Frequently Asked Questions?

Where, When, Why, What and How…?

Clare Horgan, Muintir Genealogy

Why can ages be out by years from the 1901 census to the next in 1911?

There are a few reasons why questions on ages may arise as they differ so much from one census to another.  Example: A individual is recorded as being sixty years of age in 1901 and then in 1911 they are seventy three years, ten years later.


One reason is that people in the past did not know or keep track of the age.  Birthdays were not celebrated as much back then as they are now, it is a funny thought in modern times that this was the case.  They would sometimes guess the approximate age of themselves or other family members and record so.  A birth date would very often be documented out by a couple of years from census to census.  An age may be incorrect in the 1901 census and then again in the 1911 census from the age you may find in birth for civil and church records.  Some ages may be out -/+ 5 years and even on the rare occasion -/+ 10 years.


Old Age Pensions Act of 1908

Another reason, especially in the 1911 census, is that the British Government, the State Government of the time, began to introduced the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908 in 1909. This was a non-contributory pension for eligible people aged 70 and over.  People gave, in the following years their age as seventy plus years in applications to get the pension.  If someone wanted to apply before they were seventy, they would have to give false information of their age.  This age was checked against the 1841 and 1851 census to confirm their age was correct.  If the application was successful, as the applicant could contest that ages from those censuses may be also incorrect.  The individual would need to keep up the presence in the following censuses, as these were State records, and could be checked again by officials to confirm age and also especially for after the 1911 census.

Further Reading on this can be found on…

People are funny

Finally other reason for people being recorded with the wrong age in 1901 and in 1911 was simple vanity.  They did not wish for people to know their true age, both being younger or older was given to all age of individuals.


Why is there no record of female occupation in some cases?

It is stated on under Rank, Profession and Occupation, that ‘No entry should be made in the case of wives, daughters and other female relatives solely engaged in domestic duties at home.

Furthermore, under Education it reads ‘State here whether he or she can “Read and Write” can “Read” only, or “cannot read”.  So it would not state whether they could write, but as they cannot read they most likely can write either.


Why are the additional 3 new columns in 1911 not filled out in some cases?

It is stated under Particulars as to Marriage (columns 10-12) on Form A, that “State for each Married Women entered on this Schedule the number of: -“

It did not mention widows, married men or widowers able to record their years married or number of children born and alive.

In many cases it was take so literally that only women married on the night of the 1911 census only filled out those columns. Widows and widowers with children tended not to enter this information.

Also on the example given on the front of Form B, it does fill the details out for the above.


Were the houses actually numbered?

Yes and No! In the cities and towns, yes the houses were likely numbered as they are today, but not necessarily the same number . But in the country and small villages this is very unlikely. They would have been numbered in the order the census were given out and taken up, depending on which ended of the road the started.  This could change from census to census as we can see in some cases between the 1901 and 1911 censuses. Example.  A house on a country road may be number 3 out of 10 houses on that road in 1901 and be number 9 out of 12 houses in the 1911 census.  The same mix up could happen in the cities and towns too.  It all depended on if the houses were numbered.


What does each of the forms mean?

Household Returns (Form A)

This form states the household members in the family, their visitors, borders, servants and etc., who slept in the house on the night of the census.

Additional Pages (Form A)

This form gave the instructions on how to correctly fill up Form A of the census. It gave general Instructions about the census information given and what it was used for.  It gave an example on the pattern on filling out Form A and the instructions and description of more distinct occupations and the order they should come in.  It is mostly found in the 1911 but not for all families.

Enumerator’s abstract (Form N)

This form describes in detail the families’ status regarding dwelling house, families, persons and religious profession.

House and Building Return (Form B1)

The form describes in detail the houses and the families from the number of houses on the property to the status of the building, number of out-houses, habitation and particulars or inhabited houses, number and description of walls, roof, rooms, windows and class of house. It also in includes the landholder of the house and the day the census was collected.

Out-Offices and Farm-Steadings Return (Form B2)

This form describes in detail the type of out buildings on the property

What measurement is the land in Griffith’s valuation?

Area: statute acre(a), rood(r) and perch(p)

*A statute acre(a) contained 4840 square yards or 4 roods

A Rood(r) was 1,210 square yards or 40 perches.

A perch(p) was 30¼ square yards or 272¼ sq feet(25.289 sq meters)

Statute acre [0.40 hectare] [eg. a good-sized football pitch – but note that a Customary (or Saxon) acre was different, and that Scottish and Irish acres were different again]


What is the value of of the old English money?

Pounds(£), shillings(s) and pence(d)

1 old English pound sterling(£) = 4 crowns = 20 shillings

1 crown = 5 shillings

1 shilling (s) = 12 pence/pennies

1 penny (d) = 4 farthings [d = denarius, a Roman coin, translated to ‘penny’ in the Bible]


More to Follow!


This page was added on 20/02/2016.

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