Friday 13 January 2012

Cork City non-conformist baptisms – online and free.

Like most researchers, every now and again I tumble across some records that have been quietly and freely available for some time. That's what happened this week when I followed a link from the Irish Genealogical Research Society's facebook page to the Unitarian Church of Cork. What a treasure trove for those with non-conformist ancestors!

In a database of records dating from 1717 to 1900 are 4,500 baptisms. While the majority of entries don't give an address for the new parents, nor, most unfortunately, the mother's maiden name, many provide exciting additional information rarely seen in church registers.

The following will give you an idea of the potential of these records:

  • Henry Alexander was baptised by Mr Hinks on 27 January 1811. He was the son of Henry and Mary Leith. A note in the margin adds that Henry junior is his father's 10th son.
  • James, the son of James and Janet Ferrod, was baptised on 3 May 1749. His father is described as a Warwickshire (England) man but a soldier in the Highland Regiment. The family is noted as 'going to America'.
  • The daughter of Amos Varian, Hester, was baptised on 29 May 1826, her birth 'occasioning the death of her mother', Dorcas.
  • A set of triplets, Hector, Anne and Ellinor, was baptised on 23 February 1752 by Mr Bryan. They were the children of John and Christian (sic) Mackay.

A significant proportion of the fathers were soldiers and in most post-1750 entries their rank and/or regiment is given (ie Drummer Major 78th, Capt in Carr's Regt). Other entries carry clues such as 'their first (child) here' or 'first by his present wife'.

These records were discovered by members of the congregation in 2010 and uploaded to the Church's website 'about a year ago'. It is hoped that Marriage Registers will be added at some time in the future.

The Unitarian Church, Princes Street, is the oldest place of worship in Cork City. Building commenced in 1715 and the first service was held on 4 August 1717. Images of the registers and the Excel database of baptisms can be downloaded here.