New Search Capabilities for 1911 Irish Census

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

Recently, it was brought to my attention by reader David Lenten, an avid Irish genealogist, that the 1911 Irish Census had been updated with new search capabilities.  This was indeed exciting news and it was followed by a flurry of e-mails from Stuart Rosenblatt, another reader and Irish genealogist, regarding this selfsame topic.  He had found four hundred additional Irish Jews which he could add to his database at the Irish Jewish Genealogical Society & Family History Centre in Dublin, due to the improvements to the search engine.

The ability to search by the following areas of data is what makes the Census much more user friendly:
  • Religion
  • Occupation
  • Relationship to Head of Family
  • Literacy Status
  • County or Country of Origin
  • Irish Language Proficiency
  • Specified Illnesses
  • Child Survival Information
My pet peeve with the Census, up to now, had been that one couldn’t search by religion.  That deficit has now been corrected and if one plugs in the word “JEW”, up pops all the Jewish entries.  In addition, I was advised by David Lenten that all variant terms for Jew (such as Hebrew) were now subsumed under the term Jew.  Given this, there are 4,936 Jews in Ireland in 1911.  The researcher can now check by town or county as to whether there are any Jews who lived there which is quite helpful.  Of the counties enumerated, the following are the number of Jews in each as specified by utilizing this type of search criteria:
  • Antrim , 1,128       
  • Armagh, 75
  • Carlow, 6             
  • Cavan, 9
  • Clare, 0
  • Cork, 401
  • Donegal, 0
  • Down, 54
  • Dublin, 2,899
  • Fermanagh, 0
  • Galway, 3
  • Kerry, 26
  • Kildare, 16
  • Kilkenny, 12
  • King’s Co., 8
  • Leitrim, 1
  • Limerick, 123
  • Londonderry, 26
  • Longford, 1
  • Louth, 30
  • Mayo, 3
  • Meath, 1
  • Monghan, 0
  • Queen’s Co., 8
  • Roscommon, 0
  • Sligo, 6
  • Tipperary, 5
  • Tyrone, 4
  • Waterford, 62
  • Westmeath, 4
  • Wexford, 11
  • Wicklow, 22
A number of the counties can be seen as having no Jews or only one.  In the case of County Leitrim, the only Jew was Joseph Fine, from Russia, an antique dealer, who was married and a boarder in Carrick-on-Shannon.  It is possible, that he was traveling about and landed up in Carrick-on-Shannon on Census day whilst his family is listed elsewhere such as in Dublin.  Another county, County Meath, had a single Jew.  His name was Louis Khan, a pedlar, single, who boarded in the town of Kells.

It is quite possible that there were additional Jews in Ireland, but one has to take into consideration that some individuals might not have entered their religion on the Census form or given the correct one.  An example of this is Arthur and Marie Jaffe in Belfast, County Antrim, who were the only individuals who refused to provide the information on religion as noted on the Census form.  

In other situations, Jews may have married out, converted or their children did.  An example of this is in County Wexford which lists eleven Jews, one of which was the Begleman family.  When one looks at the Census form for the Begleman family, who lived in Ballygarrett, County Wexford, it is actually made up of two small children, Mary, age 8, born in Portsmouth, England, and Molly, age 6, born in Dublin.  They are lodged with their aunt Ada Martin, age 43, born in Russia, who belonged to the Church of Ireland, along with her husband, George Martin, an army pensioner, whom she married in Dublin in 1889, and his brother John Martin.  It appears initially that the children might have been orphans.  Apparently, their aunt, who married out and converted, took them in.  Given the circumstances, it is likely that the two children were brought up in the Church of Ireland. 

Another possibility is that they are the children of Gabriel and Ruth Begleman who lived in Dublin in 1911.  The couple had ten living children, only eight of whom were listed in the 1911 Census.  Perhaps Mary and Molly Begleman were the two children who are not listed in the Census with their parents.  They could have been visiting their aunt or she was caring for them as she had no children of her own and their own mother was overwhelmed with ten children.  The Begleman family had lived in Aldershot, England in 1901, which would fit in with Mary Begleman being born in England around that time.  It would be interesting to determine, what indeed, was the status of the two children and their parents.

Another entry which was of interest, for a different reason, was the family of Rev. Solomon King.  The family lived at 55 Manor Street in Waterford, County Waterford, Ireland.  King’s occupation was given as Reverend of the Jewish Congregation.  There are sixty-two Jews listed in County Waterford in the Census and these are probably part of the Reverend’s flock.

The Reverend and his wife Eva were born in Russia, and their daughter Esther, age 4, was born in Switzerland, the only one in the Census to be noted as such.  The daughter was listed as being dumb and this designation is part of the new capability for searching the census.  One can learn of family physical/mental issues as the Census now allows searches on “Specified Illnesses” which encompass:  Blind, Deaf, Deaf and Dumb, Dumb, Idiot, Imbecile, Lunatic, and Other.  The Other designation usually means that someone put a “No” or a line in that column. 

The Census lists three other Jewish children as being dumb (Sarah Enlander, Esther King and Mary Reubin); five who are listed as deaf and dumb (Henry Abrahams, Emmanuel Percival Goodman, Edward Mirrelson, and two brothers in the same family, David and Max Purcell); one person who was blind (Anna Browdy; and one who was an imbecile (Joseph Rosefield).  It is possible that many individuals were not listed in any of these categories by their families or they were listed in hospitals where the designation was not filled in.

Another aspect of searching for Jews in the Census is that when the first entry in the family contains the word “Jew” and the following family members contain the word “do” or “ditto” these subsequent entries may not have been entered as Jewish in most cases.  An example is that of the Robinson family in Waterford, County Waterford, which was comprised of Maurice S. Robinson, born in England, his wife Mayme, born in Baltimore, Maryland, and son Myer J., who was born in Waterford. 

What I noticed was that Maurice was listed as Hebrew and his wife and child were listed as “do” or “ditto” and therefore only Maurice came up when “Jew” was listed as religion in the search engine.  This type of incident may have skewed the numbers so that there are actually more Jews who existed in the community. 

One can find a number of the listings which are for Jewish soldiers who are stationed in Ireland with the Royal Irish Constabulary.  Such an example is for F. Spickes, a Private, who was stationed in Abbeycartron, County Longford.  He was from Durham, England, and his regular occupation was that of a baker.

There are many interesting occupations listed and one of these is for two brothers who lived in Naas, County Kildare.  They were Fred and Riginald Dehaas, who were photographers and they originated in England.  They are an example of how names may be hard to find when they are misspelled or inaccurately transcribed.  The name, in this case, was transcribed by the Census as De Chas.  When one looks at the Census form itself, it is Dehaas and it may actually have been De Haas.

Another example of problems with names is that there is no Daitch-Mokotoff tool so that the researcher has to try all possible spellings to find a relative.  Another problem is that of Unknown Jews.  These are Jews whose name was not specified on the Census form.  One was the male who boarded at #39 in Mullagh, County Cavan.  He was 30 years of age, a pedlar, from Russia, but his name was not given. 

Other examples of Unknown Jews are those who’s first initial of both their first and last name are the only things given.  In regard to the letter “C”, for instance, there are ten Jews listed.  One of these is a resident of the Richmond Male Asylum in Dublin (now known as St. Brendan’s Hospital).  A further one was at Portrane Demesne in Dublin which was another mental hospital, and two others were patients at Meath Hospital and  Steeven’s Lane Hospital, both in Dublin.  Other such listings are for children who were being treated for infectious diseases in hospitals.

Further, it is now possible to locate individuals by country of origin such as Russia where 1,972 individuals are listed.  However, one cannot search by Lithuania or Poland which were the major places where Irish Jews originated.  It is understood that they were subsumed under the Russia listings.  There were, however, found to be six Jews from Romania listed.

In terms of languages, one can search by Other (as opposed to English or Irish or English and Irish).  There are 39,123 individuals who pop up under Other and spoke another language.  When I tested why there were Irish-sounding names such as Swan who did not speak English or Irish, I found that some mistakes had been made.  The actual Census form had that they spoke both England and Irish not Other.  So, it appears, that when “do” or “ditto” are used, they have been entered as Other.  It is important to check the form in order to determine if the search is correct.

As a final look at the new capabilities of the Census, I am proud to announce that Annie Levin, age 45, wife of Elias Ber Levin, of 18 Colooney Street, Limerick, was the Jewish mother who had the most living children – fourteen!!!  She also had the most children born – seventeen!!!!  The runner-up was Bertha Bremson, age 43, wife of David Bremson, of 1 Monerea Terrace, Cork, with a whopping thirteen children; and the third place was Leah Clein, age 40, wife of Lawrence S. Clein, of 45 Clanbrassil Street, Dublin, with twelve children.  There was also Becca Miller, age 72, wife of Gersum Miller, of 7 Martin Street, Dublin, who had sixteen children of whom only nine survived.  This was a very sad statistic, but not unexpected in those times.

Last, but not least, the Irish Jew who had been married for the most years was widower Louis Shein, age 82, of 10 Walworth Road, Dublin, whose marriage to his late wife lasted for fifty-eight years.  The couple who were married the longest were Ebber Mirrelson, age 69, and his wife Hanna, age 65, who were married for fifty-five years.  Yes, it appears that she was married at the age of 10, if the information was input correctly!!!!

On that note, I will end this discussion of the Irish Census with a thought regarding an event which is eagerly awaited by all researchers of Irish Jews, the imminent arrival of the on-line presence of the 1901 Irish Census.  This is expected to occur sometime in the next few months, so stay tuned to the Blog for the latest on its scheduled appearance.

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