Thursday, May 23, 2013

Compelling Reasons Why Our Irish Ancestors Left The Emerald Isle

The following article was originally written for (see Ireland, "Emigration & Immigration")

Reasons Irish Emigrated

Emigrants leave Ireland.jpg
The Irish throughout history had many reasons for leaving Ireland. As well many among those remaining in Ireland would have emigrated but were unable to, due to poverty or impoverishment. Many Irishmen during the Great Famine years who did embark were in such sickened and critically weakened condition that death followed many while traversing the high seas to their new world home.
Generally, the Irishman's reasons for emigrating--if not compelled to do so, to countries abroad were due to an intolerable convergence of circumstances including, but not limited to:

  • dire economic conditions that destituted families
  • austere political policies such as the Crown's Penal laws (from 1695-1829)
  • a series of circumstances surrounding devastating crop failures especially in the mid-19th Century.
  • social and religious persecution against most nonconformists and Catholics (the dominant segment of Irish society)
Here's a little closer look at the devastating effects of the Penal Laws and other reasons for emigrating.

Dunseverick Harbour - - 24159.jpg
     A look at Dunseverick Harbour

Many local people began their long emigration trail during the 1800s, being rowed out to catch a passing schooner bound for Glasgow or Londonderry (see above view) where they would embark on one of the many emigrant ships to Australia, New Zealand or the Americas.

If the 17th and 18th century Penal laws of the Royal Crown leveled at many Nonconformist societies, and in Ireland--especially Catholic society and later, i.e. the Highland Clearances in Scotland--could mostly be summed up in one word:  "brutalisation" seems to fit the bill for those times. For example, from at least as early as the year 1603, imagine a family homestead which prior to this time was once held by the family for several centuries, but was suddenly ripped from beneath their feet and which forced many onto the 'street' in abject poverty practically overnight.
These and other intolerable conditions in Ireland forced Irish (especially Catholic) emigrants to leave the country.
There were four central motivating factors which caused so many Irishmen to turn their backs on their homeland, in order to escape and thrive in a new existence abroad:

Political Culture of Persecution 

  • Austere taxation and tithes policies
  • Continual doctrine of ‘Conquer and divide’ policies enacted over centuries seized and evicted lands from native Irish Catholics
  • Could not hold public office  
  • Could not practice law
  • Cruel landlords (not all--as there were compassionate ones among the many)
  • Sponsorship of land price increases ('rent-racking')--allowed to unbearable rate levels--tossed hoards of already poor families, ‘out onto the street’
  • Could not build a (i.e. Catholic) chapel/parish or live within 5 miles of the civil parish church
  • Disallowance of land ownership for all Catholics


  • British government backed England’s grain exportations—but not Ireland’s; farmers emigrated
  • New farming techniques increased output, decreasing the need for agricultural laborers
  • Manufacturing industries sprang up, causing less emphasis in farming
  • Irish poor-law provided means by which vast numbers were granted mostly free passage to countries abroad

Social and Religious

Ireland Church Tower.jpg

A culture of social and religious persecution by the local Protestant-led and British Crown government was manifest in utter disregard and total distrust of Catholics’ loyalty to the Crown, and escalated to harsher laws enacted, such as the 1695 Penal laws passed by the Crown government, which stripped many Nonconformists and of course Catholics in Ireland of their civil rights to—
  • choose between attendance in a Catholic, or a Protestant place of worship
  • vote
  • enter a profession
  • receive an education
  • serve as officers in British armed forces
  • teach in, or enroll in colleges
  • defend themselves with weapons
  • be employed or an employer in a trade or in commerce
  • own a horse of greater value than five pounds
  • purchase nor lease land
  • inherit land or moveables from a Protestant
  • buy or receive a gift of land from a Protestant
  • rent any land that was worth more than thirty shillings a year
  • reap from his land any profit exceeding a third of the rent
  • be a guardian to a child
  • hold a life annuity 
  • leave infant children under Catholic guardianship
  • accept a mortgage on land in security for a loan
  • attend Catholic worship
  • educate his child
  • be instructed by a local Catholic teacher nor be educated abroad
  • practice their own religion outside of the Protestant faith

Crop Failures 

  • Devastating crop failures—especially The Great Famine from 1846 to 1851 decimated or starved to death, nearly a million people
  • British government’s lack of food aid to Ireland during The Great Famine coerced nearly half the surviving population to leave Ireland
  • Famine brought abject poverty, severe malnutrition inducing poor health, and adversely affected (to some--even death) 3-4 million Irish
  • During the Great Famine years: Grains out of Ireland, were exported to England, while Irish were dying from the famine or causes due to it
Overall, some of the great positives borne out of these waves of Irish emigrants was the fact that millions the world over, have benefited from their rich Irish heritage.  On the backs of their respective Irish ancestors, each descendant (or not) has reaped the benefits of solid industrial and manufacturing infra-structures in their current societies such as in the Americas--the building of the extensive railroad, canals, steel and iron foundries, highways and remote byway systems, and often strong political leadership roles played in the evolvement and development of each nation's local and national governments.

Further Reading

1. O hEithir, Breandan, A Pocket History of Ireland, The O'Brien Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1989
2. MacManus, Seamus, The Story of the Irish Race, The New York Irish Publishing Co., 1921

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Probate (i.e. wills) researching in England heretofore has been a fairly complex research process. For drawing accurate conclusions and connections to prior generations in especially the pre-1858 and/or pre-civil registration (pre-1837) era, few records do so any better than wills. Where extant, they often play a major role in genealogical provenance.

Recently, however, the 'difficulty' level has just been majorly adjusted and turned down a couple of notches! Why?
Did you know that just about all of England's counties now have indexes--most of them quite significant--available online?

Those who use and research in England's probate records--including wills, administrations/admons, inventories, codicils and etc., may also be very pleased to learn that (click "England", then click the county of interest, then "Probate") gives quick step-by-steps for researching in and pointing you to each rich online county resources to these records.

The key to using probate records is knowing in and by which probate court jurisdiction your ancestor's parish of residence at death--was covered. And the Wiki provides you not only with one but several (ranked) possible probate court jurisdictions in which the target parish comes under--critical information for deciding which court[s] to search. For example: The F.S. Wiki points you to David Wright's all-London Wills Index ~1750 to 1858 (now at FindMyPast).
The Wiki is updated with similar information on all new critical online resources researchers need to more quickly locate wills, by displaying and sharing links to these online indexes to wills (and other records). And the best part? Most of them are free or at low cost to you.

Thanks to the Wiki, you can easily determine that most England counties now have online indexes to wills, admons and other probate records. Amazingly, only a few counties do not offer much online, but which is constantly changing. 

Current online Internet offerings, would you believe, renders finding probate records in England significantly easier, thus making research in original probate records themselves, a lot more fun!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

London Huguenot Record Treasures at FamilySearch

England and the especially the greater London region by 1686 became a vast refuge for many French Huguenots. France's King placed a virtual death warrant on all Huguenots, declaring each person in a sense, as 'enemies of the state', and which flushed numerous among their flocks, out into the world, including North America, South Africa, West Indies, Scandinavia, Russia and other places.

Records of the French Huguenot chapels in the Greater London region are quite extensive. Over a century, these registers have been published by the Huguenot Society of Great Britain (London). They have also been microfilmed formerly by the Genealogical Society of Utah (now In particular, the christenings now, like never before, have been mostly indexed and transcribed and made available online at

The following is a list of those French Huguenot chapels of Greater London and the ranges of years, for which christenings are now available to be searched--at Note that most marriages after 1754 were required by the law to have been performed in Anglican or that is--Church of England parishes; as well, burials of Huguenots also often occurred in the local parish churchyard; or in (Greater) London Nonconformist burial grounds such as Spa-Fields, Bunhill Fields cemeteries:

1. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (La Patents French Huguenot), christenings, 1689-1785
2. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (Wheeler Street French Huguenot), christenings, 1703-1742
3. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (Saint Jean French Huguenot), christenings, 1687-1823
4. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (The Artillery, French Huguenot), christenings, 1691-1786
5. Chapel register  of Stepney, London, England, (Crispin Street French Huguenot), christenings, 1694-1716
6. Chapel register  of Stepney, London, England, (Swanfields, French Huguenot), christenings, 1721-1735
7. Chapel register  of Stepney, London, England, (Bell Lane and Browns Lane and Marche Church, French Huguenot), christenings, 1709-1740
8. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (West Street, French Huguenot), christenings, 1706-1743
9. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Hungerford Market or Castle Street, French Huguenot), christenings, 1688-1756
10. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Patente Soho or Le Temple, French Huguenot), christenings, 1689-1782
11. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Petit Charenton, French Huguenot), christenings, 1701-1705
12. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Rider Court, French Huguenot), christenings, 1700-1738
13. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Carre Street and Berwick Street, French Huguenot), christenings, 1690-1788
14. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Tabernacle Milck Alley, French Huguenot), christenings, 1696-1719
15. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Glasshouse Street and Leicester Fields, French Huguenot), christenings, 1688-1783
16. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Chapelle Royale de Saint James, French Huguenot), christenings, 1738-1756
17. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Pearl Street Chapel, French Huguenot), christenings, 1698-1701
18. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Swallow Street Chapel, French Huguenot), christenings, 1689-1708
19. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Savoye De Spring Gardens and Des Grecs, French Huguenot), christenings, 1680-1871
20. Chapel register  of London, London, England, (Threadneedle Street, French Huguenot Church), christenings, 1600-1840
21. Chapel register  of Hoxton, London, England, (French Huguenot), christenings, 1751-1783

To obtain further information about your Huguenot ancestry and to access numerous additional records which provide important perspectives and clues about them, be certain to contact the Huguenot Society of Great Britain. They hold online treasures as well for ancestry among this very fascinatingly conscientious and passionate group of Christian followers--including the Quarto Books (now online) and more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Both Irelands blow the ceiling off of BMD prices!!

Both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have very recently exploited expanded their pricing for copies of births, marriages and death certificates--from 8 to 20 per certificate, or from about $13.50 to $25 U.S.! Unofficial copies of certificate prices have not thus far been addressed thus far.

Formerly, prices were  8 for certificates and 2 for searches! In mean, after all is said and done, paper itself is valued only so much. So just why the draconian price-increase can only be construed as price-gouging.

On a positive note, Irish researchers will be thrilled to learn that is starting a new webpage for Ireland, with free searches in their 21million name database, which is drawn from not only births, marriages and deaths (up to 1921 for Northern Ireland counties), but from newspaper notices, wills, and other record sources. Free searches commence on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

London east's synagogues - a List

For Jews in England, Greater London by far was the favored place of settlement and residence of choice. Out of this region's numerous townships and cities (there were at least 30 Greater London township boroughs by the year 1870), and London's east-end held well over 50 Jewish synagogues. The United Synagogue held heirarchical jurisdiction over these congregations.

Here is a list of Greater London's East-end synagogues as of the latter part of the 19th century, taken from, a Guide to Ancestral Research in London; some provide the year of commencement, as noted.

The list of synagogues prior to 1900, includes--

  • Adler Street Synagogue
  • Alie Street Synagogue – Aldgate St - 18?
  • Agudath Achim Synagog. – Aldgate Old Castle St 1880’s
  • Austrian (Dzikower) Synagogue London E.1
  • Beth Hamedrash Maharish Synagogue
  • Bikkur Cholim Sons of Lodz Chevra Newcastle St. London E1 - 1887
  • Cannon Street Road Synagogue London E.1
  • Tchechenover (Chechanover) Synagogue) London E.5 & E.1 - 1896
  • Old Montague Street Synagogue Chevrah Shass, London E.1 - by 1896
  • Chevrah Torah Synagogue Princelet St, Lon. E.1 - 1890's
  • Commercial Road Talmud Torah Synagogue Christian Street, London E.1. & Stamford Hill, London N.16 - by 1898
  • Crawcour Synagogue London E.1 - 1887
  • East London Synagog. Stepney Green, London E.1 - 1877
  • Fashion Street Synagogue London E.1 – 1858
  • Flasch's Synagogue London E.1 - prior to 1870
  • Fournier Street Synagogue London E.1 – 1896
  • Goulston Street Synagogue London E.1 - prior to 1870
  • Great Garden St. Synagog. (Greatorex St, Lon. E.1 – 1894
  • Greenfield Rd Syn. Commercial Rd, London E.1 - by 1896
  • The Hambro' Synagogue City of London, EC3 & Commercial Rd, London E1 – 1707
  • Hope Street Synagogue ("Sons of Covenant" Friendly Society) London E.1 – 1880
  • "House of David United Brethren" Chevra London E.1 - by 1887
  • "Jerusalem" Chevra London E.1 - by 1887
  • United Kalischer Synagogue London E.1 - by 1887
  • Kehol Chesidim Synagog.Whitechapel, Lon. E.1 – by 1896
  • Konin Synagogue Hanbury Street, London E.1 - 1882
  • Machzike Shomrei Shabbat Synagogue - prior to 1893
  • Peace & Tranquillity (Buckle Street formerly Mansell St) Synagogue London E.1 - by 1887
  • Mansell Street (or Zussman's) Synagogue) London E.1 – prior 1870
  • Mikra Chevrah Synagogue (or, Plotzker, Fashion Crt Chevra) Lon. E.1 – 1858
  • Mile End New Town Synagogue London E.1 – 1880
  • Moses Moore's Synagogue, London E.1 - abt 1840
  • New Road Synagogue Whitechapel, London E.1 – 1892
  • North Bow & Victoria Prk Synagogue Lond. E.3 – 1894
  • Poplar Associate Synagogue Poplar, London E.14 – 1892
  • Prescot Street Synagogue (formerly Rosemary La. Congregation) London E.1 - 1870's (see also Gun Yard Polish Syn.and Cutler St Polish Syn.)
  • Princelet Street Synagogue Spitalfields, London E.1 - 1862
  • St. Mary Street Synagogue London E.1 - 1896
  • The Sandys Row Synagogue Middlesex Street, London E.1 - 1853
  • Scarborough Street Synagogue (formerly Gun Yard)
  • "Polish" Synagogue; (see also Rosemary La.) City of London, London E.C.3 - 1792
  • Spitalfields Great Synagogue -1898
  • Spital Square (formerly German) Synagogue, New Broad St. or Old Broad St) of Spital Sq., Bishopsgate, London E1 – 1858
  • Vine Court Synagogue Whitechapel, London E.1 – 1896
  • Voice of Jacob Chevra London E.1 - by 1887
  • Warsaw (Gun Str.) Synagogue) Lon. E.1 - by1895
  • Wellington Rd Synagogue & B'Noth Zion Hebrew Classes
  • White's Row Synagogue London E.1 - by 1870
  • Winsor Street Chevra London E.1 - by 1887

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Genealogist's UK's photostream

WestminsterCityArchWestminster Abbey northside viewSouthwark St George The MartyrQueens University, BelfastScotlandsPeopleGROKensingtonSoHydeParkChplNFHC
The Scottish National Archives, New Register House, Edinburgh(Old) Public Record Office of Northern IrelandDoorway into (Edinburgh)Dundee City Archives CentreThe National Archives, UK at KewLondon Metropolitan Archives & Library
The National Library, Ireland, Kildare St., DublinSt Marys Parish, RotherhitheSt Mary Croft Westminster (House of Parliament Chapel)Bermondsey St John the BaptistWestminster St Clement Danes (frontage)Southwark St Saviour Cathedral's stately tower
Southwark Cathedral St SaviourLondon General Lying In Hospital, South ThamesQueens College, DublinPerth Road Cemetery nr West Park U., Dundee, ScotlandThe Old Guildhall, LondonSt. Margaret Westminster (next to the Abbey of Westminster)

Finally! Lancashire Ancestral Research Un-plugged!

Lancashire is one of the most complex (and populated ) counties in which to trace ancestry. Lancashire originally had only about 76 parishes, and unlike most other England counties, was comprised by far of mostly (over 400) chapels of ease (chapelries) of the Church of England,  each of  which subdivided the parish to which it was attached. These numerous smaller chapels of ease and district chapels comprise a vast portion of its geographical tapestry and each one possessed registers of baptisms, and sometimes burials, and in only a few isolated cases, marriages, i.e. in the pre-1754 or, post-1837 eras.

Key Strategy: Always be certain to search for your ancestor[s] in ALL chapelries of a parish and their registers as well in the registers of its ancient parish.

Because of this unique attribute in Lancashire church records research, identifying each chapel's parish to which each was attached  is paramount to thoroughness in research. Accurately identifying all chapels was until recently fairly difficult, and especially required comprehensive, diligent study in more than one or two reference aids in order to accurately list all chapels and churches. 

However, today, I am thrilled to announce that starting November 12, 2012, FamilySearch's Wiki for Lancashire has just made researching in the county of Lancashire a much less formidable task! Editors and compiler-volunteers for the last 14 months have performed all the leg-work and due diligence to simplify and bring to you and your desktop or laptop--almost all available online resources at no or little cost--links to Lancashire's vast and complex tapestry of churches, chapels and parish registers' online data content!  The links to online data include to as late as the twentieth century! And, as accurately as can be determined--a formal List of all chapels of ease, chapelries, district churches, and parochial chapels lying within the boundary of each ancient parish, and with mentions of most or all other denominations found within each parish and/or township boundary (as of at least 1851).

For the first time, Lancashire researchers no longer have to do the nearly futile due diligent study to try to determine all chapels attached to a parish, because the Wiki user is introduced to not only a page for each chapel or district chapelry (with links to online data), but with also a link to the page[s] to the ancient parish (to which it was attached). *The Parish pages provides researchers with a comprehensive list of the names of all chapelries, district churches, and ecclesiastical parishes found within the boundary of each parish and, with available links to each's online data--plus much more!

So test FamilySearch's Lancashire Wiki's "Parish" pages today, and discover your family ancestry more quickly than ever!

Here are the links that take you directly to the critical pages:

 Have fun with these pages, and while you're at it--   Happy(!) Ancestry Hunting in Lancashire!!