Tracing Your Family History

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Slides accompanying a lecture given by Seán Gannon at Limerick City Library on Tuesday 20th October 2009

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  • run through the main sources for Irish genealogy
    give you an idea of what’s out there, where you can find it and how to use it
    Listed essentially in order of importance in terms of the amount and variety of information they contain
    Census returns, most information, best place to start; then civil records (state records of b/d/m) which come next in terms of usefulness
    Then church records; ecclesiastical records of bap/mar/bur; land records which, due to historical c’stance, have assumed an unnatural importance for Irish genealogists
    finally a quick run through other helpful sources such as emigration records, electoral registers, trades’ directories, military records
    note of caution; because of nature of subject, almost everything I saw will be subject to caveats and ifs, buts and howevers; discuss some of these as they arise
  • BUT the problem for Irish family historians is that the Irish census returns for the nineteenth century have almost entirely been lost.
    widely-held belief that these were destroyed during Civil War. But this is only partially accurate.
    1821-1851 records were lost in June 1922 when forces of Michael Collins’ Provisional Government shelled the Four Courts in order to dislodge anti-Treaty irregulars and the PRO which was housed in the building was destroyed
    Conflicting stories as to what happened but seems that PRO strong room used as a munitions store, suffered a direct hit and exploded. Documents found on Howth Hill 10 miles away
  • But returns for 1861-1871 had already long been destroyed by government order after the extraction of statistical data for reasons still unclear.
    In UK, information from original returns copied into ledgers and originals destroyed. Thought that London civil servant thought the same had been done here and therefore ordered the household returns destroyed.
    1881-1891 – pulped for paper during shortages during the First World War (1918)
  • originals that somehow survived. For example, 1821, parts of East Galway and Navan, Co. Meath; 1841 Killeshandra; 1851 13 parishes in Antrim. Available in NA “Pre-1901 Census Material” catalogue
    copied extracts of returns made by researchers in PRO before June 1922. 1821, 15 Cavan parishes, Aglish, Co. Waterford and Kilkenny; 1841 Aglish, Co. Waterford and Kilkenny. 1851 North-East Cork “Union of Kilworth”. Most available in Irish genealogical journals like Irish Genealogist and Irish Ancestor in LCL
    LIMERICK: 1821 and 1851 Kilfinane area (NMAQ Vol. 17); 1831 census Templebredin (NMAQ Vol. 17)
    Census Search Forms. For 2 shillings local government boards searched 1841-1851 returns for individuals. Green Forms in which individual filled in details as they knew them for 1841 and result then added in by officials (eg. Child’s name and age). All held at NA “Census Search Forms” catalogue; arranged according to county, parish, street and then name so have to know where your family lived. Form 37 submitted by local authorities on behalf of a number of applicants. If search was successful a certified copy of the return was issued. 85,000 in 1911 alone. All gathered and sent to NA in 1928
  • So only complete Irish census returns available to researchers are those for 1901 and 1911
    still stored locally in 1922 and so escaped the conflagration
    Because conducted in absence of privacy provisions so were released as public records in 1961 by Charlie Haughey who was parl sec to Minister for Justice at the time
    An effort to compensate Irish family historians for losses of 1922
  • First show 1911 census return
    Back of a FORM A which is the actual household return
    On right are instructions for filling it in; on left details of the address from county at top, to poor law union, parish, street, house number and signature of head of family
    This one filled out by Rabbi Elias Bere Levin, head of Limerick Jewish community, 18a Colooney Street
  • This is other side of same sheet
    Contains census information itself
    Christian name and surname; relationship to head of family; religion; education, basically literacy; ages;
    profession/occupation; marital status; duration of marriage, children born alive; children still living;
    place of birth; Irish;
    details of any disabilities - deaf, dumb blind, imbecile, idiot, lunatic
  • Another example to show what further information can be deduced from census returns
    Build a picture of Murphy family; lost two children – how to find?
    Locate 1901 census return and see f them alive; Look for large gaps in ages to pinpoint span in which might locate a death cert
    father-in-law living there so know mother’s maiden name
    Ages give a rough date of birth so know where to look for birth cert
    Approximate date of marriage for marriage cert
  • Lists number of walls, windows, rooms and uses these to categorise house as 1st, 2nd or 3rd class
    Also see number of people living in each house and also name of person renting from if applicable
  • Also add to picture of their life by looking at what is called FORM B – houses and building return which comes at beginning of return for each street or townland
    This family lived in Pigott Lane
  • After extracting all available information from 1911 census one should then try to track down the family’s return for 1901
    Not as much information as 1911; does not list duration of marriage or details of children alive and dead
    However, ages are important. Will find do not always correspond to 1911 in that not 10 years younger
    Old Age Pension Act
    So often more accurate indication of where should be looking for birth certs
  • Where can I access them?
    LCL has complete 1901 and 1911 returns for Limerick City and County (Mallow Street)
    traditionally census only searchable by address but LCL has built databases of names to better facilitate research
    Website has list of householders
    databases of names which we can check here on site; complete for 1911 city area and householders for others
    National Archives: microfilm copies for the country; 40% of productions for readers
    is uploading onto its website, fully searchable for free. Running over time. Dublin, Antrim, Down and Kerry for 1911 now available but they were supposed to have been up last July and all of 1911 by December.
    Limerick sixth on list.
  • Next census, due Civil War, was in 1926. Then 1936 and afterwards every 5 years. Same as today
    These covered by confidentiality clause in 1926 Statistics Act. Government legislated for this in the 1993 Statistics Act imposes a 100-year closure rule on them
    So 1926 census closed until 2026
    However, campaign to have it released as being of special heritage status, of particular historical value as on opposite side of rev. period to 1911.
    US 70 years; CIGO online petition and bill going through Seanad at the moment.
  • Fully searchable for a fee
    Buy credits, £5 sterling minimum. Good value for what you get
  • began in England and Wales in 1837 and extended to Ireland in 1864
    non-Catholic marriages 1845
    So theoretically, should be a birth, marriage and death certificate for all individuals born after that date
    However, despite hefty fines for failure to do so, it was at least another 10-15 years before the registration of these events (the responsibility of the public) became relatively routine with the result that a significant proportion went unrecorded.
    John Grenham estimate that fully 15% went unrecorded
  • Marriage: Date, names, addresses, ages, occupations, fathers’ names and occupations
  • Deaths: Date, name, age, cause of death, duration of illness, person who registered death. Archaic terms phititis, senectus, marasmus
  • civil records held locally at regional registration office.
    Have all original registers from 1864 to present day
    Require quite specific details; not a research service
    Limerick City St. Camillus’s Hospital and Limerick County at St. Ita’s, Newcastle West
    order a €6 “uncertified cert” which is a photocopy of the original entry in the register. Same information as €10 official cert
  • However are being computerised.
    All births from 1864; marriages from 1920; deaths from 1924 are uploaded should be accessible anywhere
    But for pre-1920 marriages and pre-1924 deaths, must go to local office
  • If do not have specifics or if your research is more wide-ranging and general you will need to research the civil records yourself
    Some local register offices can facilitate this at discretion of staff. Eg. St. Camillus – prices, booking etc whereas St. Ita’s cannot
  • if your local office does not have research facility OR if your family lived in different counties (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary)
    Copies of all national civil records held there with large research centre
    In theory this is a great idea but in practice, it is quite expensive and user-unfriendly
  • Indexes arranged chronologically and names listed alphabetically within them
    €2 to consult a single five-year run of specific indexes (e.g. births 1870-1874, deaths 1921-1925) or €20 for a day’s unlimited access, payable in full regardless of what time one arrives. And this despite the fact that the indexes are now on open access and are retrieved by researchers themselves.
  • Using reference numbers supplied in the indexes, the records themselves can then be ordered for a further €4 a pop.
    But only five records will be provided on site in any one day. All others posted.
    given that one record is often an indispenable lead to another, can bring research to a frustratingly premature halt.
  • Worse still, the ordering procedure for these five precious records is strictly governed by the principle of “you pays your money and you takes your chance” despite the fact that certain indexes contain insufficient information to identify the records required.
    For example, the pre-1903 birth indexes list only the child’s name and registration district, making it impossible to distinguish between same-name entries of (and, given the high concentration of certain surnames in some areas, there are frequently a considerable number).
    And in an infuriating display of petty officiousness, staff refuse to utilise any additional information you can personally supply to limit the possibilities (such as parental names) insisting you pay your €4 and guess
    In 2006 GRO gave a commitment to CIGO that will eventually allow public access to computerised records but nothing happened so far
  • Catholic clergy required to keep sacramental records since the Council of Trent but sporadic repression of Irish Catholicism culminating in Penal Laws made this an impossible task. Only when relaxed or repealed in latter half of 18th century did Catholic Parishes begin to keep records.
    Even the a low priority and only with Catholic revival of early 1800s were kept in significant numbers
    Consequently, vast majority registers begin in 1810-1860 period and the extent to which those of particular parishes pre-date start of CR is essentially a matter of luck
    More prosperous, Anglicised areas have earliest; Galway/Waterford cities 1680s, others especially along Western and Northern seaboards did not begin record-keeping until late 19th century, after CR begun
    Limerick dates
    Word on parishes; Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837
  • As pro-forma registers were not introduced until the late nineteenth century, many early (pre-1864) Catholic records contain but a bare minimum of genealogical information
    marriage records, for example, frequently list only spousal names, witnesses and dates where as we’ve seen the civil equivalent also documents the couple’s ages, addresses, occupations and the occupations and names of their fathers.
    just 20-30% of all Catholic parishes kept burial records; COI records; Mount St. Lawrence from 1855
  • Not indexed by name as in GRO. Ordered chronologically so this generally means a time-consuming trawl
    Can be very hard to read. Bad handwriting; ancient scrawl on disintegrating paper, which does not microfilm well
    many written in Latin
    BAPTISAVI: I baptised Charles, legitimate son of James Keane and Mary Kennedy of Lisnagry. Godparents Jeremiah Smith and Margaret King
    IN MATRIMONIAM CONIUNXI SUNT…: DS and BM of Lisnagry are joined in matrimony. Witneses …
  • Generally kept by the parishes; can be accessed there by appointment or more usually searched by the clergy themselves
    Not strictly public records so need to keep this in mind when requesting access. Most parishes in the Diocese of Limerick very accommodating
    LCL has details of what records are held by the parishes and the telephone numbers of the parish offices
    Exception to this rule in Cashel and Emly. Covers a large part of East Limerick; about 25% of the county
    will only provide information through a centralised commissioning service at the Excel Centre in Tipperary Town for which it charges quite extortionate fees, ranging from €22 for a single record search to €80 for a family search, payable irrespective of whether any records are found
    However, would recommend approaching the parish priest on off-chance of being allowed access
  • A way around C& E intransigence
    Microfilm copies of Catholic parish records made by the NLI in the 1950s and 1960s; from date of commencement up to 1880
    As contained details of people still living, could originally only be accessed with written permission of priest or bishop but this was lifted by most dioceses in the 1980s including C & E
    But in 1991-1992 Archbishop Clifford forced the NLI to restrict access to the copies it had made of C&E records claiming copyright over them
    May 2008: having been repeatedly advised that the archdiocese’s case was legally unsound, the Library finally re-opened the records
    Now can be accessed there free of charge.
  • Process of ordering
  • Easiest way now online
    Irish Family History Foundation; project-in-progress which aims to upload genealogical data held by local heritage centres onto one fully searchable site. 14 million records so far
    Limerick: purports to have almost everything to 1911
    Drawbacks; insufficient indexical information. Costly process of elimination; father’s name field and cost reduction
    Mormons; long-established policy of collecting genealogical data for what call “baptising by proxy” the non-Mormon dead. Belief that allows them to embrace Mormonism in the afterlife. Controversial, Holocaust, Bishop of Limerick; One of C&E’s excuses
    Mass microfilming projects; huge genealogical datbase in SLC
    GRO births 1864-1875
  • a nationwide survey of property occupancy carried out between 1847 and 1864 for the purpose of calculating rates
    Limerick City survey published September 1850, Limerick County May 1851
    County, Barony, Parish, Townland/Street
  • Name, Lessor (usually but not always owner), Description, A.R.P., Value of Land, Value of Buildings, Total Value. Rates calculated on this
    As concerned with levying of taxes etc, no genealogical information other than names of the householder and, very occasionally, his father’s first name (Gaelic practice) or occupations – next slide
  • occupations
  • BUT fascinating in that it is referenced with maps on which the person’s holding is marked
  • Generally GV searchable only by address. BUT LCL has database of names for city, hardcopy and on website
    Askaboutireland: fantastic resource
    complete with facsimiles of original register entries and the accompanying maps
    Printing issues
    Useful for identify parishes in which family lived for purposes of consulting parish registers. However civil parishes
  • Revaluation (Revision) books going up to preset day.
    Essentially update Griffith’s by recording changes in ownership and the date.
    Available for research at Valuation Office, Irish Life Centre (decentralisation to Youghal)
  • even more limited in genealogical value.
    Compiled between 1823 and 1838 to assess the tithes payable to the established Church of Ireland
    A tax payable by all denominations. Originally it was paid in kind but 1823 Composition Act said had to be cash. Therefore all land had to be appolted (surveyed and valued and the expected annual income assessed) to calculate what each person owed
    they record only those liable for the tax, which was almost all land occupiers; BUT they exclude non-landed labourers and trademen, almost all urban dwellers and even the occupiers of some categories of land are excluded (in Munster, for example, tithes were not payable on grassland since 1736 as mainly held by landlord classes).
    About 2,000 of these books compiled
  • As with Grifith’s, organised according to civil parish and townland and only name of the householder is supplied
    indeed, if at all, as the books for some parishes record only the totals due for each townland
  • Held in NA which has microfilm copies for country
    LCL has microfiche copies for Limerick
    Connors genealogy and other websites – transcriptions of various Limerick parishes
    Tithe Defaulters. Huge resentment, unrest and refusal to pay, leaving many COI ministers penniless. 1832 Clergy Relief Fund, to avail, had to submit a list of defaulters in the parish in 1831.
    Over one-fifth survive in NA
    Limerick; some coverage. Rathjordan, Kilpeacon, Kilteely, Ballycahane
  • List anyone over 21 and registered to vote
  • An few from pre-1900 period. Then 1923; gap until 1931 and a complete run until the mid-1980s
    Generally speaking, searchable by address only but 1923, 1931, 1940, 1945, 1950 can also be searched by name
  • Primitive Golden Pages; list businesses and their addresses. Sometimes advertisements
  • Miscellaneous collection from 18th century to 1930s
    search by name at the reference desk or on website
  • If relative person of means, achievement or influence
    Died an unusual death
  • No real emigration records in Ireland; records generally kept at point of arrival not departure
    passenger lists of ships arriving in the US kept from 1820. in US National Archives (microfilm for NY and Boston arrivals in NLI)
    LCL Famine era manifests to Port of New York. Organised according to date of arrival and contain name, age, sex, relationship, occupation.
    Best source now the internet. Google irish passenger lists
    Castle Garden 1830-1892 (10m records)
    Ellis Island 1892-1924 (25 million): astonishing amount of information
    Australian transportation from 1791 -1853 + 1868 ; incomplete before 1836; records in NA; name, age, crime, date and place of trial, sentence
    Also free settlers’ papers (after 4 years served, convict could request free passage for family – papers include names and addresses, petitions, transporation details)
  • Estimated that 40% of those serving mid-19th were Irish
    Generally speaking military and police records in PRO in Kew, Richmond as were serving in British forces so British army records
    WWI’ two-thirds of WWI records destroyed during Blitz; Deaths 1923 8 Volume Ireland’s Memorial Records LCL; also www.1901censusonline.com. Commonwealth Graves Commission website
    WWII : records not public; prove kinship
  • RIC: 85,000 names. Kew but microfilm copies in NAI: Jim Herlihy’s indexes
    Name; Age when Appointed; Height; Native County; Religion Date of Marriage Native Co. of Wife; Recommendations; Former Occupation; Counties stationed To; Promotions/Demotions; Rewards/Punishments; Discharged/Dismissed; Injuries; Pension Details
  • Tracing Your Family History

    1. 1. Tracing Your Family History Local, National & Internet Resources
    2. 2. Outline • Census Returns • Civil Records • Parish Records • Land Records • Other Sources
    3. 3. Census Returns
    4. 4. Census Returns • 1813 • 1821 • 1831-34 • 1841 • 1851
    5. 5. Census Returns • 1861 • 1871 • 1881 • 1891
    6. 6. 1821-1851: Surviving Fragments & Extracts • Original fragments • Transcriptions • Old Age Pension Search Forms
    7. 7. Census Returns 1901 1911
    8. 8. Census Returns www.limerickcity.ie www.census.nationalarchives.ie
    9. 9. Census Returns 1926 www.cigo.ie
    10. 10. U.K. Census Returns www.1901censusonline.com www.1911census.co.uk
    11. 11. Civil Records
    12. 12. Civil Records • 1845 Non-Catholic Marriages • 1864 All Births, Deaths & Marriages
    13. 13. Civil Records
    14. 14. Civil Records
    15. 15. Civil Records
    16. 16. Civil Records
    17. 17. Civil Records Limerick City St. Camillus’s Hospital Shelbourne Road Mon-Fri 9.30am – 4.00pm 061-483763 Limerick County St. Ita’s Hospital Newcastle West Mon-Fri 9.30am - 4.00pm 069-66661
    18. 18. Civil Records • Births from 1864 • Marriages from 1920 • Deaths from 1924
    19. 19. Civil Records Limerick 1 • St. Mary’s • St. Bridget’s • St. Patrick’s • St. Munchin’s (-1951) Limerick 2 • St. Michael’s • St. John’s • Holy Family, Southill • Our Lady Queen of Peace Limerick 3 • St. Joseph’s • Our Lady of Lourdes • Sarsfield Barracks Limerick 4 • St. Munchin’s (1952-) • Holy Rosary • Corpus Christi • St. Lelia’s Limerick 5 • St. Saviour’s (Dominicans)
    20. 20. Civil Records The General Register Office Block 7, Floor 3 Irish Life Centre Lower Abbey Street Dublin 1 01-635 4000 www.groireland.ie
    21. 21. Civil Records
    22. 22. Parish Records
    23. 23. • www.irishtimes.com/ancestor
    24. 24. Parish Records Baptisms • Date • Child’s name • Parents’ names • Godparents’ names Marriages • Date • Spousal names • Witnesses
    25. 25. Parish Records • Jan 18: Bapt. Carolam, f.l. Jacobi Keane et Mariae Kennedy de Lisnagry. Sponsoribus Demetrius Smith et Margarita King • Nov 23: Mat. con. Danielum Stack et Brigidam Moloney, Lisnagry. Test. Johannes Burke et Honoria Dalton
    26. 26. Parish Records • Irish Catholic Directory • www.limerickdiocese.org
    27. 27. Parish Records National Library of Ireland Kildare Street Dublin 2 www.nli.ie 01-603 0200 info@nli.ie
    28. 28. Parish & Civil Records www.irish-roots.ie www.familysearch.org
    29. 29. Land Records
    30. 30. Land Records Griffith’s Primary Valuation 1847-1864 (Limerick 1850-51)
    31. 31. Land Records Griffith’s Valuation www.askaboutireland.ie
    32. 32. Land Records Revaluation/Revision Books 1850 - The Valuation Office Irish Life Centre Lower Abbey Street Dublin 1 01-817 1000 www.valoff.ie
    33. 33. Land Records Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1838
    34. 34. Land Records Tithe Applotments www.connorsgenealogy.com
    35. 35. Other Sources
    36. 36. Voters’ Lists
    37. 37. Voters’ Lists • 1837, 1852, 1885, 1923, 1931, 1940, 1945, 1950 www.limerickcity.ie • 1932 – Hardcopy available at Limerick City Library
    38. 38. Trades’ Directories
    39. 39. Trades’ Directories • Miscellaneous Collection 1769-1938 • Hardcopies at Limerick City Library • Searchable database www.limerickcity.ie
    40. 40. Limerick Chronicle Death Records • Death Notices • Obituaries • Funeral Reports • Inquest Reports
    41. 41. Emigration Records • Passenger Lists • www.castlegarden.org • www.ellisisland.org • Transportation Records
    42. 42. Military/Police • World War I • World War II • Royal Irish Constabulary
    43. 43. R.I.C. Records
    44. 44. €10.50
    45. 45. Limerick Genealogy www.limerickgenealogy.com 061-496542 research@limerickgenealogy.com
    46. 46. Tracing Your Family History Local, National & Internet Resources

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