Wednesday 16 August 2023

The Ulster Covenant now searchable, free, at Ancestry

Ancestry has created another of its free-to-access 'Web' indexes to a database held on the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). This follows a move by PRONI in its centenary year to extend awareness of its online collections to more family historians with ancestral connections to the historical Irish counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, LondonDerry and Tyrone.

Click image for enlarged view of a
sample signature page from the Ulster Covenant 1912

The first two PRONI databases to receive the 'Ancestry Web' treatment were the Northern Ireland Valuation Revision Books and the Northern Ireland Freeholders records. These were uploaded in June (see blogpost) and, as with all the 'Web' collections, you don't need to subscribe or even be registered to view them.

The week's upload draws attention to the Ulster Covenant of 1912, a campaign by Ulster Unionists aimed at preventing Home Rule in Ireland. Mobilised at relatively short notice (and thereby sparking panic in Westminster), the campaign attracted nearly half a million signatures, and it is these, along with the address or townland of each signatory, that feature in this collection.

Ancestry's Ulster Covenant home page doesn't provide much of an introduction to the significance of this document. For a good overview, see PRONI's informative article here.