Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2005-03 > 1109875072

Subject: Re: [Irish in Chicago] Finding Irish Parish records in Ireland
Date: Thu, 03 Mar 2005 18:37:52 +0000

Hi Dan

You will find many different dates in Irish records. A baptismal record is more accurate than a civil in Ireland. The reason being that there was a very stiff fine imposed on these very poor people and more often than not when they were late they changed the date of birth to avoid paying what they could not. Who could blame them? Also, these were very poor people and it goes without saying that there was not much ado about birthdays and many didn't really know when they were born. Sounds strange but it's true. It was more work than play for children back then.


> I knew someone would call me on this. I tried to be "politically
> correct", but now in order to give the proper explanation, I may
> insult/offend some people.
> So far this discussion we have had on this list has been not only very
> informative, but cordial with no one getting upset. I say this because
> on other lists, it gets very heated and people get easily offended,
> become picky with words and meanings, and sometimes get nasty to the
> point that the person in charge of the list has to put a stop to it.
> Therefore, that being said, what I meant by varying birth dates on
> documents, which is quite common and almost standard in not only Irish,
> but Hispanic research as well is, plain and simple, our ancestors lied
> about their ages.
> This subject of lying to the civil authorities, census takers, clerks,
> etc. is very prevalent in Irish research, and after many finally
> admitted to this on other rootsweb lists in the past, seems to be quite
> common.
> It is pretty much a rule of thumb that dates on civil records are not
> to be trusted and one must search within a 10 year or so spread of the
> dates given.
> Having said this, the question is why they lied. This is more
> complicated and must be viewed in cultural/historical terms.
> Speaking from my own experience and upbringing, my mother is Hispanic
> and my father 100% Irish, I was told never to give my real age to
> anyone that asked, that is was impolite to ask and therefore none of
> their business. All my hispanic relatives are the same way.
> When I first started looking for my Irish relatives, I found many
> varying dates on all civil records. I and many suspected that this was
> mainly due to inaccurate recording, but then I began to read and hear
> about this aspect of purposely giving the wrong birth dates from other
> researchers. I too suspected as such and when I asked my elderly aunts,
> at first they were apprehensive, but finally admitted that our
> ancestors lied about their ages and that it was quite common.
> The reasons are varied, but according to my aunts, they lied because
> they had life insurance policies and did not want the companies to find
> out. Therefore they had to alter all civil records to make them appear
> younger. My Irish immigrant ancestor's death certificate says born
> 1868, census records state anywhere from 1865-1870, civil marriage
> document states 1861, ship passenger list states 1862. Parish baptism,
> which took me 6 years to find, says 1859!
> I and many others also theorize this aspect was also a measure of
> defiance toward civil authorities, remember where these people came
> from the government was the enemy (England, Spain, ect)
> This is why parish records are so valuable and arguably the best source
> of info, because while our ancestors thought nothing of giving false
> info to civil authorities, they would not dare lie to their priest? If
> so, they may, as many Irish coroner's records state, get a "Visitation
> from God".
> Dan Hogan
> On Wednesday, March 2, 2005, at 03:26 PM, Jim & Sharon Kavanagh wrote:
> > Dan, Would you please comment on Irish giving varying birth dates on
> > different documents. I would be most interested in hearing of your
> > experience of this.
> > Thanks
> > Sharon
> >
> >
> > At 02:43 PM 3/2/2005 -0800, you wrote:
> >> This is so very true. The naming traditions, customs, food, and even
> >> the variations in birth dates on different documents is common for
> >> both.
> >> Dan Hogan
> ==============================
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