An initial piece of research can be carried out by the novice family historian from family records and on the internet from the comfort of one’s office at home. One of the most useful on-line resources, used in conjunction with this site’s Excel spreadsheet, is History from Headstones. The researcher will however, armed with what information they have acquired, most likely soon find it necessary to engage the services of a Genealogy Centre. This may be possible on a first-hand basis if the researcher is able to visit a repository of official records which are to be found at General Records Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI). This office holds Birth Indexes 1864 onwards, Death Indexes 1864 onwards, Marriage Indexes 1845 onwards and World War II Death Indexes 1939-1945. Roman Catholic marriages were only registered from 1864 and GRO only hold marriages from 1922. There are a limited number of spaces in the public search room and only one person is permitted per terminal so appointments should be made a few weeks in advance to be sure.

Assisted Searches by members of GRO staff for any period of years and any number of entries costs £24.00 per hour. Computerised indexes are available for searching at a cost of £10.00 for a total of 6 hours or part thereof but this service is not yet available by internet. It is possible that an arrangement could be made for such a search to be carried out for a researcher abroad and the cost includes 4 verifications of entries by staff, with the option of further verifications at £2.50 each.

Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
66 Balmoral Avenue
Belfast BT9 6NY
Northern Ireland

Under the Public Records Act (Northern Ireland) the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) accepts into its care any record that it deems worthy of preservation. Records have come from private individuals, Diocesan Bodies and political parties that have been evaluated for their historical value. If of sufficient importance, most of these records are open to the public. PRONI also has copies of newspapers that in some cases date back to the mid eighteenth century which include

  • Derry Journal
  • Sentinel
  • Derry Standard
  • Coleraine Chronicle
  • Coleraine Constitution
  • Londonderry Chronicle
  • Londonderry Guardian
  • Derry People and Donegal News – Internet edition

One of the most important collections held in the Public Record Office is PRONI Church Records . These records are of particular value to anyone interested in tracing their family tree as they usually contain the registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, many of which predate civil registration.

The Genealogy Centre in 10 Craft Village, Shipquay Centre, Derry City BT48 6AR, TEL. 44 (0) 28 71269792 FAX + 44 (0) 28 71360921 has about 1.2 Million genealogical records and initial enquiries are replied to within a week of receipt. Their research service is based on records, dating from 1642, extracted from the major civil and church registers of County Derry and Inshowen, County Donegal. A standard charge of £40 is levied after an initial positive search and before any further work is undertaken.  A more accessible and on-line service has recently become available, courtesy of the History and Museum Service in Derry.

The Local Studies Central Library 35 Foyle Street, Londonderry BT48 6AL also offers a localised service to enquirers. The main records include:

  • Roman Catholic records, the earliest of which date from 1773
  • Church of Ireland records (Anglician/Episcopalian) commence in 1642
  • Presbyterian records date from 1809
  • Emigration and passenger records covering much of the 19th Century
  • Census records available from as early as 1831

Holdings also include: Derry Cathedral Register 1642-1702, 1703-1717 Shipping List, 1833/1834 Register of Freeholders (Londonderry), Colby’s O.S. memoirs of L’Derry 1837, extensive collection of maps ranging from Siege and Plantation eras, access to the Ulster American Folk Park database which contains passenger lists, emigrant letters, deaths and marriages of former emigrants and other useful genealogical information. Additional records which have been located by Eileen Nabiloff, Diana Hanson-Muir and Dan Wilson at the local genealogical Centre and which may prove in cases to be of assistance include Census Substitute Records; Miscellaneous Records from Derry; 1831 Census for Dunboe Parish.

Before exploring the Irish records, researchers from abroad should have also checked the Births,Deaths and Marriages (BDM) records of their own country of origin. Australians are particularly fortunate in the excellent state of preservation of their New South Wales BDM records unlike in Ireland where many of the records were lost in the 1922 fire. The closest that is available in Ireland to family records that are in one place and not piecemeal is the mid-nineteenth century Griffiths Census 1845. A classic piece of family research at its best which could be a good template for any researcher must be that on the Fergusons. Otherwise, professional help is available from:

Emerald Ancestors
The Irish Family History Foundation
Ulster Historical Foundation



Also, available to be purchased is a wealth of historical information in the form of books and CD Immigration Lists to U.S., Australia and elsewhere. A thorough search for ancestors could include the following:

  • Memories of elderly relatives
  • BMD (Births, Marriages and Deaths) certificate information
  • Local information from area of settlement e.g. newspaper cuttings
  • Headstone inscription information
  • Wills
  • State Records
  • Emigration Records incl. port of entry
  • Shipping Lists
  • Ellis Island records
  • Naturalisation Papers
  • National Archives (Dublin)
  • PRONI Records
  • LDS (on-line or microfiche)
  • Property Valuations
  • Tithe Records
  • Griffiths Valuation
  • Flaxgrowers Lists
  • Church Registers
  • Muster Rolls
  • Hearthmoney Rolls
  • Tenement Valuation records
  • Y-DNA

3 responses to “Intermediate

  1. donfad

    June 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

  2. donfad

    February 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Response to Juliana

    I believe the queries you raise are of broad interest but, for the moment, my own thoughts about your questions go as follows:

    1. Mispellings or alternate spellings were commonplace, probably a combination of the low literacy (less than 50% at best) and the thick Ulster accent. Griffiths on-line makes some allowance for this as it will search from the first three letters of a surname.
    2. Township is not a recognised term that I know of in Ireland. The units were townland, parish or barony (older). (Newtown)-limavady was a townland, but also a town, of the parish of Drumachose. It is now just called Limavady of course.
    3. Primogeniture was made compulsory for Catholics and desirable for Presbyterians. C of I could do what they liked and there were political reasons for all this.
    4. Anytime after 1730 would be normal enough for an influx from Scotland or North England as there was am economic boom up till 1775.
    5. I have never come across Dremacada, sounds like a mispelling.
    6. I think it was usual for 12 year olds to be considered as adults and not unheard of for ones that young to have to find their way to America unaccompanied. Scary, when you think of it!

  3. londonderry

    October 14, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    My Irish ancestors lived on Inch Island. My great-grandmother, Josephine Elder Brandon, came to America in April, 1893 and kept in touch with her family in Ireland until her death in 1959. We have some wonderful letters and photos and other documents about her family, the Elder family, and their home (the Grove) on Inch Island. The Grove was sold out of the family in the 1960s.

    Her mother was the headmistress of the Inch National School for 50 years and her father was the Master of the Orangeman Lodge there. (I mention that only as something of historical interest, not because we American descendants have any opinions about his views on the issues of his time and place; it does certainly indicate that he was a man of his times!)

    The reason I am contacting you is that I would like to find out if there is any historical society (e.g. Londonderry) that might be interested in copies of some very interesting family papers we have that relate to the history of Inch Island in my great-grandmother’s time. Nothing too major, just some family letters about life at the Grove and on Inch Island and a scrapbook kept by the Orangeman ancestor, full of clippings relating to his view of the divided society of his time.) I would be happy to donate copies for historical archives that include material on Inch Island.

    I only recently visited beautiful Ireland for the first time and was astounded by our visit to Inch Island to see the Grove, which is still there and is being remodelled. I saw the country lane that leads to Lough Swilly and thought how often my great-grandmother and her 9 brothers and sisters must have walked down to the seaside on that lane, past the little church next door to the Grove where her parents and some siblings are laid to rest. The many stories she told about her childhood in Ireland sprang to life when I saw where she grew up and lived until she was 22 years old and ventured by herself to America, sailing from Moville. Anyway, if you know of any historical society or group who might be interested in adding some primary Inch Island historical materials to their archives please let me know. I did contact the County Donegal Historical Society since Inch Island is actually in that county but did not hear back from them. So I decided to give Londonderry a try because in the letters of the Elder family, Londonderry is often mentioned.


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