The Census of Elphin Diocese

1749
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The Census of Elphin was organized by the Bishop Edward Synge in 1749 to establish the numbers of Protestants and Roman Catholics in his diocese (which embraced most of County Roscommon, part of south-east County Sligo and part of north-east County Galway). The information contained in this “census” is extraordinary for such an early date.

In 1749, Edward Synge (1691-1762), Protestant Bishop of Elphin, was anxious to know the proportion of Protestants to "Papists" (a name he used to refer to Catholics).   So, he arranged to have a census of population undertaken throughout his diocese. The census covers 69 parishes, and the major towns of Sligo, Roscommon, Boyle and that part of Athlone which is in County Roscommon.

Arranged by parish and townland, it lists the heads of households, with occupation, religion, the number and religion of their children, plus the number, sex and religion of each of their servants.  Some parishes supply the Christian name of the householder’s wife, others merely phrase the entry as “Peter O’Connor and wife”. All religious and economic classes were covered and the census appears very complete.  The document gives a unique insight into rural Ireland in the mid-18th century.

The Diocese of Elphin diocese covers most of County Roscommon, plus parts of County Galway and County Sligo:

Co. Roscommon - 51 of the 59 parishes are included (excluded are Castlemore, Creagh, Drum, Kilcolman, Kilronan, Kiltullagh, Moore and Taghmaconnell),

Co. Galway - 8 parishes are included (Ahascragh, Ballynakill, Dunamon, Kilbegnet, Kilcroan, Killeroran, Killian, Killosolan)

Co. Sligo - 13 parishes are included (Aghanagh, Ahamlish, Ballynakill, Ballysumaghan, Drumcliff, Drumcolumb, Killadoon, Kilmacallan, Kilmactranny, Kilross, St John's, Shancough, Tawnagh).

This information can be viewed in the publication The Census of Elphin 1749 edited by Marie-Lousie Legg, with a statistical analysis by Brian Gurrin, published in 2004 by the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

It can also be searched online at findmypast.ie (This dataset includes records for 19,820 households in the Diocese of Elphin in 1749. The data is accompanied by digitised images of the full publication).

Comments

  • Always had trouble with findmypast - I find it a little dicey and pricey. e.g. the information and link here, does clearly links to a page that strongly leads you to believe if you put in the name of your ancestor it will be searching the census of elphin - however this is not the case, and there is seemingly no way to restrict your search to that census. I am hopeful in the future, that another source will be found for this census where we can truly search just that census. Until then, I do not find the findmypast's "way" of getting people to the site, nor their searches, helpful - and they are expensive. I've run into this before with them, and have been disappointed again to be led there for naught. However, the source of the information in print is approximately 66 pounds, well.,..it would be worth it if I knew that my relatives surname was actually in there, but can't tell that from either source given.

    vicki2810

    Thursday 18th June 2020, 04:25AM
  • Always had trouble with that site - I find it a little dicey and pricey. e.g. the information and link here, does clearly links to a page that strongly leads you to believe if you put in the name of your ancestor it will be searching the census of elphin - however this is not the case, and there is seemingly no way to restrict your search to that census. I am hopeful in the future, that another source will be found for this census where we can truly search just that census. However, the source of the information in print is approximately 66 pounds, well.,..it would be worth it if I knew that my relatives surname was actually in there, but can't tell that from either source given.

    vicki2810

    Thursday 18th June 2020, 04:40AM
  • Here's how to do a filtered search of the Elphin Census (only) on FindMyPast...

    1. Click on Advanced Search (or from the SEARCH drop-down in the top menu bar, select "Census, Land, and Substitutes" (both will bring you to the Advanced Search page, which gives you the option to restrict your search by record set).

    2. Enter your ancestor's surname (tick "Name Variants" as well)

    3. Under Record Set start typing "Elphin..." and select "The Census of Elphin 1749" when it appears in a drop-down. 

    4. It will quickly tell you how many results are in the Elphin Census for that surname. (For example, "Lloyd" has 12 results)

    5. Clicking on the results bar will take you through to a listing of name by parish. 

    6. The great thing about the Elphin Census is that it does specify townland (but the spellings are very hard to match up, so be sure to post a query to our Volunteer Message board for assistance deciphering them). 

    7. It then helps to cross-compare to the same parish in the Flax Growers List of 1796 (aka the Spinning Wheel Survey)

    What surname/parish were you looking for? If your parish matches my own, I can probably confirm for you. 

     

     

    Rua

    Thursday 18th June 2020, 04:52AM