Additional divisions of Land of interest to Family History Research
Quicklinks :  Civil  Ecclesiastical  Population Centres 
Civil Divisions of Land
Poor Law Union   Poor Law Unions (P.L.U.) were established in 1838 by the Poor Law Relief Act, which set up districts that were to be responsible for paupers in that area. These were generally based in larger market towns, and often covered parts of more than one county.
Over time a few Poor Law Unions were abolished and the areas incorporated into adjacent Unions. There were about 162 Poor Law Unions.

Superintendent Registrars District   Superintendent Registrars Districts are the primary district for civil registrations, and are often referred to as 'Registration Districts', e.g. on civil BMD Index and with the G.R.O. The boundaries of these generally corresponded with the associated Poor Law Union, and had the same name. There were about 162 Superintendent Registrars Districts.

The Superintendent Registrars received registration details from the various sub districts and passed these on to the G.R.O in the form of quartery returns, from which the National BMD records and Index were created.

Dispensary District   Dispensary Districts were also a Civil Registration area and a subdivision of the Superintendent Registrars District. Based in each of these was a dispensary a type of doctors office, where among other functions the registrar looked after the recording of Births, Marriages and Deaths. These registrars were usually a local physician. There were roughly 830 Dispensary Districts.

District Electoral Division   There were just over 3,500 District Electoral Division (D.E.D.), which were are a subdivison of the Dispensary Districts and were used for as both Electoral Boundaries and unit of area for Census Enumeration.

Ward   Wards were used as electoral divisions within the larger cities, e.g. Dublin, Belfast and Cork.

Ecclesiastical Divisions of Land
Diocese   The Diocese is the largest Ecclesiastical Divisions of Land and based on historic church areas, due to this the structure and layout is often similar for both Catholic and Church of Ireland Dioceses.

Parish   The Church of Ireland parish generally coincides with the corresponding civil parish, and has the same name, although in several cases the actual parishes covered more than one civil parish and these were sometimes refered to as Unions.

The Catholic Parishes were originally also based on pre-reformation areas and therefore civil parishes, but often included more than one civil parish, or parts of. The names of the parishes can however vary - sometimes being the name of the primary civil parish, or a combination of the names of the civil parishes included, sometimes with variations in spelling. In other cases the Catholic Parish was named after the town where a parish church was located.

Population Centres
City   The largest population centre in Ireland is the City, and there were 8 cities In Ireland. The city status sometimes changed, so the actual number varied at various times in 18th and 19th Century. These cities are Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, Galway, Derry/Londonderry and Armagh. Cities extend over a number of civil parishes, and sometimes into more than one county - e.g. Belfast (Antrim/Down) and Waterford (Waterford/Kilkenny).

Town   Smaller than cities is the town, and the number of these changed over time, as populations changed, or towns were abandoned due to emmigration or depletion of a resource e.g. mine or quarry. From statistics extracted from the 1871 census it was established that there were nearly 980 towns at that time with population of at least 120 persons.

Towns are contained within townlands, sometimes extending into more than one, and often having part in a townland of the same name.

Village   A village is a smaller population centre than a town and often no more than a crossroads or junction and a few houses.
Villages are contained within townlands, sometimes within one of the same name.