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Census 1901 & 1911

Burgess Family, James's St., Dublin.

Census returns for 1901 and 1911 are expected to be available online for Dublin next year and for the country as a whole in three years time. Meanwhile, microfilm versions of those for the Dublin City area are available in the Public Library in  Pearse St., in Dublin (and for the rest of the country in the National Archive).

On a recent visit there, I decided to look up the returns for my great-grandfather's family in James's St.

The results of my perusal of the census returns, along with some commentary, are set out below. I have added some material at the end from sources other than the census to give a bit of depth to the read.

Points supported by the tables below

The following points, arising from the census data reproduced in the tables below, interested me on a first quick reading:
  • The ages given are not very reliable. In the 10 years between the two censuses, family members aged at drastically different rates: Christopher (15), Teresa and Elizabeth (9-10), Christine (8), Catherine (6) and Margaret (2).
  • The ages given in the 1901 census suggest that Sarah had a child every two years between the age of 18 and 36. This assumes that all her children were alive and living in the house in 1901.
  • Two daughters are listed as housekeepers in 1911. This would suggest they were keeping house elsewhere as an occupation. The instructions for the 1911 census clearly state that no entry is to be made in relation to domestic duties at home. I have not checked the instructions for the 1901 census but Christopher's wife, who was presumably keeping house at home, as well as raising a family, is listed in this as having "no occupation".
  • Some of the children are down as scholars at a relatively advanced age for its day, however the instructions for 1911 apply this category to those attending school or receiving instruction at home. On the other hand it could have been used as an alternative term for spinster.

Additional points not reproduced in the tables below

Census data not reproduced in the tables below can be summarised as follows:
  • Christopher Burgess, Head of the Family, came from County Wicklow, and was widowed between the two censuses.
  • Sarah, his wife, came from Queen's County (now Laois)
  • All the family were Roman Catholic
  • All could read and write
  • All the children were single while residing in the house
  • All the children were born in Dublin city.
  • There was no competence in the Irish language in the family
  • the house (No. 43 in 1901)was listed as a 1st class house, consisting of
    • brick walls
    • slate roof
    • 6 rooms [occupied by 12 people]
    • 7 windows in front
    [However, the 1901 census returns do not appear reliable on a number of fronts and may need to be taken with a grain of salt.]
  • the house (No. 45 in 1911)was listed as a 1st class house, consisting of
    • brick walls
    • slate roof
    • 8 rooms [occupied by 6 people)
    • 8 windows in front
  • The authorities pointed out that the Enumerators were not allowed to seek any information other than that required to complete the forms, and they guaranteed that the Returns would not be "used for the gratification of curiosity" on pain of sanction under the Official Secrets Act, 1889.

Tables - selected data

Census 1901 - Burgess Family - 43 James's St., Dublin.

Christian Name Surname Relation to Head of Family Age Rank, Profession or Occupation
Christopher Burgess Head of Family 50 Bootmaker
Sarah Burgess Wife of [illegible] 40 no occupation
Margaret Burgess Daughter 28 Machinist
Mary Burgess Do 26 Do
Sarah Burgess Do 24 Book keeper
John Burgess Son 22 Bootmaker
Catherine Burgess Daughter 20 Scholar
Bridget Burgess do 18 Shop Assistant
Christopher Burgess Son 17 Time keeper
Elizabeth Burgess Daughter 15 Scholar
Teresa Burgess Do 12 Do
Christine Burgess Do 10 Do

Census 1911 - Burgess Family - 45 James's St., Dublin.

Christian Name Surname Relation to Head of Family Age Rank, Profession or Occupation
Christopher Burgess Head of Family 65 Boot Manufacturer
Margaret Burgess Daughter 30 Housekeeper
Catherine Burgess Daughter 26 Housekeeper
Elizabeth Burgess Daughter 24 Shop Assistant
Teresa Burgess Daughter 22 Do
Christine Burgess Daughter 18 Scholar

Some additional extracensory points:

  • Christopher Burgess, my great-grandfather, came to Dublin with his parents before 1866 and lived with them in Thomas St.. After his marriage in 1866 he spent 7 years as a shoemaker in Wood quay. He first came to James's St. in 1873 to No. 122, beside St. James's Protestant Church. He is recorded as being in business there until 1884. In 1885 the building is recorded as being "in ruins" and he moved his premises to No. 118 and lived in 19 Irwin St. (tenement) for the next 2 years. He then moved (family and shop?) to 43 James's St. (tenement) for the following 3 years (1887-89) after which he moved into the vacant Nos. 45-6, where he stayed for 7 years, till 1897. He then moved nextdoor to Nos. 43-4, which is where he was enumerated in the 1901 census. In 1905 he moved (back) to No. 45, the single shop in the photo above, which is where he was enumerated in the 1911 census. He stayed there until he quit the job in 1919. He died in 1928.
  • Sarah junior, was my granny, on my mother's side. She was a book keeper. She married Patrick Mortimer in 1901. They subsequently lived in a variety of locations both north and southside, and also in Birr, Co. Offaly. He died, in tragic circumstances in 1918. In 1922 she gave 48 James's St. as her address, and made a number of subsequent moves which I am attempting to trace. She came to Orwell Gardens, Rathgar, in 1936 when that estate was being built. We lived there with her for a while (1950-54). She subsequently came to live with us in Ballybrack until her death in 1958.
  • Elizabeth, Lil, who had been a shop assistant, married Andy Duffy and they lived at 37 Arran Quay. Andy originally worked for Redmond's pawnbrokers in South Great George's St., and opened his own pawnbroking business at 96 Lr. Gardiner St., around 1920. He died in 1923. Lil subsequently had a lease on the Gem in Howth which she sublet to my parents (1942-49) and that is where I was born into in 1944.
  • Teresa, Tess, married Paddy Medlar and their daughter Mai (Ledwidge) as well as being a cousin, was a close friend of my mother.
  • Christine, Chris, never married and eventually came to live in a caravan close to my parents' house in Ballybrack.
  • Julia is not recorded in either census.


These are some photos from my late mother's collection.
They cover all the family recorded in the census, with the exception of Margaret and the addition of Julia.

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Check out the House as it is today

View a draft family tree.
This is a very preliminary draft. It is on a single page to facilitate scrolling. You can zoom in to check entries. You will need adobe reader as it is a pdf document. The reader can be downloaded (free) from
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