The Derry website offers a free and unique service to family researchers and the entire Derry section of Griffiths Census has been exported into an Excel spreadsheet. This has been organized so as to identify how prevalent family names are in each townland, how distinctive names are to a parish and not found much elsewhere, and family names of neighbors. In many cases this will help to narrow a search and more so if the family name of the marriage partner is distinctive to the same townland or parish. It should be remembered that the details for County Derry were not entered until 1852, a full 7 years after the Great Famine, and they are therefore incomplete. By that time much emigration had already taken place to Scotland and places much further away. The use of asterisks in the specimen table below signifies the prevalence and uniqueness of the name to a parish. The complete Excel spreadsheet, together with a Ready Reckoner to narrow a search, is available at no cost from Dr. Don MacFarlane from this website.
Poll Start Date: 28th August 2010
The prevalence of the commonest names in Derry makes it that more difficult for family researches to trace these ancestors unless they have to hand other information such as less common names of ancestors on the distaff side of the family tree. The principal parishes in the mid 1800s where these commoner families were to be found is given in brackets except where they were too dispersed to be associated with any particular locality, e.g., Doherty (Templemore – now known as Cityside of Derry), McLaughlin (Templemore), Gallagher (Templemore), McCloskey (Dungiven), Kane, Kelly, Coyle (Templemore), Moore (Tamlaght Finlagan), Bradley (Ballynascreen) and Campbell (Macosquin).
Visitors to this site can also explore how strong their Irish roots have survived through generations from the early 1800s. An accurate assessment can be done from completion of an identity grid and with reference to the classic paper by Kaufmann on ethnicity. For further information and explanation of the grid, log in and post a reply for Dr. Don MacFarlane as it is his PhD thesis the method and analysis are based upon.
To see a map of civil parishes see Civil Parishes of Derry.
While looking at this map, it may be useful to keep the topography of the County in mind’s eye. Two diagonal lines, one from Cumber Lower to Drumachose, and another from Ballynascreen to Ballywillin, divide off the lowland parts of County Derry from the belt of upperlands that runs through the middle. For R.C. Diocesan parishes see Diocesan Parishes. Some parishes such as Lavey Parish have gone to the trouble to put their records on line but this would be the exception rather than the norm. How the introduction of family records at parish level came about and how this has changed over the centuries is detailed at History from Headstones.
A more extensive list of the commoner family surnames in each Parish as recorded in the Griffiths 1845 Census is set out below. Matheson’s Report also shows to what extent family names found in Ulster had emigrated from other parts of the island of Ireland. The researcher might also find it useful to have a basic knowledge of the origins of Irish Placenames. What may seem at first sight to be a bewildering name for a townland may give good clues as to Townland Locale. Given what we know about the rundale nature of the agricultural economy of Ulster in the early 1800s, the placename may also give good clues as to the social circumstances of a family at that time.
Links will be created on this website for most of the parishes listed below and these will show places of origin and clan connections of the inhabitants prior to arriving in Derry. It will be obvious from most of these links done so far how much there is of a Scots-Irish connection. The controversial if amusing Tim Pat Coogan would seek to deny Scots-Irish people their enduring and strong affinity with the Ireland of their ancestors. He likens them to the Anglo Irish Duke of Wellington who remarked about his Irish ancestry that being born in a stable did not make one a horse. Likewise, he quotes from the poem about the Scots-Irish
We’ll join in jubilation for the thing that we are not;
For we say we aren’t Irish and God knows we aren’t Scot!
Notwithstanding this cynical disparagement, the evidence from the heavy traffic on Ancestry.com noticeboards is that a goodly proportion of visitors who seek their Northern Irish roots are indeed Scots-Irish.
Ballinderry (McCusker, McGuckin)
Ballyscullion (Cassidy, Davidson, Scullion)
Balteagh (Kane, Loughrey, Oliver)
Banagher (Hassan, Kane, McCluskey)
Bovevagh (Brolly, Moore)
Faughanvale (Craig, McGuinness)
Learmount (Keane, McDonagh)
Lissan (Conlon, Crookes)