Archive – Duggan – RIC

My great great grandmother Isabella Ledbrooke is proving to be a bit of a difficult person to track down.

She is listed on different documents as being a British Subject born in or about 1826 in Armagh, Northern Ireland or Belfast, however I can’t find anything about her birth or her parents in the records (father William Ledbrooke, and mother Catharine nee Johnson).  I did see on reference in another family tree to her father being in Northern Ireland in the Police force?

She married John Cleaver in Long Itchington, Warwickshire in 1844, had a number of children and went to New Zealand in 1872 with three of her children.

Marilyn Duggan

Dear Marilyn,

I was initially interested in William Ledbrooke being in the police, but before going down this route I thought it worthwhile to trace a record of the Ledbrooke family in the English census on the www.findmypast.co.uk website   I found the family appearing under the slightly different spelling of the name ‘Ladbrooke’, corrected to Ledbrooke by 1851.

The family appear in the 1841 and 1851 Census:

In 1841 we found the following information recorded:

  • William Ladbrook 45, no place of birth indicated.
  • Catherine Ladbrook 50, born Ireland.
  • William Ladbrook 20, born Ireland.
  • Isabella Ladbrook 15, born Gloucestershire.
  • James Ladbrook 12, born Gloucestershire.

In 1851 we found this same married couple with their youngest son:

  • William Ledbrooke 64, Agricultural Labourer, place of birth Long Itchington, Warwickshire.
  • Catharine Ledbrooke, 68, place of birth Ireland.
  • James Ledbrooke, 22, place of birth Gloucestershire.

This evidence would seem to indicate that Isabella Ledbrooke born ca. 1826 was almost certainly born in England, probably in Gloucestershire.  This may explain why you have had no luck in tracing her in the Irish records.  Her birth predates the start of civil registration in England, but you could trace the surviving parish registers, to search for Isabella’s baptismal record.

By comparing the 1841 and 1851 census returns, we can further see that Catharine Ledbrooke and the eldest child of the marriage, William Ledbrooke born ca. 1821, were the only family members born in Ireland – this gives us an approximate window during which William Ledbrooke Sr. was probably present in Ireland.

The census information indicates that by 1851 William Ledbrooke was an agricultural labourer.  A retired police officer would normally record precisely that fact, i.e. ‘Police pensioner’.  Although this is not definitive, it would tend to undermine the story that William was a former police officer.

Having raised a question mark over William Ledbrooke’s occupation, we need to answer the question – whether in the early 1820s he may have served in the early Irish police force.

The Irish Constabulary:

In the early 19th Century there were two parallel police systems in Ireland.

  • the Peace Preservation Force established in 1814, and
  • the County Constabulary established in 1822.

These two systems merged in 1836 to form a national police force – the Irish Constabulary, later the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) in 1867.

Records of the Peace Preservation Force, including the Military index to Registered Papers 1832, and the Yeomanry and Constabulary index 1832 onwards can be found in the Chief Secretary’s Office (Constabulary – early records) held in the National Archives of Ireland.  The records mainly cover the timeframe 1814-22, but there are also some records that survive relative to the Tithe Agitation and the Tithe War (1822 to the late 1830s).

Service Records of the Royal Irish Constabulary are held in the U.K. National Archives in Kew.

Initially I hoped to search across both sets of records for William Ledbrooke by looking up Jim Herlihy’s definitive guides to the records of the Irish Constabulary

  • The Royal Irish Constabulary, A complete alphabetical list of officers and men, 1816-1922 – listing 83,743 rank and file R.I.C. men.
  • The Dublin Metropolitan Police, a short history and genealogical guide –listing 12,500 men in the D.M.P. between 1836 and 1925.

Both published by Four Courts Press.

Unfortunately the starting date of the Irish Constabulary service records is 1836, i.e. the time that the county Constabulary and the Peace Preservation Force merged to create the Irish Constabulary.  Anyone who had resigned, been pensioned off, or died prior to 1836 from the Irish police force will not be listed in the R.I.C. records.  That would seem to throw you back to the CSORP records held in the National Archives of Ireland, and the R.I.C. service records held in Kew.

I’m sorry not to have been able to tie up the loose ends here, and deliver a nice neat solution into your lap.  In contrast I may have a solution for Terence Francis Seery, who also wrote to me with a query about R.I.C. ancestors:

My great-grandfather Thomas Seery born ca. 1830 was from Roscommon and a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1853 (aged 23).  In 1860 he migrated to Australia and in 1861 he sponsored a Michael Seery, born ca. 1839 from Castletown Geoghegan and also in the Royal Irish Constabulary.  …. To date I have been unable to determine whether they were brothers, cousins or unrelated to each other.  ….

I would greatly appreciate some guidance that might reveal the actual origin of my Great-grandfather and it would be a real bonus to reveal his family relationship with Michael.

Terence Francis Seery

There is only 30 years difference between the first (Ledbrooke) query in the early 1820s, and the second (Seery) question in the 1850s.  Of course thirty years is a generation, and this extra generation makes all the difference in research.

To answer the first part of your question, where did Thomas Seery come from, you should first trace Thomas and Michael Seery’s service numbers using Jim Herlihy’s Royal Irish Constabulary,…1816-1922.  Using the service numbers you can then search the R.I.C. service records.  The originals are held in the U.K. National Archives, but LDS have made microfilm copies.

Among the information recorded in each R.I.C. service record (name of R.I.C. constable, rank, service number…) you will also find the name of the person who provided a character reference at the time of enlistment.

The people who were asked to provide these references were almost entirely drawn from the local establishment, usually local landowners.

Take the referee’s name and search a contemporary Directory to pin down a name and address – this should give you the place of origin.

You can then use land and parish records to trace the family.

Q.E.D.