Monday, 20 February 2012

Ulster Historical Foundation adds Belfast records

From the Ulster Historical Foundation (

The first batch of new family records for 2012 are now online. We have added over 12,000 baptism records between 1900 and 1924 for St Patrick's Belfast.

The UHF supplies records to RootsIreland ( as well as its own site, but both sites don't quite have the same holdings and work in different ways. On the UHF site you can search by the child's name alone, or with the assistance of other fields - the names of one or both parents, and a year (with an automatic +/- 5 years), but not with any geography based fields at all, including an inability to narrow down by county (the site only contains records for Antrim and Down). A plus in its favour is that if I do a child search to a known couple, the results are returned listing the child's name, year of birth and the father's name - for additional information you then have to pay (£4 per record).

On RootsIreland you first select either County Antrim or County Down (or do an all-Ireland based search, or with additional counties). You can then search by the child's name alone, or with the assistance of other fields - the names of one or both parents, a year range (with the option of anything up to +/- 20 years), and the parish or district (with information given as to the religious denomination alongside each possibility, or if a civil registration record). On the down side, whilst you can specify a parent search and narrow down to the exact parish, the results do not provide names until after you have paid to view them. Results are 5 Euros each, though you can get a discount if there is more than one child born to a couple and you wish to purchase them all (10-15 records costing a set fee of just 30 Euros for example - the equivalent on the UHF site would be £40-£60).

The upshot of this is that you can maximise what can be found for free if you actually use both sites. Here's a suggested research strategy with the sites:
  • It's best to start with the RootsIreland website, which will allow you to target the area where you believe your family lived - but which will only say how many kids there are to a couple searched for in that area, without giving the children's names.
  • You can then find the children's actual names for free by repeating the search on the UHF site using the parents' names once again. 
  • If you wish for further detail (exact date rather than just the year, for example, perhaps also address and/or father's occupation), purchase the records by going back to the RootsIreland site. If there is more than one child, you'll save a small fortune.

It's not quite perfect - if two couples with the same name live in two separate parishes at the same time, you won't be able to narrow it down on the UHF site, but this should hopefully be a fairly rare occurrence.

Other records recently made available on the Ulster Historical Foundation website (last November) include (with number of records in brackets):
  • High Sheriffs of County Monaghan, 1605-1879 (257) 
  • Subscribers to James Orr's book of poetry, 1804 (383) 
  • County Down mourning cards (427) 
  • Return of householders, etc of Carrickfergus, 1834 (886) 
  • Captain Conyngham's muster roll, 1759 (26) 
  • Subscribers to the Leckpatrick Famine Relief Committee 1846/7 (260)
You have to be a member to view these though.

(With thanks to the UHF)


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