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INTRODUCTORY LEVEL: National Census Records of Great Britain and Ireland. - Things Worth Knowing!


One of the best resources for general information about ancestors online are the British and Irish National Census Archives. These records contain the following information.


The names of all the people in the house on the night of the census, the sex of each person, the relationship of each person recorded to each other i.e. Head of house, wife, son, daughter, adopted or boarder. The records also reveal the age and occupation of each person listed, together with their place (or county) of birth and the address of the house being surveyed.


What isn't contained in the Census records unfortunately, is the maiden name of the female spouse - the wife of the hosuehold. Given that her age is listed - it's a matter of simple mathematics to work out the wife's Date of Birth however which is of some help when searching for her birth certificate subsequently.

The second thing to watch out for is the fact that secondary marital relationships are not recorded. That is to say, each household can only have one 'Head of Household' if a married son or daughter is living with their spouse in their parents house the 'Head/Wife' relationship will not be recorded for them. A handy way of spotting such a relationship however is as follows:

Depending on the age of the people involved when you see the Transcript of a Census Household record that lists someone of the same surname as that of the household with the relationship 'boarder' this may indicate that that person is the husband or wife of either a daughter or son of the household and not a lodger in the strict sense of the word. Census enumerators were limited in their choices when it came to the relationships which existed amongst the members of the household.



Census Available Online for Britain date from 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911. The reason why census information for 1921 on isn't available online is that these records remain under the management of the Registrar General and can by law only be released for general consumption 100 years after the date of the census. There was no census in 1941 in Britain because of the World War II.

Many online genealogy websites provide online transcripts and original images of all available British Census records at a cost.


The Census records in Ireland on the other-hand, both transcripts and original images are available free of charge from the Irish National Archives Offices Online. ( Unfortunately the first national census of Ireland was carried out in 1901 and because of the 100 year privacy rule, only 1901 and 1911 are currently available. There was no Census carried out in Ireland in 1921 due to the Irish Civil War made it too dangerous for enumerators.

Hope this is some help to those searching for ancestral relatives in Britain and Ireland!

1 comment(s), latest 6 years, 8 months ago

Michael Martin Cowley - (1841 - 1915) Spokane Washington

M.M. Cowley

My great great grand Uncle, Mike, left Rathdrum, County Wicklow, Ireland in 1856, at the tender age of 15 and travelled alone on a sail boat to New York and to the new world. He left behind his father Hugh Cowley, a shopkeeper and hotelier and his mother Bridget (nee Byrne).

Mike travelled first to Rochester NY, where he had an uncle and two years later he went west gold rushing. In Fort Leavenworth, he got a job as a pack handle for the Union army and later got promoted to 'sulter' an old word for an army shopkeeper. This job took him further west and just before the Civil War in 1861 he left the army supply business and went pan gold-rushing (placer) with a brother of his. In the early 1870's he used the gold he had accumulated to buy a bridge and a shop & boarding house at a place known as Spokane Bridge in the State of Washington. There he operated a ferry across the Spokane River and ran his trading post.

In order to survive after the gold-rush, he started to trade fur with the local Native Indian tribes such as Nez Peirez and the Spokanes. He borrowed a young Indian boy from one of the tribes who came to work for him with the intention of learning their language which he did.

Later he moved to a house north of the Spokane with his wife Annie Connolly (also Irish) who he had married in Walla Walla and became involved with the Traders National Bank of Spokane which he finally had majority shares in. He was survived in 1915 by two daughters Mary Francis who married Dr. J. F. Reddy of Medford Oregon and Eleanor B who married James Smyth who owned a plumbing and heating company in Spokane.

Mrs Francis Reddy had one son and two daughters and Eleanor had a son and a daughter.

While much has been written about M.M. Cowley as being a founding father of the North West and his pioneering spirit, less has been revealed about his own family the Cowleys. His sister Eliza Farrell (nee Cowley) was my great great grandmother. She lived in Rathdrum County Wicklow Ireland. From records and journals it is known that Mike had another brother in the North West with whom he went gold-rushing. His name however is not mentioned. It is my belief this man also remained in North Western States. Secondly, while not recorded to the best of my knowledge M.M. Cowley also had a sister Natalie (Great Aunt Tal) who lived in the New York area, perhaps Rochester. The name of his uncle in Rochester remains a mystery as does the name of the sailing vessel on which he travelled in 1956 to New York taking 41 days.

Doctor John Francis REDDY and Mary Francis COWLEY - Spokane (WA) and Medford (OR)


I'm researching the life and times (and family) of Michael Martin Cowley (1841-1915) of Spokane WA. Doctor John Francis Reddy married Mary Francis Reddy (nee Cowley), one of M. M. Cowley's two daughter.

Doctor J.F. Reddy's father was Michael Reddy (Ireland) and his mother was Bridget Calvey who was also of Irish descent her father being J. Calvey (Ireland).

Dr. J. F. Reddy had at least one brother and one sister, Martin J Reddy and Mrs Mamie Delvin (nee Reddy), respectively.

I'm interested in making contact with anyone connected to the Reddy's of Medford Oregan, as they are relations of mine. I am Michael Martin Cowley's great great great grand nephew. In fact my mother is buried in Glendalough Graveyard, Laragh, County Wicklow, Ireland, in the same grave as her great great grand-mother, Eliza Cowley - Michael Martin Cowley's sister.

The Cowley's originated from Rathdrum County Wicklow where their father was Hugh Cowley and their mother Bridget Byrne of Wicklow.

Look Forward to hearing from you

Colm T

1 comment(s), latest 4 years, 1 month ago