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Getting started with Northern Ireland research

Researching in Northern Ireland is NOT the same as researching in the Republic of Ireland for the following reasons:

  1. Although originally Catholic, over time what now constitutes Northern Ireland became predominately a Protestant country.
  2. The majority of records are based on English law since it became a part of the United Kingdom.
  3. Many of the original records have been destroyed in the various conflicts that culminated in the 1921 "troubles", but copies of some records do exist
  4. Therefore a knowledge of history of this area and the potential records that could be found is essential

General Information About Northern Ireland

The Province of Ulster

Ulster in one of the historic provinces of Ireland. It consists of nine counties, six of which are in Northern Ireland and three in the Republic of Ireland.


The main records of value to family historians and genealogists are:

  • Census (some)
  • Civil Registration
  • Church Records
  • Court Records
  • Electoral Records
  • Emigration Records
  • Landed Estate Records
  • Local Government Records
  • Military Records
  • Poor Law Records
  • School Records
  • Valuation and Tithe Records
  • Wills and Testamentary Records

A Turbulent History Destroyed Many Records - Records of Ulster ancestors have been lost due to the consistent warfare that occurred in all parts of the island of Ireland. Other countries in the United Kingdom have a more consistent set of records with less loss.

The following lists record types that could be available in some way:

  • Census
  • Census Substitutes
  • Church
  • Valuation
  • Estate
  • Tithe Applotment Books
  • Landed Estate
  • Registry of Deeds
  • Wills and other Testamentary Records
  • Various Printed Sources
  • Emigration
  • Poor Law
  • Local Authority Sources
  • Ordnance Survey Maps and Memoirs
  • Electoral Records
  • Solicitors Records
  • Business Records
  • Crown Records
  • Militia, Yeomanry, and Irish Royal Constabulary

Web Sites

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Featured Content

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The will calendars,1858 to about 1900, are online as part of the first phase of a project to index and digitise all the early wills proved in the District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry. It provides a fully searchable index to the will calendar entries for these 3 District Probate Registries with the facility to view the entire will calendar entry for each successful search. Read more...


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