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Religious Census of Ireland

Nature of Source

Records from the 1766 Religious Census of Ireland. As part of the attempt to maintain the power and influence of the established Protestant Church of Ireland, the authorities authorised the undertaking of a census to establish the religious affiliations of the population. The census listed about 11,000 heads of household showing their religion affiliation, whether Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and most importantly whether Roman Catholic. The census also identified any Catholic priests active in the area.

The entire collection was destroyed during the attack on the Four Courts during the civil war in 1922. However, many of the returns had previously been transcribed by Tenison Groves. Some caution is needed when dealing with the returns as Groves' interpretation of the returns may not be accurate and deciphering his handwriting has proved troublesome.

See Also
Surname Origins and Distribution

Where Found

Period Covered

1766 - 1766

Genealogical Value

Name of head of household, address (townland or parish), religion, number of children

Further References

Family History Guides  

Adolph, Anthony. Collins Tracing Your Irish Family History: HarperCollins, 2007

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Begley, Donal. Handbook on Irish Genealogy: How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relatives: Heraldic Artists, 1984

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Connell, Gretta. Tracing Your Westmeath Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Corrigan, Mario &  Durney, James & Kiely, Karel. Tracing your Kildare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Davis, Bill. Irish Ancestry - A Beginner's Guide: FFHS, 2001

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Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scottish-Irish Ancestral Research: GPC, 1981 (1962)

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Franklin, Margaret. Tracing your Limerick Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Grenham, John. Irish Ancestors, A Pocket Guide to Your Family History: Gill & Macmillan, 2004

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Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: Gill & Macmillan, 2011

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Hamrock, John. Tracing your Roscommon Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon

Kinealy, Christine. Tracing Your Irish Roots: Appletree Press, 2009

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McCarthy, Tony. The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1991

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McCarthy, Tony & Cadogan, Tim. Tracing Your Cork Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Ancestors in Northern Ireland: A Guide to Ancestry Research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Stationery Office, 1997

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Maxwell, Ian. Researching Armagh Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Maxwell, Ian. Researching Down Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. How To Trace Your Irish Ancestors: How To Books, 2009

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Maxwell, Ian. Your Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2008

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2010

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Meehan, Helen & Duffy, Godfrey. Tracing Your Donegal Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Basic Guide to Irish Records for Family History: Clearfield Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Tracing Derry-Londonderry Roots: Clearfield Company, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Connor, Michael H. Tracing your Kerry Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 1994 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Dowd, Peadar. Tracing your Galway Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon

Ouimette, David. Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide: Ancestry.com, 2005

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Paton, Chris. Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide For Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Prochaska, Alice, Irish History from 1700: A Guide to Sources in the Public Record Office: British Records Association, 1986

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Raymond, Stuart. Irish Family History on the Web: The Family History Partnership, 2007

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Roulston, William. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2005

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Ryan, James. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History: Flyleaf Press, 1997

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Ryan, James & Smith, Brian. Tracing Your Dublin Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Ryan, James. Tracing your Sligo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian. Tracing your Mayo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian & Kennedy, Gerry. Tracing Your Clare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Stewart, Alan. My Ancestor Was Irish: A Guide to Sources for Family Historians: Society of Genealogists, 2012

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Other  
Bradshaw's Railway Map Great Britain and Ireland 1852: Mapseeker Publishing, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Connolly, S.J. The Oxford Companion to Irish History: Oxford University Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon
Coogan, Tim, Pat. The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Dickson, R.J. Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1718-1775: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1976 Buy Now on Amazon
Grenham, John. The Little Book of Irish Clans and Tartans: Book Sales, 1995 Buy Now on Amazon
Robinson, Philip. Plantation of Ulster: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Paul & Turner, Keith. Railway Atlas of Ireland Then & Now: Ian Allan Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Websites

www.nationalarchives.ie/PDF/ReligiousCensus.pdf (Religious Census 1766: A Guide to Surviving Material)
www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/proninames/1766_religious_census.htm (About the 1766 Religious Census Returns)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/records/census/eight.htm#hsehldrs (1766: Religious Survey)
www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Ireland_Census#Religious_Censuses_1740_and_1766 (FamilySearch Research Wiki: Ireland Census)
www.censusfinder.com/ireland.htm (Census records online in Ireland)
www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/index.html (Irish Genealogy Toolkit will guide you to your Irish ancestors)
www.irishtimestraining.com (Online Tracing your Irish Ancestors Course designed and presented by the genealogist John Grenham. The 11 modules will give you the tools and techniques to comprehensively trace your Irish family history. The online tutorials will provide you with a wide-ranging guide to all the records, resources and research techniques you will need)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse (A county-by-county listing of relevant records)
www.rootsweb.com/~nirwgw (Information on Northern Irish counties and available resources)
www.iar.ie (Irish Archives Resource: The site contains information about archival collections open for public research in Ireland from many organisations, societies, political organisations and businesses)
https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/lesson/getting-started-in-irish-genealogy/594 (FamilySearch.org: Learning Center Online Genealogy Course: Getting Started in Irish Genealogy. Lecture designed to acquaint beginning genealogist with strategies and sources for getting started in Irish genealogy)
www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/irish-records-what-is-available/church-records (Irish Genealogy: Research in Ireland: Irish Records: What Is Available?)
www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/irish-genealogical-research-getting-started/how-to-start-your-family-history (Irish Genealogy: How To Start Your Family History)
www.cyndislist.com/ireland.htm (Ireland genealogy links)
www.irelandgenweb.com (Information on Irish counties and available resources)
www.rootsweb.com/~fianna (Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy)
www.thecore.com/seanruad (IreAtlas Townland database)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/placenames (1851 General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, parishes and Baronies of Ireland)

Online Databases

www.ancestry.co.uk/ireland (Ireland 1766 Religious Census. Index extracted from fragments of the 1766 Religious census hand written by Tenison Groves many years before the fire in the Four Courts Building in 1921 that destroyed the original returns)
PRONI Name Search (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Name Search: Indexes to surviving fragments of the 1740 and the 1766 religious census returns)
www.rootsireland.ie (Irish Family History Foundation: Online Genealogy Databases for Ireland including the Religious Census. See web site for material available for each county which can include births/baptisms, marriages and deaths, Griffiths valuation and census returns)
Ulster Ancestry Free Genealogy Pages (Transcriptions of sources specific to Ulster genealogy including a number of the religious census transcripts. Ulster Ancestry also offers a specialist ancestral research service for those wishing to trace their family origins in Northern Ireland)
www.igp-web.com/tipperary/census1766/index.htm (Tipperary Religious Census, 1766)
www.irishancestors.ie/?page_id=5392
(Irish Genealogical Research Society: Index of Townlands, 1901: Searchable database of over 64,000 townlands in Ireland which are ancient land divisions measuring from just a few acres to several hundred and still in use today)

Many transcriptions exist at a local level and many are available online.