Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 2011-03 > 1301589281

From: "David C Abernathy" <>
Subject: Re: [S-I] Indexes to Irish Passenger lists fromCentre for Migration Studies, Omagh, Co. Tyrone
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2011 09:34:41 -0700
References: <><>
In-Reply-To: <>

Thank you for the very well written answer to my question.
I will check out the links provided.

You have always provide good valid information and methods.

David C Abernathy
Email disclaimers
This message represents the official view of the voices in my head.
== All outgoing and incoming mail is scanned by F-Prot Antivirus  ==

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:] On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:13 AM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Indexes to Irish Passenger lists from Centre for
Migration Studies, Omagh, Co. Tyrone

Hi David, the records start in 1791 due to the passing of a law, like many
records we now use in genealogy. If you want to understand why we have
certain records you must study the law. Before the American Revolution the
British government did not require that the names of those leaving be
documented. Nor did it require that the names of those arriving at American
ports be documented, with one exception. It did have a law requiring that
non British take an oath of allegiance to the British government. Thus we
have huge volumes of people arriving who took the oath, such as the Germans.
Other legal bodies did sometimes have laws that required that the names of
some arrivals be taken, such as the port of Philly that in a certain time
period (ie, after the passing of the law) required that people bringing in
goods over a certain amount pay taxes on those goods. So the richer ones
were documented. And we have, just sticking to the migration laws, a
complexity of legal entities wh!
o may or probably did not pass laws regarding immigration that may have
resulted in the names being documented. Some of the names. Like in the case
of the Carolina law that gave free land to migrants. That resulted in the
names of people claiming free land being documented in the state records --
but not the names of everyone on the ships. Just the poor ones who claimed

For details you can consult a good book on US colonial immigration or/and

However the no brainer approach is to search Filby in Ancestry, and if you
don't find your man, try again next year when Filby is updated, and move on
to more productive forms of genealogy.

The exceptions are largely published. They are then indexed and in Filby.
Unfortunately, most of us will never know how or when our ancestors arrived
in colonial times from an immigration record. Even if we search for 20
years. Such a record never existed. So searching for it a long time is
stupid and waste of time. It can be avoided by learning about these things.
These days that's fairly easy due to the Internet and the genealogy
industry. There are many lectures and courses that are readily available. No
reason to waste your time. Looking for ship lists in the 18th century is
another symptom of the "trying to do 18th century genealogy using 19th
century methodologies' disease. Don't have birth records or ship lists or
censuses. Do have some things, but they're different from your 'right arm'
main stays of the 19th century.

This doesn't preclude the outside chance that you may find some records on
emigration or immigration made in other contexts than governments passing
laws. For example, some emigrants are named in the 1830's in the Ordnance
Survey Memoirs of some parishes. Sometimes you can get emigration
information from deeds. Who uses Irish deeds? Almost no one because they are
poorly indexed and hand written and hard to read. You can order the
microfilm at the FHL, but before doing so, you should read about them,
starting with Falley, the definitive work on Irish genealogy, at your local
library. Because you may screw up badly if you don't learn how to use new
record types effectively. Or spend a lot of time (and money) reading
something that you might decide later, ain't worth your while. There's
better things to be a-doing.

Do you know why US immigration records do not exist before 1820? LAW!!!
That's the year the US gov passed a law requiring that the names of incoming
migrants be documented. Some ports kept records before that date. The
British Isles Family History Society USA's website has a nice list of what
exists and the FHL film that its own.

You can also read "Ulster Emigration to Colonial America 1717-1775" by
Dickson. It doesn't name names (there are no lists of names to transcribe so
how could he possibly do that?) but it does explain a lot of things.

Also read "Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of American on
the Eve of the Revolution" by Bernard Bailyn, who won a Pulitzer for the
book. It uses a few records that do exist. Why? There was a law. Parliament
was getting concerned: who was leaving (the educated and rich or the riff
raff)? Why? So it attempted to document who was leaving. It didn't go well.
In those days ships were small and stopped at many many "ports" that we now
wouldn't consider a port. Or you were met off the coast and rowed out in a
boat -- common (I read) in Scotland. His source is records in the PRO in
London that document who left for American from 1773 to March 1776. He also
has about five pages of other manuscripts that he consulted. However only
132 people are documented as coming from Ireland -- so, as he says, the
majority of the thousands who emigrated during this period were not
registered (p 91). So these records are only of interest to those
researching migrants from England an!
d Scotland.

As Parliament learned from this experiment, terminated when all emigration
to the American colonies ended with the Revolution, it's durn hard to keep
track of who is leaving. After the Revolution it tried again, without much
success. It wanted to limit emigration to the non skilled trades. So all
simply identified themselves as unskilled workers (and hopped on board at
non-official ports of debarkation). They were more successful in the US at
documenting arrivals, after 1820. Excepting those of course who jumped ship
or who arrived via Canadian ports (an estimated one third of the
population). It was cheaper to come by Canada and since nature provided a
marvalous interstate highway called "The Great Lakes", now cleared of
hostile Indians (but not hostile immigrants), it was popular.

So even after 1820 you only got 2 in 3 chances of locating your ancestor in
a US ship list.

Many people arrived as criminals. Oddly enough, no one ever claims descent
from them, almost as if the British Gov "fixed' them before leaving the
dock! Some who were sent off from larger cities like London and Bristol, are
documented (and indexed in Filby). Of course those deported from smaller
cities and especially from Scotland and Ireland were not documented. There's
a chance the people who look for and find their names in court dockets and
other kinds of papers associated with towns and cities might find such and
publish some more, but unless you are a scholar yourself, you will not find
these before they do. When they do, they'll publish them and they'll be
indexed in Filby. Peter Coldham has spent his life transcribing records and
publishing them. See (this
book is indexed in Filby, at Ancestry). While some at the time felt that
Bristol and London were infested with Irish criminals, actually, not a!
lot got deported from these places. Most Irish criminals were in Ireland!
And their passages to America aren't documented. Which is why we're fond of
DNA research <grin>. Oh, excepting that none of us descend from criminals,
do we? <WINK>

Great bibliography here :

Good article here:

My ancestor Robert BLACK, late of Ahoghill Village, Antrim, emigrated and
joined his brother Rev. John -- who would have been a criminal if the
British had caught him. However he made it to America about 1790 where he
became a national figure. If it weren't for the Rev. John, we'd have no idea
where Robert came from. Criminals and escaping political figures are very
good to have in one's tree. And its good to research collateral lines.

Best of luck,

Linda Merle

----- Original Message -----
From: "David C Abernathy" <>
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2011 10:43:11 AM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Indexes to Irish Passenger lists from Centre for
Migration Studies, Omagh, Co. Tyrone

Yes this looks good, but, why did they start at 1791? I know you do not
My ancestors come over well before that, the first born was in SC in 1775.
Sure hope they (IFHF) can find earlier data.
The IFHF are doing a great job, and their emails are very interesting.

David C Abernathy
Email disclaimers

This message represents the official view of the voices in my head.
== All outgoing and incoming mail is scanned by F-Prot Antivirus ==

This thread: