Friday 14 August 2015

FindMyPast adds Church of Ireland Parish Register Search Forms
FindMyPast has added a collection called Church of Ireland Parish Register Search Forms. Its index holds more than 11,000 entries.

These forms – 'Extracts from Parish Registers – (for members of the former Established Church only)' – were completed by staff at the Public Record Office of Ireland on receipt of applications for the Old Age Pension, which started in 1909. Born before civil registration was introduced, many of the applicants had no proof of their age, so searches were made of state records ie Church of Ireland baptism registers and, if that proved unsuccessful, the 1841 and 1851 census returns.

Applicants were required to provide their current name and address, the names of their parents and either the name of the parish where they were baptised or the place the family lived.

The forms were annotated by PROI staff as they made their searches, and can provide fabulous detail. Even if the search was unsuccessful, the information provided by the pension applicant can be useful, genealogically. The maiden surname of the mother is often provided, for example.

Here are a couple of examples I found this morning:

In 1917, Julia Minishall, born Malin Head, Co Donegal but living in Liverpool, applied for a search of the Cloncha parish baptism register to confirm her age. She gave the names of her parents as William Hore and Julia Lyne and her birthdate as 17 April 1844. This was confirmed from the register.

William Armstrong, who lived at Castlereagh Place in Belfast, submitted his application in August 1921, saying he was born on 26 June 1848, the son of William Armstrong and Eliza Mullin of Clogherny parish (Co Tyrone). A search of the 1851 census showed him living in Dervaghroy with his mother and siblings at the home of his grandparents, William and Mary Mullen, who were then 70 and 78 years old respectively and had married in 1820. His mother's year of birth and marriage was noted, as were the ages of his siblings, and even two who did not survived. The real surprise in these notes, however, is that a 32-year old Thomas Armstrong, presumably William's father, is recorded as 'absent, America'.

This record set is a very useful addition to the FindMyPast collection but I'm bothered about the consistency of indexing. In the examples above, neither of Julia Minishall's parents are searchable under their own names; they appear on the transcript of her entry as her father and mother, however. Yet every name recorded on William Armstrong's search form is transcribed and searchable, even those of his two deceased siblings.