Research Tip of the Week

Irish Record sets: the highways and byways and the paths that connect

One thing that becomes second nature when conducting genealogical research on a daily basis are the highways and byways of Irish record sets, and the ‘paths’ that connect each.

Knowing these paths and how to use sources consecutively can save a lot of time and keep research more focused. Below are but a few examples of how the evidence from one source can assist with the searching of another;

1911 Census – Civil marriage indexes

If you have identified your ancestors on the 1911 Census and they are married, column 10 on the return should indicate the number of completed years of marriage at the time of the Census (2nd April 1911). This number can act as a guide to what year their marriage took place (e.g. if 20 years is recorded in column 10. a search circa 1890-91 may identify the marriage). I say ‘guide’ in this instance as I’ve personally seen the recorded year of marriage be out by as much as 8 years. As a general rule the lower the number (i.e. more contemporary to the Census) the more likely it is to be accurate. This can also be applied to parish records.

Valuation Office Cancelled Books – Civil death indexes

If you are using a property/address to trace your ancestors the Cancelled Books are an essential resource and one which can often point to other events. If an individual is ‘struck-out’ and replaced by what appears to be a near relative, or better yet ‘Rep[representatives]s of…’, this can often indicate that the individual has died. The coloured ink will indicate in what year the change occurred and provide a book-end year for a search for the death of the individual in question. This can also be applied to searches for a will / grant of probate.

Civil death certificates – Newspapers / Gravestones

If you have identified a civil death for an ancestor the certificate will record a date of death. For deaths in the modern era, this date can be used to conduct focused searches in the newspapers for a death notice/obituary. Death notices can offer invaluable information, including for more modern notices, the graveyard in which the individual is buried. Similarly, the date of death can be used to search online graveyard inscriptions (e.g. Glasnevin). Although you may identify the grave of a later generation, multiple generations of the same family can often be interred in the same grave.

By Stephen Peirce


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