Saturday 8 June 2013

Church census for Templepatrick 1831 online

Anybody who has been following my inane drivel on Twitter in the last week will know that I have been enjoying the most extraordinary amount of luck in my Irish research, albeit on the back of the discovery of a tragedy within my family history. I established a week ago that a son of my four times great grandparents had been accused of murdering one of his cousins. It was an appalling tragedy, but from a genealogy point of view has proved to be the gift that keeps on giving - no more than just a few minutes ago when I discovered a church census from 1831 for the townland in which my lot lived was uploaded to the Emerald Ancestors website ( in March of this year.

First, here's the blurb from Emerald Ancestors, from the release a few months back:

25 March 2013

This Church Census Collection lists over 1,000 names from the congregation of the Templepatrick Presbyterian Church in the parish of Templepatrick, County Antrim in 1831.

The records generally list all members within a household including children, and identifies the townland in which the family resides. Most also include the mother’s maiden name. In many instances other children not living at home are recorded, with various notes such as “married ...” or “in America”. Several later annotations indicate where the family has moved to another townland or parish.

Prevalent Presbyterian family surnames recorded in the census include: Agnew, Allen, Bell, Bill, Blair, Boyd, Bradford, Brookmires, Burns, Cochrane (Cochrine), Carslaw, Caskey, Coleman, Cook, Courtney, Cowan, Craig, Douglass, Gibb, Gibson, Goudy, Graham, Green, Greer, Hamill, Harper, Hawthorn, Horner, Hunter, Husten, Hutcheson, Ingram, Johnston, Kennedy, Leech, Magee, Matheson, Mawhiney, May, McCluchen, McComb, McIlroy, McIlwain, McMeehin, McNeil, Mulholland, Neil, Neisbet, Parker, Patten, Pinkerton, Reid, Rice, Shannon, Shaw, Simm, Snoddy, Taylor, Thompson, Wilson.

The residences of these families in and around Templepatrick Parish are recorded as follows: Ballycushin, Ballyhartfield, Ballymartin, Ballynabernies (Ballynabarnish), Ballypallady, Ballyrobert, Carmevey (Carmavy), Carnanee, Claughanduff (Cloghanduff), Cotton Mount, Kilgreel, Kilmakee, Muckamore, Oldstone, Rickamor, Templepatrick, Toberagnew (Toberagnee).

We are currently working on a later census from around 1857 for the same church and hope to have that transcribed in the next six weeks.

Copies of the census extracts are available to members through our Look Up facility and can be found at PRONI under microfilm reference MIC 1P/325A/1.

Now here's the thing. My ancestors, the BILL family, lived in Ballycushin, and I had already uncovered a fair amount on two cousins resident in the townland at the time of the murder in 1874 - the place where the murder was committed. I had created a working tree on the basis of this using various sources, with various individuals suggested as born to particular family groupings, and all of which are finally clicking into place. I've used PRONI's wills and revaluation books, FamilySearch's and's indexes, the Belfast Newsletter on Ancestry and more. That working tree has finally been confirmed by the findings of the 1831 census for Ballycushin - I am still bowled over by such good luck!

The 1831 results name the members of a household, including the wife's maiden name, gives their religion, the house number in the townland. Ages are not given, but I have deduced most of those already from other sources.

When someone tells you that the Irish censuses were all destroyed and the glass is half empty - ignore them. Irish ancestry may be difficult, but with perseverance, you can often find the way through a brick wall. It's a lesson that has been hammered home with my own research in the last week, and I have only just got started...!

(With a HUGE thanks to Emerald Ancestors!)


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My Scottish land and church records ebooks are available at, whilst my next Pharos Scottish course, Scottish Research Online, starts Sep 4th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!


  1. How wonderful for you. That feeling of amazement at what we find is what keeps us going through all those hours staring at a computer screen or microfilm reader isn't it?

  2. Chris, Your readers (and you) might be interested in knowing of a similar church census from Christ Church (Conner Diocese) in Belfast in 1852. There were two parts and sadly only one part remains. Of course the one I wanted with my family was not there. But it contains hundreds of names with the sorts of descriptions you mention. I remember "gone to America", or son by former wife, or grandchildren as their father is in insane asylum and their mother is in service, and other fascinating entries. It is available at PRONI. CR1/13/D/1 I wrote it up in North Irish Roots (Journal of NIFHS), 2009, Vol. 20. No. 1. Hope someone else finds something wonderful in this church census. Elayne

  3. Thanks Elayne, noted for future reference! :)

  4. I grew up in Templepatrick Presbyterian. When I was there, the Clerk of Session was Ingram Bill, his brother Tom was Treasurer and Sunday School Superintendent and their sister Nance was in the Choir. Sounds like you have relatives still there :)

  5. i have traced all my ancestors from templepatrick and donegore henderson beck graham and clark from templepatrick parish and donegore parish so you can get through any brick walls