Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2005-03 > 1109880177

From: "greenmill" <>
Subject: Re: [Irish in Chicago] Finding Irish Parish records in Ireland
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2005 12:02:57 -0800
References: <>

Hi Dan, An few more takes on trying to pin down Irish birthdays:
My emigrants all seem to have been 17 when they came here and got older in
later census reports. Probably the cost of a ship's ticket. Many, my ggram
included, wasn't only 17 but was born on 17 March, St. Pat's. Many were
listed for that.
Another problem, not just for the Irish: who responded to the census taker?
A 12 year old? A senile
Jim Ryan, CA

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Hogan" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Irish in Chicago] Finding Irish Parish records in Ireland

>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
> 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

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