Saturday 26 March 2011

Irish ancestors in England, Scotland or Wales?

To coincide with UK Census Day*, is offering 24 hours of free access to its 1841-1901 UK census record indexes for one day only: tomorrow, 27 March (see Stop Press below).

The offer allows access to all Ancestry's British indexes but if you want to see the original historical images, you have to take up a 14-day free trial.

Bear in mind that the 14-day trial requires you to sign up for a subscription and provide credit/debit card details; if you don't cancel the trial by phone or email within 14 days, your card will be charged the full price of the subscription. (Cancelling is not difficult, but remembering to do it can be!)

Millions of Irish-born appear in these censuses. Even before the famine, there had long been a tradition of seasonal migration, especially from the West and South West of Ireland, and short-term casual work in dockyards, mines and construction. But it wasn't until the 19th century that a permanent move to Britain's urban centres became more common.

Some stats of the Irish-born population of England, Scotland and Wales (these figures don't include the children of Irish migrants born in Britain):
  • 1841: 415,725
  • 1851: 727,326
  • 1861: 805,717
  • 1871: 774,310
  • 1881: 781,119
  • 1891: 653,122
  • 1901: 631,629

Most settled in urban centres near their ports of entry. In 1851, the four towns with the largest Irish-born population were London (108,548), Liverpool (83,813), Glasgow (59801), and Manchester (52,504).

These settlement patterns remained fairly constant until after the First World War.

Throughout the 19th century, Ireland was a part of Britain so there are no passenger lists or other records of travel across the Irish Sea (no more than there are today for passengers travelling by train or coach from Scotland to London or Cardiff).

Therefore, these censuses may be the only documentary proof you'll find of an ancestor having made the journey. Even if your genealogy research takes you into the New World, you should check these records because many Irish emigrants spent time in England, Scotland and Wales working and saving for their fare to North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Enjoy the census records!

*2011 Census Day is 27 March in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, but on 10 April in the Republic of Ireland.

27 March 1.30pm. Stop Press: Due to technical problems, some researchers haven't been able to access the records. This has now been resolved and Ancestry is extending the free access to midnight on Monday by way of apology to all.