Tuesday 5 July 2016

Ancestry searches soar in aftermath of Brexit

Following the Brexit vote on June 23rd, in which the UK voted to withdraw from the European Union, Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) has reported a surge in use on its website with regard to its Irish collections, seemingly with the intent of tracing Irish ancestry in order to apply for an Irish passport. The full story is available at http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/family-ancestry-searches-soar-after-brexit-11364071763956 and http://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/online-searches-for-irish-ancestry-up-by-onefifth-with-users-keen-to-learn-if-they-qualify-for-eu-passport-34857091.html.

Sue Moncur of Ancestry states that "Since the referendum we have seen the rate of new UK users signing up for free trials to investigate their family history go up by 40%. At the same time we have seen a strong rise in interest in our Irish record collections, with daily searches for Irish records up 20% since the referendum.

"The question of British identity has been brought into focus for many because of the referendum. The spike in interest in people investigating their family history is likely linked to that, alongside a more general curiosity about European or international identity. A lot of people have also been concerned about the impact that separation from the EU may have on freedom of movement between the UK and EU countries. It seems likely that the rise in searches of our extensive Irish records might be a direct result of people looking for a link to Ireland or an Irish ancestor.

"There are tens of millions of Irish records digitised on Ancestry and since the referendum we have seen a 20% rise in people searching those records. Millions of British people have Irish ancestry so the increase in search activity suggests a trend in people looking to confirm their links to Ireland, possibly with the longer term goal of applying for an Irish passport."

Over the last couple of weeks I have been blogging about my own efforts to secure Irish passports for myself and my two sons, a process I actually initiated before the Brexit vote - it's something I have long been contemplating, as much for reasons of identity as anything else. I have received a couple of complaints for doing so - specifically "What's it got to do with genealogy?" - but I make no apology for having done so. Indeed, many friends of mine, who work as genealogists, have been reporting an increase in requests to locate documentation for similar applications, not just for Ireland, but from other EU countries.

One of the benefits from genealogy is that it can act as a means to help secure and affirm a person's identity. Establishing a line of descent to other cultures in which you were not raised can bring benefits other than a family tree chart. You can share and affirm that identity by other means, including citizenship, and a passport is a reflection of that. The records that can be obtained for genealogical research, such as birth and marriage certificates, can be used in that process. In the post-Brexit vote, I consider posting about it to be a public service for those who do not wish to lose EU citizenship.

To read my efforts so far on the Irish front, visit the following blog posts:

Part One: http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/claiming-irish-passport-1.html

Part Two: http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/claiming-irish-passport-part-2.html

Part Three: https://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/claiming-irish-passport-part-3.html


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html.

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