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PARISH AND CHURCH REGISTERS OF BAPTISMS, MARRIAGES AND BURIALS:

Registers are kept locally in churches unless otherwise stated. The National Archives of Ireland (NAI), Dublin and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Belfast have copying schemes in progress for registers. Church of Ireland registers were of printed format to encourage consistent record keeping. However, not all the columns were filled in. Irish Genealogical Centres have indexed the majority of these church records up to 1920 and work is continuing in counties Dublin, Cork and others.

Baptism registers give the name of the child, the date of the baptism, the date of birth, the name of the father, the maiden name of the mother and the townland address where they lived. Occasionally the father?s occupation is given. The least complete entry only records the name of the child, the name of the father and the date baptised.

From 1845 marriage registers are the same as the civil registers and contain the date of the marriage, the names of the bride and groom, their ages (full sometimes if over 21 years of age), both fathers? names with their occupations, and the townland where each of the bride and groom lived. Pre-1845 marriage registers are not as detailed and rarely list the names of the fathers of the bride and groom.

Burial registers usually list the name of the deceased, date of death or burial, age and place of residence.

Church Of Ireland:

The clergy of the established Church of Ireland (Episcopalian) were not required by canon law to keep parish registers until 1634. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, there was considerable laxity in keeping of registers and many were lost over the years. The archivists in the then recently established Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) took the initiative of having registers of the disestablished Church of Ireland declared public records in the Parochial Records Act (Ireland 1875-6).

The Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1870. All pre-1871 baptismal and burial registers and all marriage registers before 31 March 1845 (civil registration of Protestant and Jewish marriages became obligatory on 1 April 1845) were declared public records.

For over 1,000 parishes where secure storage for records was not available, these early registers were transferred to the Record Office under warrant. The deposit of these registers in the National Archives took place over a period of some 20 years from 1875 with the result for some parishes, baptismal and burial registers up to about 1890 were deposited and only up to about 1870 for others. The cut-off date for marriage registers required for deposit was 1845.

637 parishes were wealthy enough to install a safe in their parish vestries and these parishes were permitted to retain or withdraw their registers into their own custody. This proved to be a providential move because in June 1922, virtually all of the deposited Church of Ireland registers and many vital records of all Ireland were destroyed in an explosion and fire in the Four Courts building in Dublin.

Over the past 70 years, the NAI and PRONI have been making transcripts or photocopies of the surviving Church of Ireland registers. In Belfast in the 1950s and early 1960s photostat copies were taken of registers and since then microfilm copies.

The NAI has microfilm registers for the diocese of Cashel, Cloyne, Cork, Limerick (including an adjoining diocese), Lismore, Waterford and Ross; in Connaught the archdiocese of Tuam including Achonry and Killala and in Leinster the dioceses of Ferns, Glendalough, Kildare and Meath. They have now filmed the diocese of Dublin.

In the province of Ulster, including the border counties of Cavan, Donegal, Monaghan and Louth, most of the pre-1900 Church of Ireland registers surviving locally have now been copied by PRONI. There are nearly 400 parishes in the province of Ulster and for about 125 of these parishes, registers survive from before 1800 and 12 parishes have registers starting before 1700.

It is significant that the bulk of these early registers are for parishes in the Lagan Valley from Belfast south east towards Lurgan, an area of heavy English settlement in the 17th century. However, there are gaps in even the earliest of these registers, such as those for the parish of Blaris (Lisburn) which survive from 1641. For this parish, baptisms and burials 1751-63, and burials 1779-1820 are missing.

For the city of Dublin, Church of Ireland registers survive from an exceptionally early period and many of these registers have been published by the Parish Register Society of Ireland in the early years of this century. The only Ulster parish included in this series is the parish of Templemore, Co. Derry, for which there are baptismal and burial registers from 1642 and marriage registers from 1649.

In counties Clare, Leitrim, Sligo, Kildare and Meath all pre-1900 Church of Ireland registers have been indexed by the Irish Genealogical Project centres and most other counties in the Republic have now been completed except for counties Cork, Dublin and perhaps one or two others.

Positive copies of registers microfilmed by PRONI have been presented to the Representative Church Body Library, Braemor Park, Churchtown, Dublin. This library also has custody of the original registers for some 400 Church of Ireland parishes, many of which are now defunct. PRONI and the UHF published a listing of all parish registers and their whereabouts in 1994. Guide to Church Records: an Irish Genealogical Source gives the dates of registers for all known church parish registers in the province of Ulster, counties Leitrim and Louth and includes the PRONI reference numbers. Guide to Church Records is available for purchase from the UHF (now out of print).

In PRONI microfilm copies are found under MIC1. Original records registers for 35 parishes have been deposited in PRONI, reference CR1 and photostat copies under T.679. In the case of a few parishes where the early registers were destroyed, some duplicates are available in collections of Bishops? Transcripts, once retained in diocesan offices but now deposited in PRONI. For the diocese of Down, Connor and Dromore there are transcripts for 11 parishes and also transcripts for two parishes in the diocese of Clogher.

3.2 Parish Vestry Minute Books (Church of Ireland):

Occasionally where pre-1870 registers were destroyed in the PROI, vestry minute books have survived in local custody. For 60 of the 400 parishes in the province of Ulster, these date from before 1800. Vestry minutes sometimes include records of private baptisms and publication of banns of marriage (Ardstraw), a census of the whole community in 1802 (Ballintoy, county Antrim and Faughanvale, county Londonderry 1803) or long lists of names of tithe and parish cess payers in the 18th century (Templemore, county Londonderry).

These vestry minutes regularly include lists of badged poor to whom relief was granted. The vestry minute books for most of the Northern Ireland counties have been filmed and are available in PRONI.

People whose ancestors were Presbyterian or Roman Catholic should not ignore Church of Ireland registers and vestry minute books as a possible source of information. The parish vestry was the smallest unit of the local administration and could include dissenters, and poor relief was given to those in need from all sections of the community regardless of religion.

Because of the penal enactments against those who refused to conform to the Established Church 1704-1782, many Protestant dissenters found it necessary to have their baptisms and marriages registered in the local Church of Ireland (Anglican) parish and Church of Ireland graveyards, which sometimes dated from before the Reformation (Magheraculmoney, Co. Fermanagh), were often the place of burial for the whole community including Roman Catholics until late in the 19th century. For a long time Presbyterians could only have graveyards within the curtilage of their own churches.

Even in the rapidly growing city of Belfast in the 19th century, there was no separate Presbyterian graveyard until 1854. Shankill and Friar?s Bush graveyards, the oldest in Belfast, served the whole community. In some Church of Ireland burial registers, for example in the parish of Magherafelt, Co. Derry, half of the entries in the 18th century were for Presbyterians.

Where marriage registers are lacking for a parish, it may be worth making a search in the index to marriage licence bonds for the appropriate dioceses. If one or both of the partners to be married were not known personally to a minister, a bond had to be issued by the diocesan authorities declaring that there was no impediment to the marriage. The indexes to these bonds survived destruction in 1922 and these indexes give dates of birth and the maiden names of wives. Copies are available in PRONI (MIC6B).

Couples usually married in the bride?s parish. Permission to marry was obtained by either banns or by license. Banns meant that the minister announced their intention to marry, on three consecutive Sundays to allow objections to the marriage to be made or impediments to be investigated. This could be bypassed by obtaining a special license. This meant an application to the proper church authority, the bishop of the diocese. Most of these Irish allegations, bonds and licenses have been destroyed. Some abstracts and indexes for various dioceses survive.

In Australia, United States, and Canada, look for Ireland ? Church Records at your nearest Mormon Family History Library. To find Church of Ireland records at the Family History Library, consult the locality section of the catalogue under Ireland, [county], [parish], church records. Films can be ordered in and the cost is quite reasonable. The staff on duty in the Family History Libraries are most helpful.

CHURCH OF IRELAND (CI) PARISH: In most cases, the CI parish is identical with the Civil Parish and has the same name. This makes pre-1858 wills indexes easier to identify with a locality (and individual) whether the will or only an abstract survives. It is worth noting here that in county Cork, four civil parishes have the same name. There are two each named Cullen, Donaghamore, Kilmeen and Kilquane. County Cork has 253 civil parishes; this is more than 10% of all the civil parishes in the 32 counties of Ireland.

CATHOLIC PARISH: Unlike Church of Ireland parishes, most Catholic parishes do not conform to the boundaries of the civil parish, and will often not have the same name as the civil parish they comprise. A single Catholic parish may include more than one civil parish, and one civil parish may cover several different Catholic parishes. The creation of new Catholic parishes in the 19th century means that the registers relevant to a particular area of your research may be split between two parishes.

CHURCH OF IRELAND DIOCESE: e.g. in county Kerry the Diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe is an amalgamation of two ancient dioceses of which Aghadoe administered the south of county Kerry. Historical records organised by diocese always include these two dioceses together. The diocese includes most of county Kerry except for the parish of Kilcaskan in Glenarought barony, which is in the Diocese of Ross.

CATHOLIC DIOCESE: e.g. in county Kerry the Catholic Diocese of Kerry includes almost the whole of county Kerry except for a single townland in the parish of Tarbert (Kilmurrily) and also includes parts of county Cork. Refer to the table "Counties of Ireland and Their Diocesan Jurisdictions" below.

COUNTIES OF IRELAND AND THEIR DIOCESAN JURISDICTION:

County Dioceses

Antrim

Connor, Derry, Down, Dromore

Armagh

Armagh, Dromore

Carlow

Leighlin

Cavan

Ardagh, Meath, Kilmore

Clare

Killaloe, Kilfenora, Limerick

Cork

Cork, Ross, Cloyne, Ardfert

Derry

Armagh, Connor, Derry

Donegal

Clogher, Derry, Raphoe

Down

Connor, Down, Dromore

Dublin

Dublin

Fermanagh

Clogher, Kilmore

Galway

Clonfert, Elphin, Killaloe, Tuam

Kerry

Ardfert & Aghadoe

Kildare

Dublin, Kildare

Kilkenny

Leighlin, Ossory

Laois (Queen?s)

Dublin, Kildare, Leighlin, Ossory

Leitrim

Ardagh, Kilmore

Limerick

Cashel, Emly, Killaloe, Limerick

Longford

Armagh, Meath

Louth

Armagh, Clogher

Mayo

Killala, Achonry, Tuam

Meath

Armagh, Kildare, Kilmore, Meath

Monaghan

Clogher

Offaly (King?s)

Clonfert, Kildare, Killaloe, Meath, Ossory

Roscommon

Ardagh, Clonfert, Elphin, Tuam

Sligo

Ardagh, Elphin, Killala

Tipperary

Casel, Killaloe, Waterford & Lismore

Tyrone

Armagh, Clogher, Derry

Waterford

Waterford & Lismore

Westmeath

Ardagh, Meath

Wexford

Dublin, Ferns

Wicklow

Dublin, Ferns, Leighlin

Roman Catholic Church:

Registers kept in Roman Catholic parishes in the whole of Ireland were microfilmed up to the year 1880, by the National Library of Ireland (Dublin), in the 1950s and 1960s. Copies of these microfilms for all northern dioceses covering the nine counties of Ulster and county Louth are available to researchers in PRONI. All Roman Catholic parish registers which have been filmed, are available in the National Library, Dublin. Access to some parish registers is ?restricted? (see below).

For some dioceses in the Republic of Ireland, Cloyne, Kerry and Limerick it is necessary to get permission of the Bishop and/or the Parish Priest before access can be given to the microfilms at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. It is suggested that you write to the National Library of Ireland and ask about permission to access Catholic registers on microfilm at least two months before visiting Ireland. This will give time to obtain permission before departing from Australia should the registers you seek be ?restricted access?.

Many of these registers are in bad physical condition and entries, which are usually in Latin, were not recorded regularly. Many of the register pages filmed have a mirror copy of ink from the opposite facing page of the register, making the films hard to read. Access has not been helped by the irregular manner of filming, registers for up to six parishes being included on a single reel. The original records of each parish are held in local custody by the parish priest.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Armagh has indexed all the parishes of the Archdiocese which stretches from Drogheda (about 50 kms. north of Dublin city) up to Magherafelt in the southern part of Co. Londonderry. Registers of baptisms and marriages have been completed but the indexes have been given to the Irish Genealogical Centres for the counties in which the parishes are situated.

Catholic registers for Dublin parishes only survive from the early 18th century and for Cork, Galway and Waterford from the middle of the 18th century. The earliest registers surviving for a Catholic parish are for Wexford where they date from about 1670 and these have been indexed.

Catholic registers for county Cork published in "O?Kief, Coshe Mang" by Dr. Albert E. Casey published in Alabama USA and available at several locations throughout Australia are as follows:

Ballyvourney Parish, Cloyne Diocese Baptisms 1810-1895,

Marriages 1871-1895

Drishane Parish, Kerry Diocese Baptisms 1853-1880

Marriages 1855-1880

Dromtarriff Parish, Kerry Diocese Baptisms 1832-1880

Marriages 1832-1880

Iveleary Parish, Cork Diocese Baptisms 1816-1880

Marriages 1816-1880

Kilmeen Parish, Kerry Diocese Baptisms 1833-1880

Marriages 1843-1880

Macroom Parish, Cloyne Diocese Baptisms 1803-1899 (incomplete)

Marriages1780-1898 (incomplete).

.In general in the province of Ulster, Catholic registers only survive from about 1830. For Belfast there are Catholic registers from 1798 (with very limited information until c.1825) and for Strabane in West Tyrone from the 1770s but with major gaps in the series (PRONI, MIC1D, CR2).

Catholic parish boundaries were subject to change over the years and few parishes, if any, have not changed boundaries this century or last century.

One of the most important collections held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is of church records. Of particular interest are the registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. These can be identified by using the "Guide to Church Records" published in 1994 by the Ulster Historical Foundation (out of print). A copy is in many family history libraries throughout Australia.

Roman Catholic registers were not kept as systematically as those of the Church of Ireland and few have survived for the period before 1800. Most commence around 1830 for the province of Ulster. The quality of records themselves vary from church to church. For example, Catholic baptismal records usually include the following information:

the date of the event, and sometimes the date of birth,

the child?s name,

the father?s name,

the mother?s maiden name,

the name of Godparents, and

the residence (townland) of the parents.

 

Catholic marriage records usually include the following:

the date of the marriage,

the names of the groom and the bride,

their ages (sometimes full if over 21 years of age),

both fathers? names and their occupations, and

the townland address of the groom and the bride at that time. Pre-1845 registers are not as detailed and generally do not list the names of the fathers.

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