Wednesday 4 January 2017

IGRS Early Irish BMD Indexes reach major milestone
Click for larger view of a sworn declaration made
by Patrick Tierney in 1866 confirming James
Carey's 1844 birthdate.
Source: Civil Service Evidence of Age collection.
The Irish Genealogical Research Society's Early Irish BMD Indexes have reached a new collective milestone of a quarter of a million name entries. All relate to events before the start of civil registration and are drawn from a wide variety of records providing substitute evidence of birth, marriage or death.

These sources include family bibles, army and navy records, wills, letters, newspapers, gravestone inscriptions, court records, deeds, leases, diaries, published works, archives of religious orders, census abstracts, guild records, pension records and so on.

Among the most recent updates to the Early Irish Birth Index were a significant number of entries sourced from the British Civil Service Evidence of Age Index. More than 2,600 Irish BMDs were gleaned from this one resource alone. In the absence of formal written records, would-be civil servants had to find friends and neighbours who were prepared to provide a sworn statement as to their knowledge of the applicant's age. In the case of James Carey from Clonoulty, Co Tipperary, who applied for a Civil Service position in 1866, his neighbour Patrick Tierney was able to confirm James' date of birth as 7 January 1844, commenting: “I can declare to same from the fact that my father died on said day.” (Click on image above to view the Sworn Declaration.)

The latest update to the Early Irish Marriage Index includes entries from Church of Ireland Marriage Licence Bonds. Roz McCutcheon FIGRS, the Society's coordinator for the Early Irish Indexes, said: "Although generally only the indexes remain to Marriage Licence Bonds, they are nevertheless a primary source, and include a surprising number of Catholic marriages. I have recently come across some papers, while cataloguing at the Society of Genealogists in London, which include full abstracts of some early marriages in the Dioceses of Ferns & Derry.

"Thus, whereas the previous entry for the Ferns marriage of Henry Haughton showed him marrying Catherine Cavanagh in or after 1682, the new additional information from the abstract notes the exact date of the bond as 10 June 1682, and that the couple were both from Co Wexford, that Catherine was a spinster, living at Polemounly, while Henry was from Ballyane."

Finally, the Early Irish Death Index has been boosted by 3,260 records noted from newspapers. "It is surprising that newspapers are still a much underyused source for biographical information," said IGRS Chairman Steven Smyrl. "In particular, notices of death become more common from the 1830s onwards as the middle classes begin to grow in strength and numbers," he said. “As the months roll on, it is hoped to add many more entries to the database culled from newspapers, proving that despite the great loss of 1922, there still remain many untapped sources for Irish genealogists to explore.”

Free public access is available to the Early Irish Marriage Index. While the Early Irish Birth and Death Indexes are IGRS members-only resources, non-members can search corresponding free surnames indexes. See the Society's website for details.