insights into a marriage date and to cross check ages of the married couple against other records that may be found. Additionally it is a good idea to review the ages of the children does that align with the years of marriage? If for example there is a children aged 16 years of age, and the completed years of marriage are 14, does that mean the child was born out of wedlock (either to this set of parents or others), or is either the years married or age of the child incorrect?

Total Children Born Alive vs Total Children Living

In 1911 married women were asked to identify the total number of children born alive vs still living. If there is a different - one more path to pursue for research. If there are children that died between the census period there could be additional information on the death records of value. If the family used a family naming pattern it is possible that in the 1911 census i) if the name appears again for a same gendered child ii) the ages appear inconsistent between the two timeframes, that this is a child that was born after 1901. For, it was common in some families to name their next child following a deceased child of the same gender, the same name.

Comparison of Ages Between 1901 and 1911

There are numerous reasons why ages may not quite add up, in our present day expectation of accuracy, between the ten years of the 1901 to the 1911 census. Say for an example an ancestor is 40 in 1901 and 54 in 1911. Logically one could easily deduct it’s not the same person. Drawing to such a quick conclusion could mean you forfeit connecting information in your family tree. Discrepancy, seemingly significant, can be attributed to the interpretation made by the census taker, what was told by the individual providing the information, a desire to mask one’s true age, even possibly not truly knowing one’s age. Therefore use this as an opportunity to take pause and investigate further. It could simply be an incorrect attribution, or it could be something to use in furthering your research.

Transcription vs Original

While the transcribed version of the Household Return A is easier to view, it is important to review the original in case there has been an error in transcription. If you do find one not the provision the National Archives offers to submit this and to aid other researchers.

Household Return (A) Page 2

Looking at the second page of the household return yields information that is useful to leverage when looking for other records. This page 2 identifies the poor law union, the district electoral district, barony, parish and townland - all good reference points.

House and Building Return (B) Page 1

On this section of the return you will find a description of the property in terms of the “particulars of inhabited houses”. Details on the walls, roof, rooms, windows are all clues that can assist you in making comparisons between census years (for eg. were your ancestors in the same property in 1901 as 1911) and to any old photographs you may hold. Moreover capture the name of the landholder in 1901 to 1911. Are they the same or have they differed? This could provide some insights to conduct further research on.

Last take note of others listed as head of households - both in terms of individuals with the same surnames as well as different ones. Ones carrying the same surname more than likely - but not guaranteed - will be connected to your family as not many of the Irish moved between areas that frequently. If the surnames vary, are these neighbors that could appear as sponsors on vital records (eg. birth, baptism, marriage or death records)? Or could there may be a family connection for example the head of the household is married to a female ancestor of yours?

Out Offices and Farm-Steadings

A wonderful way to gain insight into to what, in additional to where they resided, was a part of their daily lives. On the Out Offices and Farm-Steadings each household is identified to whether they have a stable, cow house, piggery, potato house to name just a few. This information can be useful to cross reference against other research you have or will be researching and provides a way to validate what you may uncover.

Relationship Identification

Generally the relationship identification will likely be accurate however it is good to take a close look “just in case”. Imagine - and there are such records to be found - a woman is listed as “single” in her marital status but her relationship to the head of the household indicates she is the “daughter-in-law”. Moreover there is one only one son who is listed as married. Take a look at this example.

Individual’s First Name Identification

From one census to the next the first name of an individual may appear different. This could be due to a misspelling, how it was communicated or interpreted. It’s always a good idea to take note in case this is not your ancestor, or it is your ancestor and this is another way to look for them in records.

Occupation Identification

Take a look at the occupations listed against your ancestors between the censuses’ - are they the same or do they differ? Is there a reason for this difference that either points to them changing their occupation or could prove to be a different and unrelated person to your family history.

So next time you take a look at the census records be sure to take that deep dive. You never know what it may yield in supporting an addition or a change to your family tree.

Fancy a little extra genealogy inspiration headed to your inbox each week? Join The Genealogy Event community newsletter - with the weekly delivery of “Sleuthability”. JOIN HERE.