Additions To The 1911 Irish Census

By Ann Rabinowitz

The National Archives of Ireland had previously made Dublin entries available for the April 2, 1911 Irish Census.  They have now added three new counties to their database.  These counties, which are not generally familiar to most Jewish researchers, are to be found geographically as follows:  
  • Counties Antrim, Northern Ireland, has Belfast as its main town. 
  • County Down, Northern Ireland, contains parts of Belfast and several other small places.
  • County Kerry, Republic of Ireland or Southern Ireland, has such well-known towns as Killarney, Listowel and Tralee. 
Given these locations, one might wonder how many Jews might actually be
living in these places and why researchers who don’t know of any Irish relatives should look in this database.  Besides the fact that many Jews passed through Ireland on their way to somewhere else, there are instances where branches of families stayed in Ireland or some even moved back and forth between Ireland and England for better economic opportunities.  In addition, the ethnic strands of Irish Jewry cover such diverse communities as Sephardic, German, Polish and mainly Lithuania Jews, particularly from Veksniai and Akmene.

The Census sheets contain the following data on each individual:
  • Christian Name
  • Surname
  • Relation to Head of Family
  • Religious Profession
  • Education
  • Age (last Birthday) and Sex
  • Rank, Profession, or Occupation
  • Particulars as to Marriage (marital status, years of marriage, children born alive and still living)
  • Where Born
  • Irish Language
  • If Deaf and Dumb; Dumb Only; Blind; Imbecile or Idiot; or Lunatic
An example of the type of data you will find in the three new counties can be determined, for instance, by searching for the family surname of COHEN.  The result is that you will locate 65 entries listed in Antrim, 3 in Down, and none in Kerry.  A proportion of these COHEN families are noted as non-Jews such as one from County Down who previously lived in Dublin and were indicated as Church of England adherents. 

What follows are several references culled from the County Antrim entries which will provide an idea of what researchers will find:
  • Samuel and Florence CLEIN and their daughter Annie are listed as Jews in Belfast.  Samuel was a furniture dealer born in Russia as was his wife, whilst his daughter was born in Belfast City.
  • Sarah LEVITAS was listed as Jewish and born in Zagare, Lithuania.  The entry stated that she was married, but she was listed as the head of household and there is no mention of her husband.  Her children, Rebecca and Benjamin, were born in Bangor, Wales, and her boarder, Samuel Corb, was born in Schudi (sic), Lithuania.
  • Isaac LEVITAS and his wife were both born in Russia.  One of their children was born in England and the other in Belfast.
  • Frank WINE, was a jeweler, born in Russia.  His wife Julia Nathan Wine, was born in Manchester, and their two children, were born in Belfast.  They even had a visitor, a Mark SUGDEN, a wallpaper merchant, who was from Manchester.
  • Samuel SAMUELS, was formerly DMITROVSKI and born in Kamentetz Litovsk (sic), Poland.  He arrived in Belfast on August 15, 1910, and was just beginning his stay there when he was captured in the 1911 Census.  He later became a wealthy draper.
  • The WIGODER family was well-known in Dublin, but they also had a branch in Belfast.  Meyer and Hannah WIGODER lived there with their three grown children, Rebecca, Rachel and Israel as well as their boarder, Harry WINER, all of whom were born in Russia.
One of the most notable individuals of Belfast’s Jewry, Sir Otto JAFFE, was not listed in the Census.  His family originally came from Schwerin, Germany, and he served as Mayor of Belfast.  He was also the largest exporter of Irish linen in the world.  It was known that he left Belfast in 1916 for London, but he should have been in Belfast in 1911.  Of further interest, in regard to the Jaffe family is Arthur and Marie JAFFE.  Arthur, a barrister, and his wife, refused to state their religion on the Census.  This was the first time I had seen this noted.  Arthur may have been the son of Sir Otto Jaffe.

Another Belfast Jew who is missing from the Census was Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi HERZOG, who first became Rabbi of Belfast in 1916 and therefore was not there in 1911 to be counted.  He was the father of the sixth President of Israel, Chaim HERZOG, who was born in Belfast in 1918.


The ability to search by family name and county enables the researcher to locate entries quickly.  In addition, it is possible to not only search by family name and county, but by place as well.  If you know the town and the street address, you can easily search by those criteria alone.

The mobility of the members of the Jewish community in these counties is aptly documented in this Census.  Where they and their children are listed as each being born in a different place, it is possible to track the settlement patterns of the family.  This ability to know the birthplace also enables the researcher to find birth records in places that may not have been known previously.

One thing lacking in the Census is that you cannot search by either ethnic origin or religious persuasion.  Having access to entries with these criteria would have made researching the Jewish community a much easier task.  The lack of this access, for instance, put a damper on my finding any Jews in County Kerry as I tried many Jewish names and did not find any suitable entries.

As the Archives inputs various new counties to their database in the future, many new discoveries will be made for family researchers.  So stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Guys,

    Just to let you know that the National Archive have completed all 32 counties of Ireland now.

    Kind regards,



Comments are welcome. Please post responsibly.