Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2009-09 > 1252436426
Subject: Re: [S-I] Derry Records Strategies
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2009 19:00:26 +0000 (UTC)
Hi Julie, I'm wondering what you were hoping to find in them? This isn't an idle question.....sometimes we look for what is not likely to be there....like a baptism of our Presbyterian ancestor, born in 1712.
Irish church records are not the greatest. The system was the same that largely worked in Scotland and England. There was a state church. Everyone belonged. Because of that the parish could perform some civil functions. For example, it dispensed charity, its records served as a de factor registration of birth, deaths, and marriages, it processed wills.
The Quakers and the Jews were allowed to keep their own records -- and it was expected they kept good ones. They did. Unfortunately most of our ancestors were neither.
In England you had recusants (Catholics), baptists, etc -- people who distanced themselves from the church, but they were a minority. In Scotland you had larger portions of the population who were 'out' of the established church at varying times. At one point in the early 1800s, up to a third were 'out'. My Scottish ancestors were 'out', with the Free Kirk. It kept good records. They're also generally in the Scottish established church OPRs, but not always. The Free Kirk records often have more information. There were Catholics, Quakers, Episcopaleans, etc, as well. You also had the very poor who could not afford the clothing to go to church. They might not be in the church records but not for religious reasons. However often the law required registering the birth and most complied.
However in Ireland, the majority of the population were Catholic. The only ones who appear in Church of Ireland records were ones who owned land and wanted to retain it. The head of the family might 'conform' to avoid the penal laws. But the majority owned nothing. Dissenting Protestants also are not likely to be in the Established Church records. In some parishes, the only attendee of the vicar's service was his cat and wife. Everyone else was 'out'. So the system didn't work very well at all.
However it was often illegal -- on pain of death-- for priests to perform mixed marriages, so these were often done by the local vicar. And Presbyterians with land or who held public office after the passing of the penal laws in the early 1700s, had to show up for communion a number of times of the year or lose. Or perhaps your ancestor was found, a poor orphan, and bundled up and taken to the poor house and baptized by the vicar. In some English parish records I was viewing once, the vicar descended on the parish poorhouse and baptized all the Irish Catholic children there -- over the protests of their mothers.
Because we don't know all about our ancestors (that's why we do family history) and due to the complexity of the church records in Ireland, Irish genealogy classes always tell us to always search these records. At one time, this was a very impossible task -- to search all the Irish records. However now it's a five minute job, for the most part, since the indexes of church records that were made at the county level some years ago are not on line .
However it's not something you do only once. You may try to find your John Smith...then give up. Maybe the county is not on line yet. Or you don't have enough information to tell which one might be him. You might have to recheck when you identify the likely county of origin (you can eliminate the other counties). Or the name of his wife or the year they were married, or the exact year of birth or the name of a parent.
For a marriage, if you know the name of the bride as well as the groom, you search for the groom -- and make a list, including location. Then you search for the bride and do the same. You are looking for a parish that has a marriage at the same time for people with bo th these names. They married each other -- so they were married to one another on the same day in the same place, right? So you can eliminate all the ones that don't have hits in the same place at the same time. Then you'll only have a very short number to consider ordering.
However you need to be aware that parish records might not name the parents (f that is what you were hoping to learn) as Civil Registration will. However if you can identify the parish, this is a huge win. You can then do a more thorough search of all kinds of records in that parish. You can find out exactly where they lived and hunt for estate records.
Big caveat: What has become Irish civil parishes were Church of Ireland parishes. These were prehistoric, in many cases, taken over at the time of the Protestant Reformation. As the Catholic church re-organized after the Catholic Emancipation, it created new parishes that do not correspond to CHurch of Ireland civil parishes. In one case I was trying to find a potential household for the bride. I was looking in the civil parish. Zero. However the Catholic parish was twice as big and included part of an adjoining civil parish. I found a potential household in that part of the adjoining civil parish. They met at church. They attended the same parish church, all their lives.
Presbyterians in Ireland were congregational: they could go to whatever church they wanted. They might bypass the one close by and go far to attend a church with others with the same beliefs. So with them....give up and search all the records you can find. Don't assume they went to the local church.
Lastly, if they were on the edges of a county, search the adjacent county. I recall a 'case' of a family living on the edge of Antrim. No record of them about. The manor of the estate they lived in was in L'derry, not Antrim. I suspect their entire social life was in Coleraine, though they physically lived on a townland in Antrim -- adjoining some heavily farmed townlands where no one lived. This kind of search was once horribly expensive. MIght not be so now. Of course the people might not be in any surviving church records at all (they lived in the 1800s so they might be). Things change. Last week it was impossible to search most of the Derry church records fast. Today....takes about a minute. Of course some aren't indexed....it's a 'fuzzy' search.
However your church records may not be indexed. Some are not. You can check a book like Ryan "Irish Records" for the low down and compare it with what the county family history site says....they probably disagree....welcome to Irish genealogy!
So when did your ancestor live? if too early, that might explain a 'no hit'. What do you know about him? You may not know enough to positively identify him, without playing Irish roulette -- ordering a huge number of records to see who the parent or marital partner was. Then you gotta circle around and scare up some more info.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 6:15:53 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: [S-I] Derry Records Strategies
I'd certainly like to know some of your strategies for searching the IFHF records; I've searched them on several occasions and come up empty-handed.
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