Friday, 19 December 2014

Surgeon ancestors? Examination registers now online

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has uploaded scans of the College's Examination Register to its online Heritage Collection, which is free to view.

The registers date from 1784 to 1803. They're arranged alphabetically (after a fashion) and record those who were examined in the RCSI for Letters Testimonial, Mateship, Army Surgeon, Surgeoncy, Army Mate, Navy Mate, Assistant Surgeon and to be a ranked mate to a ranked officer.

When first established by Royal Charter in 1784, the College did not offer its own training for surgeons. It was set up to control and regulate standards and act as a type of accreditation board. Candidates for the examination would have learned their craft, typically as apprentices, from third parties and could then be tested by the RCSI to see if they met the required standard for the Army or Navy, one of the principal employers for those with such skills. You can see the information recorded in the sample below.

From being a regulator of standards, the RCSI quickly moved into the provision of education. Those who studied at the College in Dublin and successfully passed its examinations were licenced to work as surgeons, not just for the Army and Navy, but also in private practice. The licence gave them the freedom to chose where they used their skills. All graduates signed the Roll of Licentiates, and added their current 'term time' address in Dublin (a few gave their home address). The Rolls from 1828 to 1890 are available for viewing here,

RCSI Archivist Meadhbh Murphy has told Irish Genealogy News that the Rolls for 1891 to 1950 will be added in early 2015.

Famine Relief Commission Papers: Indexing Phase II

Ancestry's last World Archive Project (AWAP) to get underway in 2014 is the Ireland Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1844-1847. These papers consist of a variety of lists and letters from the Commission which was established in November 1845 in response to the failure of the potato crop; its purpose was to administer temporary relief supplementary to that provided by the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act, 1838.

Ancestry's Rhona Murray told Irish Genealogy News that this collection gives an insight into the destitution being experienced across Ireland at this time of hardship and struggle. Letters tell of pleas “for aid towards the relief of the starving poor who are now in the greatest state of destitution and complete starvation”; as well as reports of workhouses being closed or indeed full; and the fighting spirit of the community working day and night in an attempt to save people from “death by famine”.

An earlier AWAP project on this collection resulted in 6,747 records being indexed by the name of the author of each letter, the location, and an abstract of the subject of the letter. This project was carried out by Ancestry's WAP volunteers across the world and, in keeping with ethos of this community, the indexes are searchable free of charge.

'Revisiting' the images will allow more names to be extracted from the body of the letters, as well as subscription lists that accompany the letters – the list of landlords, list of chairmen and secretaries of relief committees. By extracting additional names from the collection, further light should be shone on the individuals involved in the relief efforts.

Rhona says Ancestry would welcome assistance from those in Ireland and across the world who would like to volunteer their time and help extract additional names from this valuable collection of papers. The collection is ready for keying (the handwriting can be difficult but it's generally legible) and volunteers can begin by downloading the AWAP keying tool.

Once logged in to a free registered guest account, volunteers can select the option to key the Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847, and will be provided with detailed keying instructions of the information to extract from the images. All indexes keyed by the AWAP community will be then made available for free on the Ancestry website.

The original data for this collection is held by the National Archives of Ireland, as follows:
  • Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847. RFLC3/1, Incoming Letters: Numerical Sub-series. The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.
  • Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847. RFLC3/2, Incoming Letters: Baronial Sub-series. The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.

FindMyPast adds 1871 worldwide British Army index 1871 worldwide British Army Index has joined FindMyPast's World and Britain collections. Estimates suggest that at least a third of the British Army in the mid-19th century was made up of Irishmen, so this Index has good potential for Irish family historians.

It comprises nearly 209,000 entries recording the whereabouts of officers and other ranks serving in Britain and elsewhere in the Empire on 2nd April 1871. At least, that is what was intended. In practice, it includes details for slightly longer, sometimes up to December. It also includes many civilians attached to the military.

Each record is a transcript of original source material extracted from the War Office army pay lists, held by the National Archives in Kew, London.

The information provided varies but usually includes name, service number, rank or description, regiment or unit, location of regimental headquarters, National Arcchives reference, date of the record. Some 36,000 records include additional notes, and these can be very illuminating. Below are three sample entries pulled from the records.
  • Cornelius Bartlett, Service number 1487, Private with the 97th (Earl of Ulster's) Regiment of Foot, HQ location: Mullingar, Ireland.
  • Neill Wynne, Service number 1407, Private with the 1st Bn 18th (The Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot, HQ location: Curragh Camp, Ireland. Notes: Deserted. Discharged on 6 May 1871 at Curragh, Ireland. Butcher. Born Dublin, Ireland. Mother Anne, 18 Barnard St, Dublin, Ireland
  • John Driscoll, Service number 1449, Private with the 2nd Bn 18th (The Royal Irish ) Regiment of Foot, HQ location: Devonport (England). Notes: In civil confinement from 1 April to 24 June 1871. Location not indicated. Bad character. Discharged on 24 June 1871 at Devonport. Born Cork.
I'd recommend you read this indepth Introduction to the 1871 Index which provides historical context and a useful explanation of how the record set was compiled.

Three other record sets also joined FindMyPast today:

Deaths & Burials from England, 1538-1991
Deaths & Burials from Wales, 1586-1885
Minute Books from Bexley Asylum in Kent.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

More records added to IGRS Early Marriage Finder

Following its most recent update, the Irish Genealogical Research Society’s Early Irish Marriage Index ends 2014 with an impressive 62,065 records in its database.

These records, which include some 139,000 names, pre-date civil registration (1864). The latest update of more than 4,000 records has drawn new material from the Registry of Deeds and from the surviving manuscript and published indexes to Church of Ireland Marriage Licence Bonds (MLB) from the diocese of Cloyne, Kildare and Elphin, among others. Bear in mind that Roman Catholic couples may also have applied for MLBs to ensure their marriage was accepted as a legal union.

The Early Irish Marriage Finder was launched last year and is free to view on the Society's website.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Latest from Ireland Genealogy Archives Project

Headstone in Mt Jerome Cemetery.
Photo copyright Yvonne Russell
The following items have been added to the Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives since the beginning of December. They've all been submitted by volunteers and they're free to view.

CORK Genealogy Archives – Photos
COLTHURST (nee AHERN?) and O'FLYNN photos

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives – Vital Records
Assorted deaths – 1869

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives – Headstones
Mt Jerome Cemetery, Dublin – Part 93

Genealogy Archives - ChurchRecords
Muckross, St. John's (CoI) Marriages 1869-1899
Muckross, St. John's (CoI) Burials 1892-1899

SLIGO Genealogy Archives – Photos
Toormour Abbey Plaque & Board

Genealogy Archives – Miscellaneous
Subsidy Rolls Parish of Termont M'Goork Parish, 1666

GENERAL IRELAND Archives – Newspapers
Freemans Journal, 19 Mar 1844 Repeal in America, Sydney, Cape Breton
Freemans Journal, 19 March 1844 Repeal in America, Charleston
Freemans Journal, 3 October 1843 Repeal in America, Niagara District
Freemans Journal, 19 March 1844 Repeal in America, Chicago, Halifax & Miramichi

Echoes of their Footsteps, I & II, launched in Dublin recent Dublin launch of two books by Kathleen Hegarty Thorne – Echoes of their footsteps: The Quest for Irish Freedom, 1913–1922, and Echoes of their footsteps: The Irish Civil War, 1922–1924 – may be of interest to Irish family historians.

With a strong emphasis on the individuals involved at the grass roots level, the books are based on some 22 years of research into the War of Independence and the Civil War which followed. Each has been extensively indexed and includes thousands of names of genealogical interest.

The indexes include names, townlands, details of photos and other information of interest to genealogists and can be viewed as a pdf file at no charge. Simply log onto the publisher's website at, pick a book and click the 'download index' link.

Echoes of their footsteps: The Quest for Irish Freedom, 1913–1922 is hardbound, 408 pages long and has 214 illustrations. It has a 27-page index that includes names of Volunteers mentioned, place names, county Brigade and Battalion information, and themes addressed in the book. $49.95.

Echoes of their footsteps: The Irish Civil War, 1922–1924 is also hardbound and has a 24-page index. The main crux of the book a running historical calendar of events about the IRA interspersed with various tidbits of notable Irish happenings and articles about the various hunger strikers. $49.95.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Ulster Historical Foundation adds eight new databases

The Ulster Historical Foundation (UHF) has added a bumper crop of eight new databases to the members' section of its website at In total, this latest upload adds more than 36,300 names to its online collection.

The largest single new database holds more than 27,000 indexed records from the burial registers of Milltown Cemetery on Belfast's Falls Road, which is the main Catholic cemetery in the city. The register dates from 1869, when the cemetery opened, to 1895 and contains the name, age and address of the deceased as well as the date of burial. It's an invaluable resource for researching Belfast ancestors, many of whom, like most city dwellers, moved frequently.

In addition to the burial register, a separate database holds the names and addresses of more than 1,600 buyers of burial plots in Milltown Cemetery between 1924 and 1931.

The other new databases fall into two categories:

19th century records:
More than 5,400 names by townland and parish from the 1803 Agricultural Census for County Down, as well as the names of those subscribing to the publication of the ‘Historic Memorials of the First Presbyterian Church in Belfast’ in 1887 and the names of members of First Derry Presbyterian Church by pew number from the year 1883.

Earlier records: These have been transcribed by the UHF's volunteers and include a petition by residents of the parishes of Kilrea and Tamlaght O’Crilly in County Londonderry which declared the signatories to be opposed to the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland in 1745; a list of those who were restored to their estates in Ireland by King Charles II in 1660; and a list of those people who were issued with transplanters’ certificates in 1653 and 1654 to move to Connaught.

Together with an existing collection of 200+ databases holding more than 775,000 names, these eight databases are available free to members of the Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild. You can find full details of the benefits of membership (a year's subscription is currently £33) at AncestryIreland.