Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2009-12 > 1260325817
Subject: Re: [S-I] 1641 Depositions
Date: Wed, 9 Dec 2009 02:30:17 +0000 (UTC)
Hi Dr. Montgomery, I have not used these depositions. Generally only real scholars have used them. In addition to the problems you mention, I suspect they are hand written (no transcriptions). Most material of this period is very difficult for people who are not trained to read them to read. So anyone of the genealogy-class would 'burn out' on them quite rapidly and give up and go out for a well deserved drink in Dublin. Or rather I would <grin>!!
I have used the microfilmed and typed depositions that the Armagh Museum has. They are relevant to Armagh area.
There wouldn't be many from Antrim (esp. south and south east) and Down because the British held these areas. Largely it is the areas where the majority of people rebelled and overran the British that the depositions are from: Ie Tyrone, Derry, possibly the Route area of Antrim, Armagh certainly.
Several books that I have read had large sections devoted to discussion of depositions -- so they are usable by the serious scholar, but I had the same thought as you: without a decent finding aid and possibly transcription, what use are they? Even if fully searchable, it is highly probably the many names would not be spelled in a standard way, making them difficult to find with a search. However too once the documents are digitized, creating a finding aid is a lot easier.
What will cause disappointment to family historians is that they will often not find the ancestor they seek. There was a lot of turnover of people through this period. In one district in Tyrone, all the settler names before 1641 were gone after it -- and these people did not return. People have a very simplistic understanding of the settlement of Ulster. Actually many surnames don't go back before the 1650s -- people arrived after the restoration of peace. Many people also came in the late 1600s after the Williamite War. Apparently whole towns sprang up (but not in east ANtrim or Down -- which were fairly well settled but in areas left bereft of settlers and Irish by the Rebellion and its aftermath).
The 1642 musterings are very useful for settlers. If you understand Ulster in that period (who the leaders were, where their estates are -- not hard to learn by using the PRONI website), then you can also determine where your ancestor lived because he was mustered in by his landlord, who know he was trustworthy. They're microfilmed and hardcopy is in both the Santa Monica FHL and Salt Lake. Typescript so it is possible to read through them without going mad. No index.
I would like to find the mustering of Scots into Monroe's Army (ie not guys mustered in in Ireland but in Scotland). So far haven't found them.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Montgomery Michael" <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 7:08:50 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: [S-I] 1641 Depositions
The prospect of an electronic version of the 1641 depositions is an appealing one, but as a prelude I would like to ask anyone who has worked with them directly in the Trinity College Dublin Manuscripts Library to give us an idea of how well- organized manageable this massive collection of material is. What have been your experiences? Some years ago I spent two days in the archives (which issued gloves for researchers and required that the large volumes in which the depositions were mounted be examined only atop cushioned stands), and I came away with three reactions: that the depositions were not organized in straight-forwardedly enough to find what one might specifically seek, that a decent finding aid did not exist, and that very few depositions came from Antrim and Down, of course the primary areas of the Ulster-Scots population. My experiences may have given me impressions than considered conclusions, but they were based on several hours of
trying to get to grips with the depositions, and I would appreciate learning the experiences of other researchers.
These documents form a unique collection in many, many ways, and some of these should probably sober us not to expect that an electronic version which employs a search engine (however powerful) can overcome the barriers of access a researcher faces with the depositions in person. A very useful bibliography on them can be found at a Trinity website:
I do not know whether the scholars who have received zillions of pounds sterling from the UK government and Euros from the Republic of Ireland government have plans to put any of these items on the internet, but they will do a distinct disservice if they do not. The essay by Aidan Clarke, in particular, details how the original depositions were cut up and re-organized in the 18th century and how subsequent archivist further shuffled them for one reason or another, making it impossible for anyone today to reconstitute their original form. To what extent these notions, whatever their motivations, impede access today I have no idea, but this issue and others that Clarke identifies raise many serious questions use of the documents in the 21st century. I realize that most on this list will not be able to read Clarke's very important work, but my point is that the collection, when it does go on line, will have the potential to mislead and disappoint readers
unless it gives readers appropriate and detailed caveats about what can and cannot be found. Yes, these same cautions apply to ANY online collection, but to this one in particular they much more so, because of its size, complexity, and history. And online users will mislead and disappoint themselves if they do not invest the time to understand the nature of the collection.
Good wishes to all
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