Tracing your Ancestors - Beginning Your Family
Clare Roots Society
Maguire Suite, Old Ground Hotel, Ennis
Thursday 19 Feb 2015
by Paddy Waldron
Where do I start?
Basic free online sources
- Where are you coming from?
- Where do you want to go?
- What do you want to know?
- `The obvious gains many marks'.
- Start with yourself! Then work backwards in time.
- Start with a blank
pedigree chart, then eight more for your eight
greatgrandparents, and so on (powers of 2).
- Go sideways as necessary (to siblings and cousins of your
direct ancestors) in order to go backwards.
- Start with free software like Ancestral Quest
Basics AND online backup like tribalpages
(or vice versa if you have really fast broadband or are working in
collaboration with a co-author: master copy online and backup offline)
- e.g. http://pwaldron.info/tng/
starting with me
- Genealogy software and websites allow all information to be
easily imported and exported using GEDCOM files; don't use anything
which doesn't have this facility.
- Talk to those who may know more than you.
- Start with your oldest and/or most knowledgeable relatives
- Start with relatives or others who have already done some
research - don't reinvent the wheel - avoid unnecessary guesswork or
trial-and-error - but verify everything
- Start with your family papers - chocolate box, biscuit tin
or butter box:
- in memoriam cards
- family bible
- title deeds
or intestacies (no will, maybe a pedigree affidavit)
- Start with names, dates and places
- Then add the social history, photographs, etc.
- This talk will concentrate on the importance of place
- Start with freely available online sources, working
backwards in time from the most recent.
- Document your sources.
The first objective is to verify your family's oral traditions
sources; then to go back beyond the oral traditions.
Remember that not every record for a John Murphy refers to the
from whom you descend.
Even if your ancestor's surname is less common than John
Murphy, the same
Avoid forcing a fact to fit the story; force the story to fit the facts.
Although the 1911 census may imply that your ancestor John
Murphy was born
in County Limerick in 1852, the first baptism that you find for a John
in County Limerick in 1852 may NOT be your ancestor.
Be even more careful with secondary sources: if someone else's
tree has a John Murphy born in County Limerick in 1852, he may NOT be
The most basic source is Google,
which is great for more unusual names or combinations of names, like
sleeman"; but Google, by accident or design, does not harvest many
The major free online Irish sources, roughly in reverse
and 1911 Census of Ireland
--- Irish Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958
- See sample page
from original index (1866)
- FamilySearch.org's one-size-fits-all search form can
mislead beginners. The indexes don't include spouse or parents, apart
from the birth index from c1928-1958, which includes mother's maiden
surname only. To narrow the search, you can fill in one of (a) birth
date and/or place (b) marriage date and/or place or (c) death date
and/or place. Filling in fields which are blank in the record you want
will prevent you from finding it. More details here.
--- Ireland Births and Baptisms mostly 1864-1881
- See sample
- To narrow the search, you can fill in both parents' first
and/or last names and/or birth date and/or place. The appropriate
placename to use varies from year to year and from record to record.
Try townland or dispensary district or Poor Law Union or county.
--- Ireland Marriages mostly 1845-1870
- See sample
page from marriage register
- To narrow the search, you can fill in spouse's and/or
father's first and/or last names and/or marriage date and/or place.
Irish marriage certificates did not until relatively recently include
the name of either the groom's mother or the bride's mother.
--- Ireland Deaths mostly 1864-1870
- See sample
- To narrow the search, you can fill in death date and/or
death place and/or residence place. Irish death certificates did not
include the name of any relative until c2004, unless the informant
happened to be a relative, and even then the relationship may not have
been specified. If it was, then the relationship may be shown in the
transcript. The appropriate placename to use is generally the townland.
- Full familysearch.org
- In some non-Irish records the familysearch.org
transcriptions may include father's first name, mother's first name and
mother's last name, but not father's last name! See, for example, many
entries in New
Jersey, Marriages, 1678-1985. You must leave the father's
last name blank if you want to find these records.
- parish records, free for only about 4 counties, mostly
"Civil Indexes temporarily unavailable – it is hoped to restore certain
indexes in the near future." The near future may be nearer
than when this temporary unavailability started in July 2014.
- Griffiths Valuation (askaboutireland Family
Name Search or Place
Name Search - free)
- It's apparently not possible to link to specific map
locations - see discussion.
It is possible to link to the occupiers of a specific location using
the PlaceID, e.g. Moveen
West (PlaceID=257300). To view Original Page or Map View,
right click on icon and select "Open Link in New Tab".
Valuation (Irish Origins - subscription)
Valuation (Find My Past - subscription; also includes Landed
Estates Court Rentals)
- Griffiths Valuation, printed in the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s
for different parts of Ireland,, is continued up to around the
abolition of rates in 1977 in Valuation Office cancelled books, Irish
Life Centre, Abbey Street, Dublin; e.g., Moore
Samuel: Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837
Applotment Books 1823-1837
- Available online since November 2012. Edit the URL
to see results 100 at a time.
and Administrations 1858-1982
- Different access methods for different subperiods.
Last but not least - Clare County Library, Clare Past Forum and County Clare Ireland Genealogy facebook group.
Continue with offline sources (General Register Office,
National Library, National Archives, local libraries and archives,
subscription, pay-per-view, etc., online sources (findmypast.ie,
rootsireland.ie, ancestry.ie, irishtimes.com, irishnewsarchive.com,