It was required in 1634 that in every parish church or chapel within this realm shall be provided one parchment book at the charge of the parish wherein shall be written the day and the year of every christening and burial. Consequently a number of Church of Ireland parish registers date from the seventeenth century.
The Irish Church Act 1869 led to the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland with effect from the 1st January 1871.
The Parochial Records Acts 1875 and 1876 stipulated that the records of the Church of Ireland constituted public records and as such were to be handed over to the Public Records Office. However, where an adequate place of storage was available locally they were allowed to remain in local custody.
In 1922 the pre-1871 records of 1006 parishes were destroyed by fire in the Public Records Office. The records of 637 parishes which were in the custody of the local clergy survived.
The Appendix to the 14th Report of the Assistant Deputy Keeper, 1881-83 has a Table of Parochial Records in the Public Records Office and the appendix to the 28th Report of the Deputy Keeper has a list of records in local custody. The appendices to the 56th, 57th. and 58th. Reports of the Deputy Keeper, have details of the surviving parish registers and of transcripts of destroyed parish registers.
The Public Records Office in Belfast has much material.
An up to date list of the surviving registers specifying their whereabouts, is available in the reading room of the National Archives (formerly known as the Public Records Office).
Many Church of Ireland parish registers relating to Dublin were published prior to 1922. They cover the period from 1619 to 1825. In pre-famine Ireland, it was common for all Christian denominations to be buried in the same graveyard, thus the burial registers of the Church of Ireland will list members of other denominations.
The parishes of the Church of Ireland generally coincide with the civil parishes and there should be no difficulties as to location.
The information available in the Church of Ireland parish registers varies, as follows :
Date of Baptism
Names of Father
Name of Mother (sometimes)
Occupation of Father
Residence of parents
Names of parties
Residence of parties
Burial entries :
Date of death
The Representative Church Body Library in Dublin holds the Church of Ireland archives and over the years has done a great deal of work to repair the loss of parish registers in 1922.
Original pre-1870 parish registers (though still public records) which were retained in local custody have been collected here. Transcripts of the parish registers in the National Archives have been made and are here, together with transcripts made prior to 1922 by Tenison Groves. The library has on microfilm, records in other repositories.
The Irish Genealogist (1982-) published biennially is a guide to the parish registers in this library.
Given the difficulties of access in relation to civil records and the fact that Church of Ireland parish registers should be intact from 1871 for all areas, consideration should be given to visiting the parish you are interested in and obtaining permission to examine the actual registers.
The Irish Church Directory (issued annually) gives the names and addresses of all Church of Ireland clergy.
A letter or telephone call to the clergy could prove very worthwhile.
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