Monday, 19 September 2016

National Archives of Ireland completes genealogy site collections

Last week the National Archives of Ireland ( added several major new digitised record sets to FindmyPast (see The same records have now been added to the archive's own digital collections site at - all are completely free to access.

The newly added collections are as follows, each with its own dedicated URL address for direct access, and descriptions as detailed on the site:

Prerogative and diocesan copies of some wills and indexes to others, 1596 – 1858

Before 1858, grants of probate and administration were made by the courts of the Church of Ireland (the Prerogative Court and the Diocesan or Consistorial Courts). Almost all of the original records were destroyed in the Public Record Office in 1922. Most of what appears on this site are indexes to the original wills.

For the pre-1858 ecclesiastical courts, will books containing copies of the originals survive for the Prerogative Court (1664-1684, 1706-1708, 1726-1728, 1728-1729, 1777, 1813 and 1834) and some Diocesan Courts – Connor (1818-1820 and 1853-1858) and Down (1850-1858). The will books for Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The records can be searched by name, date, residence and district or diocese.

Diocesan and Prerogative Marriage Licence Bonds Indexes, 1623 – 1866

If your ancestors marry in Ireland between 1623 and 1866, they may have been married by licence rather than by banns. Marriage licences were granted, on payment of a fee, by the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of Ireland. The original records were destroyed in the Public Record Office explosion of 1922, but indexes survive, and record Protestant marriages as far back as 1623.

The indexes will give you names of spouses, year of marriage and diocese.

(NB: I didn't see this on FindmyPast a few days ago, but this collection is also now available there at

Catholic qualification & convert rolls, 1700 – 1845

Throughout the eighteenth century, restrictions enacted by the Penal Laws were relaxed for those Catholics who took the Oath of Allegiance to the King and renounced their religion for that of the established Church of Ireland. In the majority of cases this was not a sincere renunciation of the Catholic religion, as it was the only legal means whereby a Catholic could obtain basic civil rights.

In 1774 an Act was passed to permit the King’s subjects, of any religion, to take an oath at the local assizes (courts) “to testify to their loyalty and allegiance to him, to promote peace and industry in the kingdom.”

These names were then registered in the Catholic Qualification Rolls according to surname, first name, address, and date of qualification. Occupation is sometimes also supplied. The rolls cover the period from 1700 to 1845, with most entries after 1800 dealing with naturalised citizens. Over 50,000 people are listed.

The Rolls can be searched by name, date, county, residence and diocese. The county, residence and diocese entries are not consistent; sometimes all three appear; sometimes only one.

Valuation Office house, field, tenure and quarto books 1824 – 1856

The printed volumes of the Primary (or Griffith’s) Valuation, the record of Ireland’s first comprehensive property tax, have been available online for many years now, and are a crucial part of the genealogical infrastructure for the mid-nineteenth century. But the records which underlie and inform the printed valuation have never been digitised until now, and they contain more information about households and landholding than can be found in the printed version.

There are four distinct kinds of books involved, and our former Director, Frances Magee, who has worked on these records for years, has written descriptive notes on each of them to clarify their functions and the information they contain. Begin with her General Note, and move on to the four descriptions linked below.

General Note
Field Books
House Books
Tenure Books
Quarto Books

These records contain over 2 million names. They provide a comprehensive assessment of the rental value of Irish lands and property from the mid-1820s to the mid-1850s. The books reveal where and when individuals rented or owned property and provide rare glimpses of life in pre-famine Ireland.

Shipping agreements and crew lists, 1863 – 1921

The records of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen consist of crew lists, and agreements with seamen regarding wage rates, conditions of service and related information, of ships registered in what is now the south of Ireland between 1860 and 1921. They came to the National Archives in 1971 and 1978 from the Board of Trade in Britain.

The shipping records contain much useful information, including

Crews: Name, age or year of birth, town or district of birth, last ship served on, port to which she belonged, date and place of discharge from previous ship, date and place of joining present ship, capacity in which he joined, if service discontinued, cause, date and place.
Ship: Name, registered number, port of registry, date of registry, owner’s name and address, dates and places of arrivals and departures.
Log: Date of event logged, occurrence situation by longitude and latitude, amount of fine or forfeiture inflicted.
Wages: Amount of wages per calendar month, share or voyage.
Provisions: Scale of provisions to be served to the crew each day given with weights per day for bread, flour, coffee, butter, water, beef, peas, sugar, tea, port.
Apprentices: Name, age, date of indenture, port of indenture, date of assignment, port of assignment.
Births: Date, name, sex, parents’ names, mother’s maiden name, occupation of father, nationality and last abode of parents.
Deaths: Of crew: name, agreement reference number, net wages paid. Of passengers: date of death, name, age, sex, occupation, parents’ names, cause of death.

The records are searchable by name, vessel name, departure port, date of event, age, town/county of origin, year of birth, year of death, place of death.

Will Registers 1858 – 1900

This series comprises over 550,000 records, forming the largest collection of surviving wills for the post-1858 period for what is now the Republic of Ireland. The registers allow researchers to explore the pages of the wills to discover where their families lived, what assets they had, if they were left to relatives, and if not, to whom.

Readers can connect these records to the already available Calendars of Wills and Administrations to get concise information about amount of assets, executors and beneficiaries.

These records are also major resources for social and economic history, providing, as they do, hitherto untapped information about financial and property assets, family relationships, family economic development over time, and gender and class relations. Our Browse feature will allow easy access to information for each county, thus facilitating local studies.

And don't forget the other free to access collections already available on the site:
  • Census of Ireland, 1901 and 1911, and pre-1901 survivals
  • Census Search Forms, 1841 – 51
  • Tithe Applotment Books, 1823 – 37
  • Soldiers’ Wills, 1914 – 1918
  • Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858 – 1922

COMMENT: Mark this day in your diary. Say whatever farewells you need to say to your loved ones, before you lock yourself away for the next few weeks to look at all of this. Then go and play.

Well done NAI; well done Ireland!


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Beginner's Guide to British and Irish Genealogy, 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

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