Author Topic: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion  (Read 1542 times)

Offline Alonza0

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1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« on: Monday 05 June 17 20:50 BST (UK) »
I've hit a snag in my genealogy work, in that I seem to have stumbled across a relative that was either in two places at once, or I've been completely wrong about a branch of my family tree.

My second great-grandfather, Charles McCahill, was from a townland called Drimalost (formerly Drumnalost) in Co. Donegal. I was very fortunate in that I have his family's information from 1851, because his brother, Peter, submitted a search request for the 1851 census return, in which he named his parents as William and Catherine, and scribbled the names and rough ages for all of his siblings in the margin. According to the National Archives, these census searches were usually carried out by people who wanted to collect a pension in Ireland, as the census records were considered to be a reliable proof of age.

Now I'd taken some of those siblings' names and traced them - I thought reliably - to a town in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, in the United States. The problem began when I realized that, among those McCahills, now McCalls, in Pennsylvania, there was a Peter too.

This Peter has a death certificate that seems to match what I know about my family in some respects, but not in others:
  • Pennsylvanian Peter also had a father named William, but his mother is given as Mary Thomas. (Some of the other McCalls in the same town listed their parents as William McCall and Catherine Thomas).
  • The birthplace of his parents is given as "Drimloost," but his own birthplace is given as "County Mead."
  • His birth year is given as 1852. US censuses seems to suggest that he may have even thought he was younger, as his birth year was typically listed as anywhere from 1854-8.
Now, either I have been wrong about the Pennsylvania connection, or the Peter in Pennsylvania and the Peter who did the census search in Ireland are the same person. But why would Peter McCall have gone back to Ireland and submitted a census search request, when he didn't need to collect an Irish pension, especially if he thought he hadn't been born in 1851? This would have entailed traveling to Ireland in February at age 63, since the Peter McCahill who requested the census search was staying on Castle Street in Donegal Town with a Mr. James Williamson. By all accounts, he never got the return either, as it seems the clerk wrote that no return had been found.

tl;dr What reason would someone have had to do a search of the 1851 Irish census if they weren't collecting an Irish pension, or even living in Ireland?

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Offline aghadowey

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #1 on: Monday 05 June 17 21:50 BST (UK) »
My second great-grandfather, Charles McCahill, was from a townland called Drimalost (formerly Drumnalost) in Co. Donegal. I was very fortunate in that I have his family's information from 1851, because his brother, Peter, submitted a search request for the 1851 census return, in which he named his parents as William and Catherine, and scribbled the names and rough ages for all of his siblings in the margin. According to the National Archives, these census searches were usually carried out by people who wanted to collect a pension in Ireland, as the census records were considered to be a reliable proof of age.

Best to look at the original image to understand the record-
http://censussearchforms.nationalarchives.ie/reels/c19/007246682/007246682_00440.pdf

Peter Cahill made the application in 1915 but it looks like he wasn't found listed in the 1851 census with the family. It was not uncommon for people to apply for the pension saying they were a certain age but not found in the census when it was checked. Spelling variation for townlands are alos not uncommon so it's more a case of different spellings than the name being changed.
At that time pension age was 70 so it looks like Peter said he was born c1845 or before but in reality was born after 1851.

since the Peter McCahill who requested the census search was staying on Castle Street in Donegal Town with a Mr. James Williamson. By all accounts, he never got the return either, as it seems the clerk wrote that no return had been found.

It wasn't uncommon for a person to get their letters care of someone else who could read (clergy, schoolmaster, doctor, etc.) but that doesn't mean Peter was staying with Mr. Williamson. Since Peter wasn't found in the census the form with census extract couldn't be sent to him.

Have you checked local church records to see if there were other McCahills in the same area?
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Offline hallmark

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #2 on: Monday 05 June 17 21:54 BST (UK) »
A search was done, he wasn't found!

He didn't have to be in Ireland to apply and may not have returned, just used that address for correspondence.

http://www.rootschat.com/links/01k7o/ gives those that were in USA and applied using a US address.

Offline Alonza0

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #3 on: Monday 05 June 17 22:03 BST (UK) »
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Have you checked local church records to see if there were other McCahills in the same area?

Not the church records, but I checked the 1911 census. No Peter McCahills, McCahils, or McCalls within 40 years of the right age that I could find. Will look into church records to double check.

Quote
He didn't have to be in Ireland to apply and may not have returned, just used that address for correspondence.

That would answer so many of my questions, though would perhaps beg the questions a) why didn't he list his US address and b) why bother applying if he knew, even if he was found on the census, that he'd be too young?
And actually, come to think of it, my great-great-grandfather was alive and living in Drimalost until 1916. Why use James Williamson and not his own brother?

Could people living outside Ireland still collect an Irish pension even if they weren't living there?

Offline hallmark

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #4 on: Monday 05 June 17 22:05 BST (UK) »
Yes people anywhere could collect pension which is why I posted those American ones!

Offline hallmark

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #5 on: Monday 05 June 17 22:06 BST (UK) »
Why bother?

Many people tried their luck!

Offline Alonza0

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #6 on: Monday 05 June 17 22:50 BST (UK) »
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Many people tried their luck!

True! Peter lived to be 75. If that actually was him, I wonder why he never tried again.

And why on earth did his family apparently think he was from "County Mead?"

Offline hallmark

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 06 June 17 09:17 BST (UK) »
It is POSSIBLE he was born there!

Offline aghadowey

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Re: 1851 Irish Census Search Confusion
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday 06 June 17 09:36 BST (UK) »
True! Peter lived to be 75. If that actually was him, I wonder why he never tried again.
And why on earth did his family apparently think he was from "County Mead?"

Did Peter marry? if so, was his wife from Ireland? Sometimes family got confused with places parents came from in Ireland, especially if there was little contact with relatives back in Ireland.
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