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The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic

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Researcher's Tips

Birth years from census (UK) data
It seems almost universal for people to get a probable birth year from census data by subtracting the age from the census year. Certainly some websites and some census CDs provide this as "helpful" information. For me it isn't helpful and personally I always subtract one more year from the result. All the 19th century censuses except 1841 were taken the first weekend in April, so people were three times more likely to have been born a year earlier. E.g. if a person was 24 in 1851, the accepted guess by subtracting one from the other seems to be 1827 for the birth year. But in point of fact, making of course the big assumption that the age is correct, this person was probably born between April 1826 and the end of March 1827. Born any later and (s)he would have been only 23 at the 1851 census. So for 1851 I subtract the ages from 1850, and similarly for the other censuses. 24 from 1850 gives 1826 which is the true "most probable birth year". If you don't do this you may be looking in the wrong year when you go looking for details in the parish registers. Most baptisms took place before the child was three months old, and usually less than that. For someone who was "24" at the 1851 census, even the baptism may have taken place as early as April or May 1826, so I'd always start looking in 1826 and only go on to 1827 if I couldn't find what I was looking for. In 1841 the census was taken in June, and ages above 15 are usually in a state of confusion reflecting the enumerators' understanding, or more usually lack of understanding, of the guidelines. Ages above 15 were supposed to be rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5, so that "20" stands for anything between 20 and 24 and so on. But many enumerators gave up, ignored the instructions and gave the exact age - and I always offer up silent thanks when they did! But for ages under 15, or where the enumerator gave an age that was not a multiple of five, the birth still has seven chances out of twelve (and therefore still slightly more than 50%) of having taken place in the year before the one you get by merely subtracting the age from the census year. Source: Tony Woodward (GOONS)

The Society Journal Content and published issues

For guests, this page shows you the content of all of our many journal issues.
For members, clicking on the link will open the specific journal
ISSUE 77: January 2019

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • Caherbanna
  • A reconsideration of the surname Dunphy
  • The search for descendants of Arthur James Donoghue
  • Y-DNA report
ISSUE 79: July 2019

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • Naming & nicknaming practices in Glenflesk
  • Were the O’Donoghues of Irishtown Kilkenny Cats?
  • Memorial to William Donoghou Portreeve of Irishtown, Kilkenny 1582
  • Two ‘Vinegar Hills’ in the US and OUR Donahue’s
  • Our Irish adventure
  • Y-DNA Project Report
ISSUE 78: April 2019

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • Leinster origins and DNA
  • My Australian ‘Donoghue’ story
  • In search of Dunaway name origins
ISSUE 76: October 2018

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • An Enquiry into the Poetry of Jeremiah Aloysius Doneghue.
  • Patrick O’Donoghue -  In Search of a Better Life
  • Unravelling O’Donoghue autosomal DNA
  • Name variants and their distribution – an update
ISSUE 75: July 2018

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • Some O’Donoghue officers & NCOs in the American Civil War
  • A Life lived for Others
  • My experiences studying the History of Family and Genealogy at Limerick
  • Why haven’t you had your DNA tested?
  • Y-DNA project report
ISSUE 74: April 2018

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • The Gaelic Irish Chief: Past, Present & Future
  • “Each shall claim his own”
  • O’Donoghue’s Building, Melbourne
  • Donahue’s Greenhouse, Inc. An Account of Richard J Donahue and his Family
ISSUE 73: January 2018

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • The Donohue family from New Zealand and WW1
  • D.J. O’Donoghue (1866-1917) “A noble Irishman, a modest, faithful, upright worker and scholar”
  • Y-DNA Report
  • Who am I?
ISSUE 72: October 2017

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • O’Donoghues in Onondaga: Fighting in the Courthouse
  • Third Battle of Ypres centenary: Remembering the O’Donoghue Ilford brothers killed at Passchendaele
  • Another O’Donoghue in Annascaul
  • “There’s Magic in Ireland” By Margaret C. Donahue (1953)
ISSUE 71: July 2017

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • The Irish Travellers’ recognition
  • The Convict – Michael Donoghue of the Guildford
  • Dead Relatives
  • Hall of Fame: Focus on the Clergy, Altruism, Empathy and Commonsense
  • The Y-DNA Report 
ISSUE 70: April 2017

In this issue
  • A personal message
  • Building San Francisco: Visionaries and Laborers
  • The Night of the Big Wind, January 6/7, 1839
  • Will there be justice at last for the real Lost Boys?
  • Donohue flying high