The religious census of 1766

...diligent rectors listed every townland and every household...

In March and April 1766, Church of Ireland rectors were instructed by the government to compile complete returns of all householders in their respective parishes, showing their religion, as between Church of Ireland (Episcopalian), Roman Catholic (termed ‘Papists’ in the returns) and Presbyterians (or Dissenters), and giving an account of any Roman Catholic clergy active in their area.

Some of the more diligent rectors listed every townland and every household, but many drew up only numerical totals of the population. All the original returns were destroyed in the Public Record Office in 1922, but extensive transcripts, again made by Tenison Groves, survive. Bound volumes of these transcripts can be found on the shelves of the Public Search Room at PRONI.