Wednesday 3 April 2013

Was 57% of Dundee's population in 1847 Irish?

Volunteers at Archive Services are working on a project to index the admission registers of Dundee Royal Infirmary.  Andrew Mackenzie, one of our volunteers, has been working on the register for 1847 and says:

‘The admissions register of Dundee Royal Infirmary from 1847 for the month of February reveals some valuable information about Dundee in this period. The most common illness was fever; out of 166 patients admitted between 1st February 1847 and 28th February 1847 there were 117 cases and of theses 15 patients died.

However, the register tells us more than just the illness of the patient, other information includes address, occupation, sex, age, nationality and county where born. The records therefore shed light on the demographic composition of Dundee in 1847. Out of the 166 patients admitted in February 68 were Scottish, 4 were English and 94 were Irish (57% Irish, 41% Scottish, 2% English).  As might be expected of Dundee in this period 53 patients were weavers and 38 were millworkers. Other common occupations included 17 housewives and 16 labourers.’

By creating indexes for the registers the information will become more accessibly, particularly to family historians. Clearly assumptions cannot be made about Dundee's population as a whole from these figures but the range of information included in the registers, stretching over many years, warrants more sustained academic analysis and we would welcome further research on these archives. 

 For more information about these and the other medical records held by Archive Services visit or contact