CHURCH RECORDS

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ULSTER ANCESTORS -

Prior to 1864, the only source for births, mar­riages and deaths in Ul­ster are parish reg­is­ters. The pop­u­la­tion of Ul­ster was made up of Angli­can, Pres­by­te­rian, Methodist and Ro­man Catholic com­mu­ni­ties. It is im­por­tant to iden­tify your fam­ily re­li­gion be­fore you start your search (see Top Tip).

Some Methodist and Pres­by­te­rian con­gre­ga­tions used their lo­cal Church of Ire­land for bap­tisms and mar­riages, so make sure you in­clude those reg­is­ters in your search. Methodist and Pres­by­te­rian con­gre­ga­tions were not or­gan­ised by parish. The con­gre­ga­tion that your an­ces­tor at­tended may have been in a neigh­bour­ing parish. The 1837 Ord­nance Sur­vey of Ire­land maps found at osi.ie il­lus­trate the lo­ca­tion of churches and meet­ing houses and parish bound­aries and are a great way to iden­tify the church most lo­cal to your an­ces­tor’s ad­dress.

Parish reg­is­ters are hand-writ­ten and can be dif­fi­cult to read. Protes­tant con­gre­ga­tions usu­ally didn’t record the mother’s maiden name at bap­tism whereas Ro­man Catholic reg­is­ters did.

There is an ex­cel­lent guide to church records pub­lished on­line by PRONI ( www. proni.gov.uk/guide_­to_church_ records.pdf), which de­scribes the types of records gen­er­ated by each de­nom­i­na­tion and lists sur­viv­ing reg­is­ters for each parish. The ma­jor­ity of Ro­man Catholic and Church of Ire­land records are avail­able on­line as tran­scripts at root­sire­land.ie but check their source list to make sure they have the records you want. Many Pres­by­te­rian and Methodist records are only avail­able on mi­cro­film at PRONI. Ro­man Catholic parish reg­is­ters for Ul­ster can also be freely viewed on­line at the Na­tional Li­brary of Ire­land ( reg­is­ters.nli.ie).

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