Showing posts with label family tree. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family tree. Show all posts

29 April 2010


   Hello from the National Genealogy Conference in Salt Lake City! I am learning a ton about Irish genealogy sources and will share in this blog in the coming weeks what I am learning here.  But I could not wait to blog about one OUTRAGEOUS source for Irish family historians that I learned about this afternoon at a workshop by David Rencher: the OUTRAGE PAPERS. These papers were compilations of  local offenses and crimes committed by the "unruly" Irish natives. The reports were collected and then sent daily to the Chief Secretary of Ireland. Not only did the papers help the British government to keep an eye on crime, but, more importantly for the British rulers, the reports helped them to identify potential uprisings or areas of political agitation.
   The good news for Irish family historians is that these papers covered the whole of Ireland and have survived the misfortunes that other Irish records have suffered. Timewise, they cover the first half of the 1800's.
   Now, don't put your nose in the air and claim your ancestors could never have been named in a criminal report! Don't forget that many of the "crimes" of that period were often considered acts of Irish patriotism by the native Irish. Other "crimes" were offenses commited by desperate poor and hungry persons. Some of the "crimes" reported in the Outrage Papers were quite peculiar, such as a woman eloping with a servant! Others include stealing sheep, assaulting a "better," or attacking the "big house." Prison riots were noted, as were the common murders, assaults, and thefts.
   These papers are fulll of details about the offenses. Names and locations and dates are included, along with the townlands of the perpetrators and the victims. So, you might discover that your family tree includes a victim of a crime, as well as a "perp."
   Currently, a trip to Dublin or London is required to view these papers, which are kept by the Archives of Ireland and of Britain.

16 April 2010


     First, I would like to thank the genealogy bloggers who have passed on the "Ancestor Approved Award" to my blog. I am still "learning the ropes" of blogging, slowly but surely. In between trying to figure out how to maintain my own page, I have been surfing through the world of genealogy blogging. I am amazed at all the fine blogs that are out there. Many belong to Geneabloggers, an online community of genealogy bloggers.
     Since we can learn so much from our fellow researchers, I would like to urge you to check out the world of genealogy blogs. I hope to add many more blogs to my list of blogs that I am following. If you click on My Profile, you will see some of the blogs I have discovered in the past few weeks. You will be so excited by the blogs you will discover, you might soon start your own!

08 April 2010


     Time was, I belonged to every genealogical association and society I could find. In the days before Al Gore invented the Internet, these organizations were a lifeline to information on genealogy, especially for sources in Ireland. That was also when the cost of genealogy as a hobby amounted to a roll of stamps and the occasional charges for shipping films from Salt Lake to my local Family History Center. Today, the amount of information available online to family historians is mind-boggling to us genealogical dinosaurs, but the monetary cost of access to that information has also risen geometrically. So, over the years, I cut back drastically on paying dues to organizations. I made one big mistake--I let my membership lapse in the Irish Genealogical Society International (IGSI).
     Then one day, I was cleaning out my files and came across a box of issues of The Septs that I had saved over the years. The Septs is the the quarterly journal of the IGSI. I realized that I was missing an important resource and that I needed to rejoin the IGSI. I was pleased to discover that membership was still a bargain--$25 for US and "electronic," and $35 for international mail.
     The main benefit for me is to have access to a society and a publication that consolidates topics and news in Irish genealogy. I consider myself a decent web surfer, but the IGSI helps guide me to information I might miss otherwise. Each issue of The Septs features, among other things, a few articles around a theme, such as Canadian Records (see my archive of past posts for that topic and an IGSI link) or Siblings. I like such an in-depth exploration of a topic and usually find some angle of research that I missed.
     I contacted Diane Lovrencevic, Vice-President of the IGSI and Tom Rice, Managing Editor of The Septs, for their input on the resources their society offers. They responded:
     "IGSI is a full service, international genealogy organization that offers a high quality quarterly publication, an instructional website, an extensive Irish genealogy library, expert research service, an eNewsletter, quarterly meetings, and Irish repository trips. We are very welcoming to new members and are supportive of their Irish heritage and genealogy research efforts."
   Diane and Tom said that the special benefits to members include the quarterly journal, the IGSI website, research services for members, access to one of the best Irish genealogy libraries in the US, an online bookstore with many hard-to-find Irish genealogy resources, quarterly meetings with speakers who are leaders in Irish genealogy, monthly classes, and research help.
   In addition, the IGSI has sponsored trips to research sites. Past trips included Salt Lake City, the US National Archives, and Canadian repositories. This fall, the society is offering a trip to Dublin. These trips are open to non-members. They have been able to find roommates for those persons who traveling alone but would like to share expenses and company.
   Diane said, "We have heard from others about wanting to go somewhere for research but not wanting to go totally alone. We thought offering our trips would be a good way to provide this kind of service to people."
     I want to thank Diane and Tom for taking the time to "walk me through" the IGSI. For more information on the society or their upcoming trip to Ireland, please click on the link below.
IGSI Trip to Ireland


12 March 2010


     My eyes glaze and my mind wanders when I am reading a deed, especially those long ones from the 1880's with property descriptions as big as the land itself. But with the help of a strong cup of coffee to keep oneself awake through the metes and bounds and duly's and hereby's, we can discover nuggets of genealogical treasures in deeds and property records.
     I have seen deeds that contain mini-family histories amid the land descriptions. In one such deed from 1900, a family tale was buried in the middle of a four page land description. The deed recounted how the land was purchased by an uncle and nephew-in-law, who each built a house on the land through a private family agreement. The uncle and nephew-in-law died within a short time of each other; the uncle with no children, but the nephew-in-law with eleven. The deed recounts the rights of the heirs, and is signed by them, so it is a valuable document in that sense.
      But the big genealogical discovery is in the part of the deed that recounts an agreement between the uncle and his nephew:
      "Daniel Kelly died and his interest became vested in Kearn Bowe his nephew by virtue of an agreement between them that Kearn Bowe should care for him in his last illness and give him a decent burial."
     Not only did this description introduce a new ancestor to the family, Kearn Bowe, it also provides a glimpse into the lives and relationships of the family members.
     For me, a story about a nephew caring for an uncle and their special relationship is what family history research is all about! Who would think to find such a story in a dry, old deed?
     The other day a woman in one of my classes showed me an deed from 1869 that contained all sorts of genealogical clues regarding wills and heirs. It even recounted the book number and location of a will and other deeds.
     In researching some Irish deeds and property records, I have come across another valuable genealogical gem: "measuring lives."  Under British property law, the time period of certain land transfers were measured by "lives" of (usually) three people. These deeds and records often described the "lives" in some manner, often in terms of a family relationship. Family historian Darryl Scarff shared with me an example from an 1819 County Kilkenny deed:
     "to hold same with all apput's therto belonging unto the said Jas. Scharf, his Heirs and afsigns, for and during the natural life or lives of the said Wm. Tyndall, John Tyndall, eldest son & Wm. Tyndall, youngest son, of said Wm., the lessor and survivor of them..."
So, as you see, this record not only states the names of  William Tyndall's sons, it gives the birth order as well! I have seen many other examples in Irish deeds and property records of the "lives" described in this way. After all, familial relationship was the best way to describe a person at the time.
     In the Wandesforde Estate papers, I read letters addressed to agents of the lord, directing them to determine if the people listed as measuring lives in some of the conveyances were still living. Certain lands could be reclaimed and sold if all had died. See my posting on searching estate records for other discoveries that can made in such collections.
     When researching Irish land and deed records, a family historian should be aware of this common law device and should search for conveyances in which the ancestor was the grantor as well as the grantee, as family members could be named as "measuring lives" in conveyances to third parties.
     While I will treat the methodology of property research in a future post, I will post below links to the Registry of Deeds Index Project and to the Registry of Deeds for Irealnd for those who might want to start their digging into Irish deeds. The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has estate and land records in Belfast. Don't forget to search the Family History Library to determine if the FHL has films of records or indices for your area of interest.

05 March 2010


     If your ancestors lived in, on, or near an estate--and most Irish did throughout the country's history--then there is an excellent chance that a facet of their lives is recorded in the estate records. Estate records usually encompass more than just the letters of the lord or lady of the manor. The papers in a collection of estate records can hold details of the minutiae of life on the estate. Bills, orders, ledgers, and letters can tell us much about the people who serviced, worked, and resided on the estate. The blacksmith, the seamtress, the carpenter, the destitute widow--estate records provide a peek into their lives.
      In the 1840's, my ancestor, Bridget Kavanagh Large, was a destitute widow living on land  in the Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, area owned by Lord Wandesforde. Last winter, I was able to spend two weeks researching the Wandesforde estate records at the National Library of Ireland Reading Room in Dublin. The index alone to the Wandesforde collection is over 200 pages long. The collection consists of boxes upon boxes of files, ledgers, letters, notebooks, and notes. In the files, I found two instances of her receiving charity from the lord, plus the date of her emigration (1844). But what brought tears to my eyes and chills to my spine was the letter sent by Bridget to Lord Wandesforde requesting blankets for her children. Even if the penmanship was not hers but was that of a priest or scribe, on that day I held in my hands a paper she had touched, had breathed upon, had taken every last ounce of her dignity to send. Time stopped when I held that fragile physical bond to my great great grandmother and I felt Bridget reach through the years and touch me.
     What prevents many researchers from having such moments is simply lack of knowledge of the estate records that are available. These records are not always easy to find, and they can be intimidating to research. However, with diligence and preparation, a good researcher can uncover their treasures. Many of the estate collections are kept in the archives of the National Library of Ireland (NLI).
     Patsy O'Shea of New Zealand is a genealogist who is familiar with researching landed estate records. She is a researcher for and contributor to the Bandon, Co. Cork, genealogy site. In 2007, Patsy spent six months in Dublin at the NLI transcribing records from the Lismore Papers. According to Patsy, the Lismore estate was located in Counties Cork and Waterford, with large holdings around Lismore and Bandon. Patsy gives this description of the collection:
     "The Lismore estate records are enormous and detailed. They cover the running of the estate from the early 1600's to its break up and sale in the late 1800's. Rent rolls, a complete survey of the town of Bandon in 1717 (includes name of householder and description of residence), estate agents' correspondence, lease records, and much more."
     How does a researcher determine if his or her ancestors lived on or near an estate, and if so, where the records are kept today? There are various ways of locating an estate. A knowledge of Irish geography and history would be very helpful to the search, as would historical maps. Patsy found the Lismore estate "mainly through Griffiths Valuation Records--I found that all my folk in that locality were leasing from the Duke of Devonshire."
     The estates are becoming easier to find online. The listings of the collections housed in the National Library of Ireland can be found in its online catalogs. For the Wandesforde papers, the Library even provides a 200+ page indexed finding aide online that can be downloaded as a pdf file. For the western counties, the National University of Ireland, Galway, has completed a resource guide to landed estates and gentry houses in Connacht. The guide is online and the link is below.
     One word of advice to researchers visiting the Manuscript Reading Room of the National Library in Dublin: explore the NLI's finding aides and catalog system online before your trip. You should have with you, if possible, the manuscript and item numbers of the papers you wish to view. A librarian can meet with you first if you are in need of guidance. At the reading room, you will submit an order to the librarian, then a "runner" will retrieve your items from storage. This process can take time on busy days. Please be patient--the staff is wonderful, and they work as efficiently as possible. Don't forget to thank them for all they do!
National Library of Ireland
Index to Prior-Wandesforde Papers at the NLI
Index to Powerscourt estate collection
(for the above two aides, scroll the alphabetical pages)
Connacht Landed Estates Project Database
Patsy's LINKS:
Bandon, Co. Cork, Genealogy
Loane Family of Co. Cork Genealogy Site

19 February 2010


There are quite a few websites that began as limited family homepages, but over the years have morphed into databases useful to a broad range of  Irish researchers. From time to time, I plan to feature some of these sites in this blog. This week, I am highlighting one that has helped many researchers in quite a few counties: ConnorsGenealogy (link below).
Pat Connors began ConnorsGenealogy in 2001, when she was fairly new to genealogy. Her first site was on the old Family Tree Maker website, but that site did not give Pat the freedom to expand, so she obtained her domain name and set up an independent site.
"I wanted to showcase my roots with my website," said Pat. But her site soon grew from being a personal showcase to a valuable resource for other researchers. The site expanded as Pat began to add sections for mailing lists she administered, then as she added counties to own family research.  Rather than discard records that did not deal directly with her family, Pat began to post them for the use of other researchers.
So, do not be misled by the title "ConnorsGenealogy," because we non-Connors can find valuable resources on her site. Researchers for the following counties should take a look:
Leix (Laois)
Researchers for Irish in New York State will also find information and records, as will those from Canada (Welland Co./Ontario). Interested in the English and Welsh locations of Cornwall, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Swansea? Worth a look, too.
Pat has an excellent search engine for researchers who want to narrow their search instead of browsing through the website.
Be sure to check out the Surname Registries. Pat said, "I try to update them every other month so they are current. The job takes me almost a full week, however, I consider it one of the best services I am offering on the site."
By the way, Pat administers the site completely by herself. Volunteers do help by transcribing various records to include on the site, and she is always looking for help.
Pat offers all this information for free--she does not charge for the data, even though the costs of maintaining the site have risen in terms of time and money. In an effort to defray costs, she does present a number of advertisers on her site, but the site itself remains non-commercial.
Pat made a point which I consider to be the Golden Rule of Genealogy:
"I warn people not to use the info they find on my website as source documents for their family research. Mistakes can easily be made when doing transcribing. So, one should go back to the source document (always given) and check for themselves as to the accuracy of the data."
I want to thank Pat for taking the time to "walk through" her website with me, and for all the work she does for the genealogical community. Find her website at