My Ancestor Was A … Student

In this research tip on occupations Eneclann’s Research Manager, Elizabeth Cuddy, explains how to find your student ancestors if they boarded in college in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, before we take a look at what student records are available for the historic universities and colleges of Ireland.

The College & Boarding School Return Form G is the equivalent of the usual Household Return, Form A.  This differs from the normal household form by recording ‘Rank, Profession or Standing’ (Fellow, Professor, Teacher, Student or Pupil) instead of the relationship to the head of household.

To find a school, search by address, given that you will not know whom the ‘head of household’ is to search for.

  • Go to search page
  • Click on the heading ‘Browse Census’.
  • Select either 1909 or 1911
  • Select the county in which the college you wish to examine was situated
  • Select the DED [District Electoral Division] (you can click on each to see the streets/townlands they contain)
  • Select your street/townland
  • You need to view Form B B1 (this lists ALL heads of household on this street/townland and whether they were occupying a private dwelling, college, etc.).  To get to this click ‘View Occupants’ on any of the individual properties listed.  Under the transcript will be links to Form B1 (sometimes this covers a number of pages)
  • Search Form B1 until you find ‘college’ instead of the usual ‘private dwelling’, ‘public house; etc and note the associated head of household
  • Now search the census returns in the usual manner for this head of household using the address and identified DED.  This will bring you to Form G, the college return. Alternatively, just hit ‘Back’ and select ‘View Occupants’ for the correct household

To use Trinity College, Dublin as an example of this:

  • On the search page click on the heading ‘Browse Census’.
  • Next select either 1901 or 1911 (in this instance ‘1911’)
  • Next select your county (in this instance ‘Dublin’)
  • Next select the DED [District Electoral Division] (in this instance ‘Trinity Ward’)
  • Select your street/townland (in this instance, ‘Trinity College’ you will see that the college has been recorded as a ‘street’.  As the college is not recorded as a property on a particular street i.e. College Green, Form B1 does not need to be consulted)
  • Click ‘View Occupants’ to see a transcript or ‘Original Census Form’ to view the original return (this is page 1 only)

Please note

  • there may be additional pages to Form G (Page 1, 2, 3, etc) i.e. the students’ names may be spread over a number of pages
  • you might not find your ancestor as a student in a college unless they boarded there
  • some schools use the usual Form A Household return rather than Form G

If you want to know more about your ancestors’ student years then there are student records available for the Irish universities which you can try to find them in:

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin (University of Dublin) was Ireland’s first university and its registers from 1637 to 1846 are published in Alumni Dublinenses, a register of the students, graduates, professors and provosts of Trinity College. This publication includes over 300 names from 1593-1637 where there are no surviving registers.  Information provided includes the full name, date of entry to the college, age at entry, father’s name and address, degree received and date of graduation. For students who studied at Trinity after 1846 you will need to contact Trinity directly or Eneclann can do this research for you.

Queen’s Colleges

(Queen’s University Belfast, University College Cork, NUI Galway)  The Queen’s Colleges of Ireland were established by the Queen’s Colleges (Ireland) Act 1845, which allowed for the creation of universities to cater for all religious denominations. Under this act the Queen’s Colleges of Belfast, Cork and Galway were formally incorporated in 1845 and opened their doors to students in October 1849.  In 1880 the Queen’s College system was replaced by the Royal University of Ireland and in 1908 the University split into what are now known as Queen’s University Belfast, University College Cork and National University of Ireland Galway.

Eneclann’s downloadable publication, Queens Colleges Ireland, is a list of the names, religion and department of students who entered the colleges either through the matriculation exam or by other means, over the first ten years of the colleges.

The records for most graduates of the Royal University of Ireland (1880 – 1908) are detailed in the Calendars which can be accessed at the National Library of Ireland. Each university holds student records also: Queen’s University Belfast; University College Cork and National University of Ireland, Galway

The Catholic University of Ireland (University College Dublin)

University College Dublin has its origins in the Catholic University of Ireland, founded in 1854, alongside other predecessor colleges, joining the National University of Ireland in 1908.

UCD Archives have predecessor college student records, and from 1908 until 1960 they have such student records as lists of students as included in the annually published calendar.


National College of Art and Design

The student records for the National College of Art and Design are available online for free.

These registers cover the period 1877-1986.  The Eneclann team digitised and indexed these records for NCAD, along with many of the other records available on NIVAL.

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have registers of students from the college since 1784, but their archives are closed until further notice for restructuring.

Overseas Records

Irish people may also have received a university education overseas; Protestants were likely to be educated in Oxford, Cambridge and the Scottish Universities while Roman Catholics were more likely to go to universities in countries such as France and Spain.

Professional Records

Depending on what your ancestor did for a living, it is also possible to find out more about their education from their professional records. For instance, the King’s Inn Admission system required individuals to give details of their education, and there are alumni lists for seminaries (for example: St. Patrick’s Carlow; St. Patricks, Maynooth; All Hallows).  The Church of Ireland succession lists also include biographical information about Church of Ireland priests.

Let us know how you get on, and what your ancestors did for a living on our Facebook page wall!


This entry was posted in Research Tips.