Friday 20 November 2015

Did your Irish ancestor have a secret handshake?

Ancestry has added a new collection – Ireland's Grand Lodge of Freemasonry membership registers – to its database. These registers date from 1733 to 1923.

The records originate from the Dublin-based Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland, which was founded in 1725 and is the second-oldest such outfit in the world. The collection includes membership registers for Masonic Lodges across the 32 counties of Ireland, for Irish Lodges abroad and for those that were attached to militia and British Army regiments.

Membership registers typically list name and the individual's date of admission to the Lodge. They may also include dates of promotion ie 'When made Warden', 'When made Master' etc. Ancestry says that the 'observations' column sometimes includes a date of death and, from the latter part of the C19th, details of profession are given.

Unexpectedly, a quick search in the collection has found three of my non-direct ancestors in the membership registers of the Wicklow (1817), Trim (1815) and Dublin (1767) Lodges. I'm surprised because I wouldn't have thought this branch of ancestors would have 'cut the mustard' socially back then, but perhaps their merchant business was more successful in its earlier days than in the mid to late 19th century. Interesting.