Friday, September 30, 2011

CVGS Fall Seminar Summary: Anne Bowman – “Irish and Scots-Irish Genealogy Research”

The morning presentation at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Fall Seminar on 24 September was by Anne Bowman, titled “Irish and Scots-Irish Genealogy Research”

Anne's one hour PowerPoint presentation discussed basic concepts of Irish genealogy research in depth, and discussed Scots-Irish research in the U.S. briefly. 

She started by noting that 30-35% of Americans claim Irish or Scots-Irish ancestry, second only to German ancestry.  The first Irish emigration was in the 1700s, and were mostly of Scots-Irish heritage.  In the mid-1800s, the emigrants were mainly Irish Catholics fleeing the potato famine in Ireland.

To find your Irish emigrant to the U.S., always start with what you know; work backwards from yourself un til you find the immigrant; Collect as much info as possible in USA so that you can recognize him in Irish records;  there may be multiple people with the same name from the same town, village, region.  You need their full name, date of birth or age, place of birth or last residence before immigration, year of immigration, and the port of entry.  Look at Family Groups, since many immigrants traveled together with family and friends.

The types of records with clues include home photos, letters, passport; newspapers; Vital records; Census records; Military records (service records, pension); Social Security Applications; church and cemetery records; probate records; naturalization records; and passenger lists.

Anne described the different jurisdictions in Ireland, including:

*  Jurisdiction and Land divisions: organized large to small: country, province, county, poor law union, barony, civil parish, town or townland
*  Only one Ireland until 1922, then split into Republic and Northern Ireland
*  Four provinces before 1922 – Leinster, Munster, Connacht, Ulster
*  32 counties – 26 in present Irish Republic, 6 in present Northern Ireland
*  Poor Law Union: 162 work houses in several civil parishes in the 1850s. Civil Registration Districts follow PLU boundaries
*  Civil Registrations – non-Catholic marriages recorded in 1845. Roman Catholic births, deaths and marriages started in 1864
*  Barony – 273 barony divisions, used up to the 1901 census, but not used today
*  Parishes – Civil parishes and Ecclesiastical/church parishes. Civil parishes have the same boundaries/names as those of Anglican or Church of Ireland. Catholic parishes have different boundaries than civil parishes
*  Town/Townland: size varies from very small parcel up to thousands of acres. Need maps and gazetteers to find. See websites. (

The reasons for Irish to emigrate to North America included:

 *  Religious oppression
*  Famine with High mortality rates (1845-1855: potato blight/famine caused 1 million deaths)

By 1855, one fourth of population of Ireland had gone  to the US.  In the 1850 US census: almost 1 million people claimed Irish birth

The U.S. Records that may help identify an Irish immigrant include:

*  Federal and State Census records
*  Passenger lists – limited value because of many similar names. Tracking family groups is more productive.  Use, and  
*  Church records – baptism, marriage , burial. Godparents. Headstones. Central archives for diocese or original church. Some re on Microfilm from the LDS Family History Library.
*  .Newspapers: Boston Pilot had “Missing Friends” 1831-1920 used by immigrants to find family/friends in USA. Column sometimes listed exact origin of immigrant and parish of seeker and one being sought. Available at (NEHGS).
*  Institutions – hospitals, asylums, banks (NY Emigrant Savings Bank records are on,

Irish Records that are available include:

*  Census records before 1901 were destroyed in 1922 fire.
*  Vital Records in United Kingdom start in 1864, marriage records give only father’s name, death record has no parents
*  Church records – each parish has their own records, some start mid-1700s to mid-1800s. Many are Indexed and searchable, and some are at LDS Family History Centers
*  UK Tax Records – Tithe Applotment books for civil parishes in 1824-1840; Griffiths Valuation 1848-1864, lists all households, names, landlords, acreage, and is online
*  Estate Records – Catholics did not own land until the late 1800s. Landlords kept lease, rent, account records
*  Records from the 1700s are in the National Archives of Ireland.
*  Find a list of English vs Gaelic names –

In her presentation material about Scots-Irish Research, Anne noted that this refers to immigrants of Scottish heritage who were either born in Ireland or who lived in Ireland before emigration.  They are also called Irish Presbyterians, Ulster Scots or Scotch-Irish.  Many people from Scotland settled in  Northern Ireland in the late 1600s.  They were of the Presbyterian religion or association.  They can be identified from family traditions, names, etc.
Some history:

*  1609: first Scottish plantation in Ireland
*  1717: first wave of migrants to America (Large group in 1718 from Londonderry to Boston, then many to New Hampshire)
*  1725:  second wave
*  1740:  third wave
*  1775-76: American Revolution
*  1717-1776: 2.5 million Scots-Irish migrated to colonies
The greatest number of Scots-Irish settled in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, but they were in all 13 colonies.  After the American Revolution, many went to Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The reasons for emigration included:
*  British policy required 10% tax on Scots-Irish who were Presbyterian
*  Neighborly friction with Catholics
*  Better opportunities
*  Migrated freely
*  Some came with British regiments, as indent servants or prisoners
The American records of the 1700s are limited - there are no vital records, census records, or naturalization records.  Researchers can use property, probate, court, military, cemetery, and church records to find their Scots-Irish immigrants.  They came with family groups and lived near extended family, so look for ministers and their homelands.

Anne provided a one-page syllabus with a list of the Irish and Scots-Irish online resource websites. 

This was a fast-paced, well organized basic research review on Irish and Scots-Irish research in both the U.S. and in Ireland. 

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