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Ireland

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Church records are an excellent source of names, dates, relationships, and places. In fact, church records are the primary source for pre-civil registration (pre-1864) Irish research.  Church records include records of christenings, marriages, and burials, sometimes giving birth and death dates. These records were kept in bound registers, usually called parish registers. Church records may include other types of records such as religious census returns, emigration lists, and session or vestry minutes. 

The following book contains information about the history and records of many Irish religious denominations:

Ryan, James G., ed. Irish Church Records. Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland: Flyleaf Press, 1992. (FHL book Ref 941.5 K27rj.)

The following books also have excellent information about church records:

Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 vols. Evanston, Illinois: Margaret Dickson Falley, 1961-62. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27f 2 vols.)

Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 3rd ed. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 2006. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27gj 2006.)
Ireland Church Tower.jpg

Contents

Church of Ireland Records

The Church of Ireland was decreed the State Church in Ireland in 1536 by an Act of the Irish Parliament. While members of the Church of Ireland were very much a minority, this granted broad powers to primarily the English settlers to be the ruling class. Among this ruling class, numerous records were created to document the laws enacted and to legitimize the displacement of the Catholic citizens. From this point forth, those not of the State Church (also known as the Established Church) began to slowly regain their privileges.
Church of Ireland 3.jpg

The parishes of the Church of Ireland served as governmental centers for the administration of matters of probate and matrimonial jurisdiction. Its prelates and clergy became important officers of the state and exercised a disproportionate amount of power relative to their small numbers. Membership in the Church of Ireland was fundamental to persons serving in any government position or to owning land and being able to maintain the core of their family wealth.

Historically, each parish in Ireland kept its own records. Because the Church of Ireland was the state or established church, these parish records were considered state records. In 1876 a law was passed requiring that Church of Ireland parish registers be deposited in the Public Record Office in Dublin for safekeeping. This law was amended in 1878 to allow parishes with good storage facilities to retain their records, so not all parish records were sent to Dublin. Further, some ministers made copies of their records before sending the originals to Dublin. Thus, many Church of Ireland records remain, even though the records sent to Dublin were destroyed in 1922 when the Public Record Office burned.

Church of Ireland parish registers list christenings, marriages, and burials. The amount of information recorded varies from parish to parish and from minister to minister. Later records generally give more information than earlier ones. Because the Church of Ireland was the State Church, even people who did not belong to the church were sometimes listed in the church's parish registers. Consequently, it is wise to search Church of Ireland records regardless of your ancestor's religion.

Key Historical Dates

  • 1534 Henry VIII of England enacts the Act of Supremacy enabling him to become the head of the Church of England.
  • 1536 Irish Parliament declares Henry VIII head of the Church of Ireland and recognizes it as the State Church in Ireland.
  • 1617 Early attempt to require the registration of baptisms, marriages and burials. Efforts are widely ignored by 1620.
  • 1634 46th Canon of the Irish Church required the recording of “Christenings, Weddings, and Burials.” Copies of the records are to be returned to the Bishop of each Diocese.
  • 1660 Restoration to the English Crown of Charles II. Conditions ease for Catholics.
  • 1661 Reconstitution of Episcopal State Church – A separate commis
  • sion also investigates Irish land ownership.
  • 1807 pro forma registers instituted. The first are published by William Watson of Capel Street, Dublin. Registers were further improved in the 1820's. These standardized the recording of the information for births, marriages, and deaths.
  • 1832 Irish Tithe Composition Act – provided for tithes to be paid to the State Church, the Church of Ireland.
  • 1869 Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland as the State Church. All churches are to be equally recognized by the government.
  • 1875 Act of Parliament proclaiming that the Church of Ireland parish registers are “public records” and as such must be deposited in the Public Records Office, Dublin. Parochial returns sent to the Bishops of each Diocese are also required to be deposited in the PRO, Dublin.
  • 1905 Parish Register Society of Dublin begins the printed publication of Church of Ireland parish registers. They complete sixteen (16) before the destruction of the records in 1922 and abandon the project thereafter.
  • 1922 Public Records Office burnt by fire. Most registers housed there were destroyed.
  • re and explosion 21 June. Registers of 1,006 parishes are destroyed. Surviving registers number 637 with copies of the destroyed registers made prior to deposit numbering 124 and the Public Record Office holding an additional 23 copies of registers. Only three of the parochial returns survive.
  • 1939 Representative Church Body Library (RCBL), the official library of the Church of Ireland located in Dublin, begins receiving Church of Ireland parish registers for preservation. As of 2006, the library held over 780 original parish registers or copies/transcripts, many of which pre-date Ireland’s civil registration which began in 1845.

Christenings (Baptisms)

Children were usually christened (baptized) within a few weeks of birth, though some christenings of older children or adults are recorded. Parish registers provide at least the name of the person christened and the christening date. They usually record the name of the father and frequently the first name of the mother. They may also record birth date, legitimacy, father's occupation, and the family's place of residence. In larger cities, registers often provide the family's street address.

Marriages 

Pre-1845 parish registers usually provide only the date of marriage and the names of the bride and groom. Beginning in 1845, parish registers also include the place of marriage; the marital status, occupation, and place of residence; both fathers' occupations; and the names of witnesses (possible relatives). If the father was deceased, that fact was sometimes noted.

Couples were usually married in the bride's parish. Permission to marry was obtained in one of two ways:

  • By banns. Couples were required by law to have the minister announce their intent to marry or post notice of their intent on the church door for three consecutive Sundays before the marriage could take place, unless a special license was obtained. This gave others time to object to the marriage.
  • By license. A couple applied to the proper church authority, usually the bishop of the diocese or the Archbishop of Armagh, for a license to marry. An allegation and a bond were drawn up. The allegation listed the names of the bride and groom, their ages, marital statuses, and intended place of marriage. The bond was made to insure that all the information given was valid. The license granted permission to marry. Most Irish allegations, bonds, and licenses have been destroyed. However, some abstracts and indexes of these records for various dioceses remain. The indexes include the names of the intended bride and groom and the year their license was issued. To find the marriage license indexes and abstracts available at the Family History Library, look in the Locality Search of the catalog under the following headings:

IRELAND - CHURCH RECORDS

For further information click here.

Burials

Burial usually took place in the deceased's parish within a few days of the death. Burial records give the name of the deceased and the date of burial. Sometimes they also give the deceased's age, place of residence, cause of death, and occupation. Occasionally a wife's burial entry will provide the name of the husband, and a child's entry, the name of the father. Stillbirths are sometimes recorded in the burial registers. Stillbirths are not, however, listed in christening records.

Other Church of Ireland Records

Vestry Minutes

The vestry is the presiding council of a parish. Minutes of vestry meetings often mention parishioners, appointments of parish officers, and other items related to the parish. Occasionally records of births, christenings, marriages, deaths, and burials are included in the minutes. They were divided between the Select Vestry and the General Vestry, these minutes detail the workings not only of the religious business of the parish, but also the civil functions since they were the State Church. The Select Vestry were a group of Protestants who paid rates and levied small local taxes to support the maintenance of the Church and its officers. The General Vestry imposed a local tax (cess) to maintain local services such as road building/repair, street cleaning, fire brigades, and parish constables. The surviving lists provide a nice census substitute for the civil parish. Records for the poor of the parish and for those who are involved in the administration of the parish are also to be found among the Vestry Minutes.

Bastardy Bonds

These were records of unwed mothers who were interviewed by the Churchwardens to determine the name of the father. In many instances, this may be the only clue to the parentage of an illegitimate child. In a number of cases, the Churchwardens were unable to persuade the mother to name the father and one can only suspect that there were instances when the wrong father was named.

Pew Schedules 

These often provide a map of the location of the pews in the chancel and give the names of the parishioners who paid a fee for the pew and identify which pew they were assigned to for services.

Parish Deeds

The parish deeds are to be found both in the parish and in the Registry of Deeds, Henrietta Street, Dublin, Ireland. These are particularly useful for the tracing of prominent families prior to the beginning of the parish registers themselves. They are less significant for the general lay member. In some instances, parish property was sublet to tenants and the deeds in some rare examples may identify the names of tenants.

Locating Church of Ireland Records

Many Church of Ireland registers were destroyed in the fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922. To protect against further loss or deterioration, most existing records have been filmed or photocopied and the originals or copies deposited in national repositories in Ireland. Some of the deposited church records are closed to the general public. To search these records, you must obtain written permission from the minister of the parish or the bishop of the diocese over that parish.


Heritage Centers. Many church of Ireland parish records, as well as catholic parish records, some as far back as the 1790's, as well as census records, are being collected in repositories called Heritage Centers. Heritage Centers are part of a country-wide system, the Ireland Family History Foundation, which has begun to transcribe and index millions of the records. The transcribed and indexed are currently available for on-line research at http://www.brsgenealogy.com/ or www.irish-roots.ie for several, but not all, counties. Persons' names on birth, marriage and other records can be located, but a fee is charged to see the full transcription of a record, which may contain much additional helpful information.

Ministers were never required to send vestry minutes to Dublin for safekeeping. Consequently, most vestry minutes are in local custody, though some have been deposited at the National Archives, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, or other repositories.

To obtain information from a Church of Ireland record in Ireland, follow these suggestions:

Request a copy of the record from the Representative Church Body Library. A list of this library's parish records is found in:

Ryan, James G. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1988. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D23r.)

The library also has biographical sketches of Church of Ireland ministers. The address is:

Representative Church Body Library
Braemor Park
Rathgar
Dublin 14
IRELAND (EIRE)

Request a copy of the record from the National Archives or the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. To determine whether the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has a copy of the record, consult the descriptive catalog of the office's holdings. To locate filmed catalogs for the National Archives at the Family History Library, look in the Place Search of the catalog under the following headings:

IRELAND - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INDEXES

IRELAND - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS

Write to the minister of the appropriate parish to see if he will search his parish registers or vestry minutes for you. Ministers' addresses and jurisdictions are listed in the Church of Ireland Directory at:

To find Church of Ireland records at the Family History Library, consult the Place Search of the catalog under:

IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

Selected Bibliography

1. Begley, Donal F., editor. Irish Genealogy – A Record Finder. Dublin: Heraldic Artists Limited, 1981.

2. Dean, J. L. B. Church of Ireland Handbook, a guide to the organization of the Church. Dublin: A.P.C.K., 1962.

3. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. An Irish Genealogical Source: Guide to Church Records. Belfast: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 1994.

4. Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 volumes. Evanston, Illinois: privately printed, 1962.

5. Foster, R. F., editor. The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

6. Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Limited, 1992.

7. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. The Forty-first Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland. Dublin: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1909. [A complete list of the Church of Ireland Bishop’s Transcripts deposited in the PRO prior to 1922, Appendix II, pp. 26-33, Family History Library microfiche only at the Family History Library – not available for distribution to Family History Center’s.]

8. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. The Twenty-third Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland. Dublin: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1891. [A complete list of the Church of Ireland parish registers that had been deposited as of 1891, Appendix IV, pp. 153-203, Family History Library book 941.5 K23dk.]

9. Refaussé, Raymond. Church of Ireland Records Maynooth Research Guides for Irish Local History Number 1, Dublin Irish Academic Press, 2000.

10. Refaussé, Raymond. “The Representative Church Body Library and the records of the Church of Ireland,” Archivium Hibernicum 49 (1995).

11. The Stationery Office. The Fifty-sixth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records and Keeper of the State Papers in Ireland, Appendix VIII. Dublin: The Stationery Office, 1931. [A complete list of the copies of Church of Ireland parish registers made by the clergy before depositing their registers in the PRO prior to 1922, pp. 416-420, Family History Library microfilm 990493, item 8.]

12. Ryan, James, compiler. Irish Church Records, Their history, availability and use in family and local history research. Glenageary, Dublin: Flyleaf Press, 1992.

Catholic Records

Catholic Church in Ireland 1.jpg
Catholic parish registers for most rural areas were not kept until the 1820s or later. Records for urban areas started earlier. Each parish kept its own records. 

Catholic parish registers mainly include christening and marriage records. Few registers contain death or burial records. Occasionally a register will contain a parish census. Some Catholic registers are in Latin.

Christenings (Baptisms)

Children were usually christened (baptized) within a few weeks of birth, though some christenings of older children or adults are recorded. Parish registers provide at least the name of the person christened and the christening date. They usually record the name of the father and frequently the first name of the mother. They may also record birth date, legitimacy, father's occupation, and the family's place of residence. In larger cities, registers often provide the family's street address.

Marriages

Catholic marriage records normally provide the date of the marriage, the names of the bride and groom, and the names of the witnesses. Occasionally, places of residence are listed. If the bride and groom are related, the degree of relationship is often given as well.

Burials

These records give the name of the deceased, date of burial and sometimes an occupation or residence (townland). Later years often include the age at death and for children at least one of the names of the parents, usually the father. Burials were restricted for the Catholic clergy and many are to be found in the Church of Ireland. Others are scattered throughout the countryside and may require the Ordinance Survey maps to identify. Prior to 1880, only 214 Irish Catholic parishes recorded burials compared to 1042 that recorded records of baptisms.

Other Catholic Church Records

Payment of Parish Dues

Some parishes will record the payment of parish dues among its parishioners. Sometimes included are receipts for a particular fund-raising effort, usually that of buildings within the parish.

Entry of Converts

These records generally relate to the baptisms of adults and some of the better examples give the date of birth or age of the adult so baptized.
Diocesean Archival Materials

The archive materials contain a certain amount of parish miscellany, usually to do with petitions from parishioners to the dioceses requesting favors. Many of these usually center around the retaining or removal of a particular parish priest. These materials are generally located in the diocesan archives library.

Priests or Nuns

Records relating to the lives of priests and/or nuns in the Catholic church are to be found primarily in two sources. The Irish Catholic Directory (published annually since 1836) and the published list Maynooth Students & Ordinations Index 1795-1982 by Patrick J. Hamell (Maynooth: no date) covering the first 100 years of those who entered the seminary at Maynooth.

Locating Catholic Records

Original parish registers are in local custody. Sometimes a priest will search parish records for you. Names, addresses, and parishes of priests are listed in the Irish Catholic Directory and Diary.

Heritage Centers. Many catholic parish records, some as far back as the 1790's, as well as records of other churches, as well as census records, are being collected in repositories called Heritage Centers. Heritage Centers are part of a country-wide system, the Ireland Family History Foundation, which has begun to digitize millions of the records.  The digitized records are currently available for on-line research at http://www.brsgenealogy.com/ . Persons' names on birth, marriage and other records can be located, but a significant fee is charged to see the full record, which may contain much additional helpful information.

Filmed copies of almost all pre-1880 parish records are held by the National Library of Ireland. Filmed copies of pre-1880 parish registers for Northern Ireland are also kept by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Some of the filmed parish registers at the National Library are restricted. To search these registers, you must have written permission from the priest of the parish or the bishop of the diocese in which the registers were kept.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many Catholic parish registers. These are listed in the catalog under IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS, where [PARISH] is the civil parish in which the Catholic parish is located. Maps showing Catholic parish boundaries for every county in Ireland can be found in:

Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D27gj.)

Selected Bibliography

1. Betit, Kyle J. “Priests, Nuns and Brothers in Ireland.” The Irish at Home and Abroad, 5:2 (1998).

2. Bevan, Amanda and Andrea Duncan. Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office 4th Edition. London: Public Record Office Handbooks No. 19, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1990.

3. Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 volumes. Evanston, Illinois, privately printed, 1962.

4. Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992.

5. Hunter, Dean J. “Irish Collection of the Genealogical Society of Utah.” The Irish Genealogist Vol. 8, No. 4 (1993).

6. McCarthy, Tony. The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1991.

7. Nolan, William. Tracing the Past, Sources for Local Studies in the Republic of Ireland. Dublin: Geography Publications, 1982.

8. Ryan, James. Irish Records, Sources for Family & Local History. 2d edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1997.

9. Ryan, James. Irish Church Records, Their history, availability and use in family and local history research. Glenageary, Dublin: Flyleaf Press, 1992.

10. Wight, Judith Eccles. A Rose by any Other Name, A Guide to Irish Christian Names. Sandy, Utah, privately printed, 1984.

Presbyterian Records

Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1.jpg
In 1605 Scottish Presbyterians began a massive migration into Northern Ireland. Congregations were organized at that time, but only a few congregations, mostly in County Antrim, kept early records. Most congregations started keeping records in the early 1800s.

In the 1700s and early 1800s several groups split off from the Presbyterian church. Seceding, non-subscribing, and reformed congregations were formed in many areas of Northern Ireland. These congregations kept their own records. In 1840 most of these congregations rejoined the main body of Irish Presbyterians. For a discussion and the names of the seceding, non-subscribing, and reformed Presbyterian congregations in Ireland, see the following book:

Stewart, David. The Seceders in Ireland. Belfast, Ireland: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1950. (Family History Library book 941.5 K2ste.)

The following book lists Presbyterian congregations in Ireland and their ministers:

A History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1610-1982. Belfast, Ireland: Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, 1982. (Family History Library book 941.5 K2h.)   A more current list of Presbyterian congregations can be found online at:  http://www.presbyterianireland.org/congregations/index.html .

Records kept by Presbyterian ministers include birth, baptism, and marriage records. These records are similar in content to Church of Ireland records except that mothers' maiden names are often given in the birth and baptism records.

Key Historical Dates

  • 1559 John Knox brings to Scotland the teachings of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther and developed by John Calvin.
  • 1600 Presbyterian ministers are required to swear an oath to the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland. Refusal can result in being refused the right to minister.
  • 1608- Plantation of Ulster. As a result of religious persecution in Scotland,
  • 1610 Scottish emigration to Ireland begins with the settlement of the newly planted counties in Ulster.
  • 1643 Presbyterian Covenant to establish and defend Presbyterianism.
  • 1691 Presbyterian ministers are to have a degree to be ordained to the ministry. Most are educated at the universities in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 1660 Over 100,000 Presbyterians have settled in Ireland.
  • 1690’s The Synod of Ulster and the Synod of Munster are formed near the end of the 17thC.
  • 1708 130 Presbyterian congregations are established throughout Ireland, but predominately in Counties Antrim and Down. Internal disagreements in the Presbyterian Church lead to the establishment of the...
  • 1726 “Non-subscribing” Presbyterians. The Southern Association is formed.
  • 1740’s Emigration to North America by Scots-Irish is significant.
  • 1740’s Major division in the Presbyterian Church resulting in the formation of the “Seceders.” They form their own ecclesiastical council – the Secession Synod.
  • 1744 First Church of Seceders opens near Templepatrick, County Down, Ireland.
  • 1750’s Seceders divide into Burgers and Anti-burghers over the issue of the Burgess Oath in Scotland that would allow them to sit on town councils, but the issue has little relevance in Ireland.
  • 1760’s Reformed Presbyterians or Covenanters split off due to their strict interpretation to uphold the Covenant of 1643. Split leads to “First” and “Second” Presbyterian churches in some areas.
  • 1770’s Another wave of emigration to North America by the Scots-Irish.
  • 1782 Marriages performed by Presbyterian ministers are legalized.
  • 1798 Presbyterians take an active role in the rebellion to free themselves from British control.
  • 1814 Establishment of the Belfast Academical Institute. Most Presbyterian ministers in Ireland are now educated here.
  • 1819 Presbyterian ministers are required to keep a register of baptisms and marriages.
  • 1840 The Synod of Ulster, which was the main governing assembly in Ireland joins the Secession Synod. Together, they form the “General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.”
  • 1844 Marriage Act of 1844 (effective April 1845) legalizes marriages between a member of the Church of Ireland and a Presbyterian. The effect is the start of a formation of a “Protestant alliance.” All Presbyterian marriages are registered in the General Register Office with those of the Church of Ireland.
  • 1850’s Presbyterians in Ireland number 650,000 with 433 congregations.

Baptism Records

These give the name of child, names of parents, usually the mother’s maiden name, date of birth, names of sponsors and the address (townland) of the parents. In the Presbyterian Church, the baptisms did not always closely follow the birth. This may have been due to a lack of diligence on the part of the minister or it may have reflected a lack of money to have the ceremony performed.

Marriage Records

These list the name of the bride and groom, usually at least the father of the bride and sometimes the groom, date of marriage. After 1819, the names of two witnesses and the congregation of residence for the bride and groom were also required. The Presbyterian Church required prior notice of the intended marriage so some record of the event may appear in the Kirk Session Minute book even though the marriage registers may not exist. Although all marriages were to be performed in the church, it was common practice among the Presbyterians to marry in the bride’s home with the payment of a fee to the minister. Marriage in the home may have also generated a Marriage License Bond, the indexes of which still exist. Researchers should also check the Church of Ireland registers prior to 1782 on in instances where a Presbyterian married a member of the Church of Ireland prior to 1845. After the Marriage Act of 1844, marriages were to be performed with “open doors” before a district registrar. The completeness of the marriage records greatly increases.

Burial Records

These usually list only the name of the deceased and sometimes an age are recorded. In the more complete registers you may find the names of parents for a child and/or a townland of residence and occupation. Many Presbyterians are buried in Church of Ireland graveyards since the laws prevented non Church of Ireland conger-gations from maintaining their own graveyards. Prior to the 19th century, dissenting ministers were not allowed to perform burials unless a Church of Ireland rector was present.

Other Presbyterian Church Records

Session Minutes

The session is the presiding council of a Presbyterian congregation. Minutes of session meetings often mention members of the congregation, appointments of committee members, and other items of congregational business. Occasionally records of births, christenings, and marriages are included in the minutes. Most session minutes are in local custody.

Certificates of Transference

These were a testament of the good standing of the person within their community. Often these ended up in the possession of the family and can sometimes be found among family papers in North America, Australia and other parts of the world.

Communicants' Roll Book

There are a number of lists of individuals who received communion at each Sabbath meeting. In some instances, remarks about births, marriages, or deaths may be included.

Locating Presbyterian Records

Presbyterian ministers have custody of original Presbyterian records. See:

Ryan, James G. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1988. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D23r.) This book lists the Presbyterian records in local custody.

The jurisdictions and addresses of local ministers can be found in The Presbyterian Church in Ireland: Directory and Statistics. (Family History Library book 941.5 K24pr.)

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland at http://www.proni.gov.uk/ has microfilm or paper copies of most of the Presbyterian registers for Northern Ireland and for the counties of Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan. For a list of the office's Presbyterian records, see James G. Ryan, ed., Irish Church Records referenced above.  Further, if you get a permission letter from the local minister, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland will make a copy of the film for you for a reasonable cost.  See http://www.proni.gov.uk/index_to_presbyterian_records-2.pdf .  This is only available for Presbyterian parish films at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The Presbyterian Historical Society has copies of some of the Presbyterian and seceding Presbyterian records for Northern Ireland. The society's holdings are not complete. To determine which records the society possesses, contact the society at the following address:

Presbyterian Historical Society
Room 218
Church House
Fisherwick Place
Belfast BT1 6DW
NORTHERN IRELAND
Internet: http://www.presbyterianireland.org/phsi/

The Family History Library also has copies of some Presbyterian records. These are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:

IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH], [TOWN] - CHURCH RECORDS

Selected Bibliography

1. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. An Irish Genealogical Source: Guide to Church Records. Belfast: Public Record Office, Northern Ireland, 1994. [Gives details of the Presbyterian Church records available on microfilm at PRONI.]

2. Durning, Bill and Mary Durning. The Scotch-Irish. La Mesa, California: The Irish Family Names Society, 1991.

3. Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research, 2 volumes, Evanston, Illinois: privately printed, 1962. [Presbyterian Records, Volume 1: 377-411; Presbyterian Congregational Histories, Volume 2: 222-25.]

4. Foster, R. F., editor. The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

5. Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Limited, 1992.

6. Kinealy, Christine. “Presbyterian Church Records.” In Irish Church Records, Their history, availability and use in family and local history research. James G. Ryan, editor. 2d edition, Glenageary, Dublin: Flyleaf Press, 2001. [Chapter 4: 69-105 is an excellent treatment of this subject.]

7. Knox, R. Buick. A History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1610-1982, A Supplement of Additions, Emendations and Corrections. Belfast: Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, 1996.

8. Loughridge, Adam. The Covenanters in Ireland, A History of The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland, 2d edition, 2000; reprint, Belfast, Ireland: Cameron Press, 1987.

9. Maxwell, Ian. Researching Armagh Ancestors, A practical guide for the family and local historian. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000.

10. ——————. Researching Down Ancestors, A practical guide for the family and local historian. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2004.

11. Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland. A History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1610-1982. Belfast: Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, 1982.

12. Roulston, William. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors – The essential genealogical guide to early modern Ulster. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2005.

Methodist Records

In 1746 a Methodist society began in Dublin. The following year, John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, visited Ireland. John Wesley urged his Irish followers to attend the Church of Ireland. Some followed his counsel; others chose to worship with the Quakers or Presbyterians instead.

At the 1816 Methodist conference in Ireland, the presiding body decided that Methodists should be baptized, be married by, and receive communion from their own ministers rather than from ministers of other churches. This proposed change resulted in a schism within the movement. Those who chose to continue affiliating with the Church of Ireland became known as the Primitive Methodists. The Wesleyan Methodists, the larger of the two groups, started their own church, kept their own records, and set up congregations throughout Ireland. Other splinter groups included the New Connexion and the Primitive Methodist Connexion. In 1878 the Primitive Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodists united. The two Connexion groups rejoined the main body in 1932.

Methodist records consist mainly of baptism and marriage records that are similar in content to Church of Ireland records. Occasionally a circuit minute book or vestry book was kept. Since there were few Methodist cemeteries, Methodist death or burial records are rare. Methodists were usually buried in Church of Ireland cemeteries and their burial records kept in Church of Ireland registers.

Locating Methodist Records

Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist records are in local custody. You may obtain information from these records through correspondence with individual ministers. Names, addresses, and jurisdictions of Methodist ministers can be found in the 1992 Minutes of Conference.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has microfilm copies of Methodist records for several congregations in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. James G. Ryan, ed., Irish Church Records lists the Methodist records held by the office and gives their Public Record Office accession numbers.

The New Connexion and Primitive Methodist Connexion groups were administered from England. Their records were kept by various British circuits (districts presided over by travelling ministers). Consequently, pre-1905 New Connexion records and pre-1910 Primitive Methodist Connexion records are held in the Methodist archive at the following address:

The John Rylands University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PP
ENGLAND
Internet: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/

Records for either of the Connexion groups after 1905 and 1910, respectively, are held by individual churches in Ireland.

Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources: Ireland (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D23s) lists Methodist records published in Irish periodicals that are available at the Family History Library.

Other Methodist records available at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under the following headings:

IRELAND - CHURCH RECORDS

IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

Quaker (Society of Friends) Records

In 1654, the Quaker faith (Religious Society of Friends) began in Ireland. Its roots can be found among English soldiers, farmers, and merchants who arrived in Ireland after the English Civil War (1641-1651). These immigrants converted to the new religion from a variety of other nonconforming protestant faiths.

By 1750, there were 150 Quaker meetings across Ireland within the provinces of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster. Meetings for prayer could be held in private homes, barns, or warehouses. A dedicated place for Quaker worship is called a “meeting house”. These were only constructed in locations which served a large enough membership to warrant its construction and expense.

The Quaker faith kept its records separate and apart from those collected by the Church of Ireland or the State. As a result, many of its original records exist and are located in the repositories listed in Section 5.7.


Quaker Monthly Meetings
Quaker records are not kept by parish, but rather by “monthly meetings”. Births, marriages and deaths were recorded at these meetings. Monthly meeting records extend from the late 1600s to the present, with the earliest record from Cork in 1675. Today records exist for 16 Quaker monthly meetings.

In 1860, the Friends agreed abstract their birth, marriage and death records for each monthly meeting. These “monthly meeting registers” were created from the earliest records to 1859. An index, called the “Jones Index”, was later created. It lists if there are birth, marriage or death records for about 2,250 Quaker surnames by the monthly meeting. Those surnames listed in Irish Quaker Registers are listed in Goodbody (1967) and the Jones Index is on film in the Family History Library (film 1559454 item 10).


Quaker Terms and Meeting Maps
An explanation of Quaker terms can be found in Harrison (1997) & (2008), and Berry & Berry (1987). Butler (2004) provides a comprehensive overview of all the Quaker meetings in Ireland. It contains detailed maps of all the meetings by province, while Harrison (1997) & (2008) contains a replica of a 1794 Quaker meeting map.


5.1 Birth Records
Since the Quaker faith does not believe in baptism, birth records are collected. Monthly meeting birth registers contain records up to 1859. They include the name of the child, date of birth, place of birth, name of parents, parents abode, and the book and page of the original record. One must take care when transcribing the date of the birth, since the Quaker registers record the date as year, month, and day. A collection of Quaker birth records throughout Ireland from 1859 to 1949 is also available.


5.2 Marriage Records
Marriages were recorded by monthly meetings, with these events occasionally being recorded in the Provincial or Quarterly Meeting minutes. Monthly meeting marriage registers contain records up to 1859. They include the name, residence, description (occupation), name of parents, parents abode, to whom married, and date of marriage. The book and page of the original record is provided and the date is recorded as year, month, and day. A collection of Quaker marriage records throughout Ireland from 1859 to 1949 is also available.

Each monthly meeting also maintains a collection of marriage certificates. The certificate documents that the ceremony occurred in a public meeting place and describe what efforts were made to publicize the couple’s intention to marry. Quaker marriage certificates also contain a list of witnesses which were present at the ceremony.


5.3 Death Records
Death records are collected in the Quaker faith. Monthly meeting death registers contain records up to 1859. They include the name, date of death, parents, age, residence, description (son or daughter of father and mother), date of burial, and the place of burial. The book and page of the original record is provided and dates are recorded as year, month, and day. A collection of Quaker death records throughout Ireland from 1859 to 1949 is also available.


5.4 Quaker Wills
Like other Quaker records, wills were kept separate and apart from those required by the State, and avoided being destroyed in the Four Courts fire of 1922.  Quaker wills were recorded by the monthly meeting. Eustace & Good body (1957) contains abstracts of 224 Quaker wills, while Goodbody (1967) contains an additional 50 wills. However, the number of records from Ulster is limited.


5.5 Quaker Biographies and Pedigrees
In 1997, Harrison authored A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers. In 2008, he produced a significantly expanded second edition which includes short sketches of about 650 Irish Quakers from the founding of the faith up to current times.

Some monthly meetings and some province or quarterly meetings collect ‘family lists’. In 1927, Thomas Henry Webb donated a collection of Irish Quaker pedigrees to the Dublin Friends Historical Library. The 232 surnames are listed in Ryan (2001). The Webb Collection provides detailed family records, but includes only about 10 percent of the Quaker surnames listed in the Jones Index.


5.6 Other Quaker Records

National Meeting or Half-Yearly Meeting

Records of the Quaker National or Half-Yearly Meeting date from 1671. There are also, early lists of sufferings and testimonies against tithes.

Province or Quarterly Meeting
Records of the provincial or quarterly meetings extend back to 1670 for Leinster, 1674 for Ulster, and 1694 for Munster. Marriages were sometimes recorded within the province or quarterly minute books.


Monthly Meeting
Each monthly meeting attempted to create a record of its actions. Minute books were kept for both the men’s and women’s meetings, with most church matters appearing in the men’s meeting minutes.


Certificates of Removal
A unique type of Quaker record is the “Certificate of Removal”. Many monthly meetings organized these certificates in a separate register. They served a traveling Quaker much like a passport, and would be presented upon arriving at a new meeting. The certificate noted that the holder was debt free, his or her marital status, and that they were a member in good standing at that monthly meeting. When not organized separately, these certificates were recorded as a part of monthly meeting minutes.


Quaker Suffering Records
Throughout its early history, the Quaker faith has been forced to endure a number of injustices. These included imprisonment, corporal punishment, the paying of fines, and the collection of goods for not tithing to the Church of Ireland. As a result, Quakers began to records the types and severity of these injustices by monthly meetings. Later these were printed in a series of suffering books.

Although difficult to locate, these texts can provide a wealth of information about a Quaker’s location (by parish or townland), occupation, and their relative income (wealth) based on the size of their tithe. A majority of sufferings records were for failing to tithe.

  • Holme, Thomas and Fuller, Abraham. ABrief Relation of Some Part of the Sufferings of the True Christians, the People of God, in scorn called Quakers, in Ireland, for these last Eleven Years, viz, from 1660 until 1671. Dublin. 1672.
  • Stockdale, William. The Great Cry of Oppression: or a brief relation of some part of the sufferings of the people of God in scorn called Quakers, in Ireland, for these eleven years, viz from the beginning of 1671 until the end of 1681. Dublin. 1683.
  • Fuller, Samuel. A Compendious View of Some Extraordinary Sufferings of the People Call’d Quakers. Dublin. 1731.
  • Wight, Thomas and Rutty, John. A History of the Rise and Progress of the People called the Quakers in Ireland 1653-1750. Dublin. 1751.
  • Besse, Joseph. ACollection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers. London. 1753.


5.7 Locating Quaker Records
The Dublin Friends Historical Library was created in 1908. It preserves the books, documents and other artifacts of the Quaker faith. In 2005, the library moved to a state-of-the-art facility in the south Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham.

In its collection are the original records for the national/half-yearly meetings, all the monthly meetings within Leinster and Munster, and these province/quarterly meeting minutes. It also maintains microfilm copies of the Ulster Province/Quarterly Meeting minutes and all of its monthly meetings.

Microfilm copies of the National/Half-Yearly Meetings, all the monthly meeting registers, the province or quarterly meeting minutes, and Quaker vital records from 1859 to 1949 are available at the National Library and National Archives of Ireland, both in Dublin.


Dublin Friends Historical Library
Religious Society of Friends in Ireland
Quaker House
Stocking Lane
Rathfarnham
Dublin 16
IRELAND (EIRE)
Internet: http://www.quakers-in-ireland.ie/archive/indexarc.htm


Records for the Ulster Province or Quarterly Meeting and all of its monthly meetings are located on the campus of the Quaker School in Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Microfilm copies of the Ulster Province or Quarterly Meeting minutes, and the monthly meeting registers within Ulster, are available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Belfast.


Religious Society of Friends
Ulster Quarterly Meeting Archives Committee
4 Magheralave Road
Lisburn
BT28 3BD
NORTHERN IRELAND
Internet: http://www.quakers-in-ireland.org


5.8 Selected Bibliography
Butler, David M. The Quaker Meeting Houses of Ireland. Historical Committee of Friends in Ireland. Kelso Graphics, Scotland, UK. 2004.
Eustace, P. Beryl & Goodbody, Olive C. Quaker Records Dublin - Abstract of Wills. (2 Vols, 1704-1785) Irish Manuscript Commission, Dublin, IRE. 1957. Reprint - Clearfield Company, Baltimore, MD. 1992.
Goodbody, Olive C. Guide to Irish Quaker Records 1654-1860, with contribution on Northern Ireland records by B.G. Hutton. Irish Manuscript Commission, Dublin, IRE. 1967.
Harrison, Richard S. A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers. Four Courts Press, Dublin, IRE. 1997.
Harrison, Richard S. A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers. 2nd Edition. Four Courts Press, Dublin, IRE. 2008.
Ryan, James G. Irish Church Records. 2nd Edition. Flyleaf Press, Dublin, IRE. 2001.
Wigham, Maurice J. The Irish Quakers – A Short History of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland. 2nd Edition. Historical Committee of Friends in Ireland, Dublin, IRE. 2003.

Irish Quakers to America
Berry, Ellen T. & Berry, David A. Our Quaker Ancestors - Finding Them in Quaker Records. Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, MD. 1987.
Myers, Albert Cook. Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania 1682-1750; With Their Early History in Ireland. Swarthmore, PA. 1902 --- Reprint, Heritage Books, Westminster, MD. 2006 & 2009.
Myers, Albert Cook. Quaker Arrivals at Philadelphia, 1682-1750: Being a List of Certificates of Removal Received at Philadelphia Monthly Meeting of Friends. Swarthmore, PA. 1902. --- Reprint, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, MD. 2007.


Around 1653 Quakers emigrated from England to Ireland. If you are not sure your ancestors were Quakers, consult the list of chief Irish Quaker surnames found in the appendix in:

Harrison, Richard S. A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers. (FHL book 941.5 D36hr.)

Quakers held both weekly and monthly meetings. Births, marriages, and deaths were reported in the monthly meetings. Around 1655 Quakers began keeping records of their meetings. Irish Quaker records are held in two regional Quaker repositories: the Dublin Friends Historical Library and the Religious Society of Friends. The Dublin Friends Historical Library only has records for the Republic of Ireland. The Religious Society of Friends, Ulster Quarterly Meeting mainly has records for Northern Ireland. Both repositories contain minutes of meetings; birth, marriage, and death records; diaries; pedigrees; wills; and other records. The address is:

Dublin Friends Historical Library
Religious Society of Friends in Ireland
Quaker House
Stocking Lane
Rathfarnham
Dublin 16
IRELAND (EIRE)
Internet: http://www.quakers-in-ireland.ie/archive/indexarc.htm
Religious Society of Friends
Ulster Quarterly Meeting Archives Committee
4 Magheralave Road
Lisburn
BT28 3BD
NORTHERN IRELAND
Internet: http://www.quakers-in-ireland.org/

The National Library of Ireland in Dublin and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland have microfilm copies of some Quaker records. The Family History Library also has microfilm copies of some Quaker records. These are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under the following headings:

IRELAND - CHURCH RECORDS

IRELAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS

IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH], [TOWN] - CHURCH RECORDS

Jewish Records

Ireland has only a few Jewish synagogues. Jewish records have been deposited in the Irish Jewish Museum. The museum contains records from synagogues and from Jewish communal institutions. These records include registrations of births, marriages, and deaths. For more information about these records, write the museum at the following address:

Irish Jewish Museum
3/4 Walworth Road
South Circular Road
Dublin 8
IRELAND (EIRE)
Internet: http://www.eecs.tufts.edu/~zblocker/ijm/

The Family History Library does not have any Jewish records for Ireland.

Other Churches

Many other denominations have established churches or congregations in Ireland. In the mid-1600s Congregationalists and Baptists first came to Ireland as soldiers under Cromwell. Huguenots, seeking religious freedom, also came in the 1600s. Most Huguenots affiliated themselves with the Church of Ireland or with the Presbyterian Church. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established branches in Ireland by 1850.

Records of other churches are primarily in local custody (except for Latter-day Saint records, which are mainly in Salt Lake City, Utah). Huguenot church records have been published in:

The Publications of the Huguenot Society of London. N.p.: Huguenot Society of London, 18--. (Family History Library book 942.1/L1 B4h.)

Copies of records for other churches can be found at the Family History Library. These are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:

IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

Locating Church Records

Church records are in local custody. Many church records have also been filmed or photocopied and the originals or copies stored in repositories.

Hayes's Sources can be used to determine if and where church records were deposited before 1977. Look in the subject indexes of:

Hayes, Richard J. Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 A5h.) Look under the headings "Parish Registers" and "Vestry Books" for Church of Ireland records, and look by denomination (Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.) for other churches' records. In the place indexes, look for church records by county and then town, city, or parish.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has published:

An Irish Genealogical Source: Guide to Church Records. Belfast, Ireland: Ulster Historical Foundation on behalf of PRONI, 1994. (Family History Library book 941.6 K23.) This is a guide to locating church records in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. It also indicates which records are still in local custody.

The descriptive catalog of holdings of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland details that archives' holdings of church records. The Family History Library has a filmed copy of the descriptive catalog. The sections describing church records are found on films 1701904-5; 1701989; 1736433 items 5-9; 1736434 items 1-2.

The appendices in James G. Ryan, ed., Irish Church Records give some names and addresses of church record archives. The appendices also provide details about Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, and Methodist records held in local custody or deposited in national archives.

Local heritage or genealogical centres throughout Ireland are currently indexing church records. To determine if a centre has indexed the records you need, consult:

Irish Family History Society. Directory of Parish Registers Indexed in Ireland. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 K23dp.)

Additional church records have been indexed since the directory was published. Contact the appropriate centre for more current information and to determine the fees charged for searching and copying index entries.

To see if the church records you need are available at the Family History Library, check the library catalog. To identify transcripts or abstracts of church records found in Irish genealogical periodicals available at the Family History Library, consult Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources: Ireland.

Search Strategies

As you or your agent search church records, use the following strategies:

    • Search all parish registers and other available church records of the appropriate locality for the time period you are researching.
    • Search surrounding localities if you cannot find records in the expected locality.
    • Note all entries, including burials, for the surname you are searching (unless the name is very common).
    • Note gaps or missing pages in the record. You may want to search alternative records for the missing time periods.
    • If you find little or no mention of your family in parish records, search other records.
    • Use the additional information (residence, occupation, etc.) given in parish registers to find other records to search.

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