Church Records


The Different Parish Systems in Ireland

Since the coming of the Reformation to Ireland in the 16th century, there have been two parish structures throughout the country. In general, the Church of Ireland retained the older medieval parochial divisions, and, as this was the state Church, they were also used for administrative purposes by the secular authorities. Therefore civil parish boundaries were used as the basic geographical unit in census records, valuation surveys such as Griffith's Valuation, land surveys and tax records.

However, the Catholic Church was weakened by British Protestant rule. Many of the Catholic church's assets were confiscated and many restrictions were placed on its clergy. The result of this domination meant that the Catholic church had to create larger and less convenient parishes.


Roman Catholic Records

Before Civil registrations of Roman Catholic births, deaths and marriages began in Ireland in 1864, the only direct sources of family information for the vast majority of the population are the local parish records. However, because of the oppression suffered by the Catholic Church between the 16th and 19th centuries, record-keeping by the clergy was difficult. Very few registers survive before the latter half of the eighteenth century and for many Catholic parishes the earliest surviving records date from the early to mid 19th century.

Nature of Catholic Church Records

Catholic registers consist mostly of baptismal and marriage records. The keeping of burial records is not common in Catholic registers compared to the Church of Ireland. The recording of Catholic baptism and marriages could be either entered in English or Latin but never in Irish. Generally, in more prosperous areas, such as cities and large towns, English was more common, while in the more rural Irish-speaking parishes Latin was used.

Baptismal Records

Catholic baptismal registers mostly contain the following information:

  • date of baptism;
  • child's name;
  • father's name;
  • mother's maiden name;
  • names of sponsors or godparents.
  • Marriage Records

    The information recorded in Catholic marriage records would depend on each parish, but they always included at least the following:

  • date of marriage;
  • Groom's name;
  • Bride's name;
  • names of witnesses.
  • MY IRISH ANCESTORS FREE GENEALOGY ASSESSMENT

    If you need advice from one of our genealogy research team send a message and we will be happy to help. click HERE for more information

    OUR PRELIMINARY RESEARCH IS NOW REDUCED

    My Irish Ancestors have reduced our Preliminary Research by 65%

    Was £130 Now £49.99 CLICK HERE for more information


    Church of Ireland Records

    Records of the Established or State Church, the Church of Ireland, generally start long before those of the Catholic Church. From as early as the 1630's, local parishes were required to keep records of baptisms, marriages and burials in registers supplied by the church authorities. As a result, a significant number, especially in urban areas, have registers dating form the mid 17th century. The majority, however, commence between 1770 and 1820.

    Nature of Church of Ireland Records

    Unlike their Catholic counterparts, the majority of Church of Ireland Clergymen recorded burials as well as baptisms and marriages. The information given for burials was rarely more than one line in the registry, giving name, age and townland. However, early burials would contain information of those born before the start of the register, they can be the only evidence on which to base a picture of preceding generations, and are particularly valuable because of this.

    Baptismal Records

    Church of Ireland baptismal registers mostly contain the following information:

  • date of baptism;
  • child's name;
  • father's name;
  • mother's Christian name;
  • name of the officiating clergyman.
  • Presbyterian Church Records

    In general, Presbyterian records started much later than those of the Church of Ireland. However, early records of Presbyterian baptisms, marriages and deaths are often found in the registers of the local Church of Ireland. On the other hand, in the north eastern counties of Ireland, where there was a strong influx of Scottish Presbyterians during the Plantation, some registers date from the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

    Nature of Presbyterian Records

    In the majority of Presbyterian registers, the information given for baptisms, marriages and burials mirror those of the Church of Ireland. Since 1845, all non-Catholic marriages were registered by the state and from that year, Presbyterian marriage entries contain all of the invaluable information given in state records.

     

    Major Sources of Irish Ancestry

    Church Records Land Records Directories
    Registry of Deeds Wills Emigration Records
    Newspapers

    Genealogy Sources for each Irish County

    Antrim Armagh Carlow Cavan
    Clare Cork Derry (Londonderry) Donegal
    Down Dublin Fermanagh Galway
    Kerry Kildare Kilkenny Laois
    Leitrim Limerick Longford Louth
    Mayo Meath Monaghan Offaly
    Roscommon Sligo Tipperary Tyrone
    Waterford Westmeath Wexford Wicklow

    MY IRISH ANCESTORS FREE GENEALOGY ASSESSMENT

    If you need advice from one of our genealogy research team send a message and we will be happy to help. click HERE for more information

    OUR PRELIMINARY RESEARCH IS NOW REDUCED

    My Irish Ancestors have reduced our Preliminary Research by 65%

    Was £130 Now £49.99 CLICK HERE for more information