Searching Irish Civil BMD Records online

Searching Irish Civil BMD Records online

Historic Civil BMD records consist of two collections, Registers Books and Index books. The National Registers and Indexes for all of Ireland were kept by the General Register Office (GRO), in Dublin. The head office for the Republic of Ireland is now located in Roscommon (town), with Civil BMD Records for Northern Ireland held by the General Register Office – Northern Ireland (GRONI).

The registers contain the details of the births, marriages and deaths copied from returns made to the GRO head office from the regional registration offices. The index books were also compiled from these as a system built to help locate individual records in these register books.

Each type of record, i.e. births marriages and deaths, have a separate set of index books, one for each year, with one for each quarter after 1878. All three sets of Index books list the name of child, bride/groom or name of deceased in alphabetical order by surname and first name, followed by the registration district, volume and page. For marriages there is a double entry in the index, one from the bride and another for the groom. These should both appear in the same index book and section (i.e. Year or Year/Quarter), and have matching volume and page numbers.

1. Indexes

b) The FamilySearch transcripts were based on microfilms made of the GRO National Index books. This index is free to access at FamilySearch and the index details were transcribed and indexed by volunteers and also currently available on Ancestry and FindMyPast.  Each of these websites allows searches by first and surname with or without variations, and include date and registration district filters. All the sites allow for the use of wildcard searches.

Each site has it’s own pros and cons, some systems, e.g. the FamilySearch, appear to cope slightly better with name variations, both first and surnames, but does not cope as well with searches by county, particularly where the name is also used for the name of a registration district, e.g. Cork or Wexford. The Ancestry search only allows entry of a single year rather as an estimate rather than from-to dates, but includes a fuzzy algorithm and ranks results according to relevance.

The FindMyPast search is the only one of the three websites which allows selection of both county and/or registration district as a search filter, and copes well with districts across more than one county. The search also allows selection of a filter based on several registration districts, which can be particularly useful in area searches e.g. Dublin South/Rathdown/Naas. Both the Ancestry and FindMyPast systems have a marriage cross-match function, which show a lists of possible matching brides or grooms based on entries with the same index references.

The FamilySearch Index covers from the start of civil records up to 1958 for counties in the Republic of Ireland, and up to 1921 for counties in Northern Ireland.

c) The GRO ‘index’ system on the free IrishGenealogy website is based on transcripts carried out from the original National GRO Index Books. Recently the GRO started adding further details from the registers to the index system – e.g. date of birth for child & mother’s maiden surnames on births back to c1900, date of marriage and names of bride & groom on marriages back to the early 1880s. The index includes entries from the start of registration for births, marriages and deaths up to a 100/75/50 year cutoff  (1914 for births, 1940 for marriages and 1964 for deaths) and the search system covers copes with some name variation and also wildcards, and allows selection of a single registration district as filter.

The GRO / IrishGenealogy website also includes register images for all birth, i.e. 1964 to 1915, marriages from 1882 to 1940, and deaths from 1891 to 1964 (further records will be added). Many of these records on the use a new ‘Group Registration ID’ as a unique reference in place of the original year, volume and page references on the GRO Index .

The GRO/IrishGenealogy website includes records for counties now in Northern Ireland, up to the end of 1921, or the cut-off which ever applies first.

2. Civil Register Extracts of Births, Marriages & Deaths, formerly included as part of the old IGI system, include extracted partial details for civil record in many areas covering from the start of civil records (1845/1864) up to about 1880. The include some of the key details from the registers, e.g. on birth transcripts the name of the child, date of birth, names of parents, for marriages name of bride and groom, date of marriage, names of fathers. These extracts often include part of the index references, e.g page and/or volume numbers (**). Some of these partial extracted records also appear on Ancestry.

3. Transcripts

a) RootsIreland / Irish Family History Foundation subscription website includes transcripts, but not images, for civil Birth Marriage and Death records for some districts in a number of counties – based on their source list currently include Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry/Londonderry, Donegal, Down, Galway (East), Kilkenny, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath.

Check the various sources pages for details of which record types and districts are covered. Most include records up to about 1900, some districts up to the 1920s. (The Districts shown in some cases are Registration Sub-Districts, which are part of the overall
Superintendent Registrar’s Districts used on the GRO Index.)

b) EmeraldAncestors subscription website includes transcripts of civil records for counties in Northern Ireland, including some up to the 1920s.

c) Ulster History Foundation / AncestryIreland subscription website includes transcripts or civil records for counties Antrim and Down up to 1900.

d) GRONI / NIDirect includes both transcripts and images of civil Birth Marriage and Death records for Northern Ireland from the beginning of registration with a 100/75/50 year BMD cutoff. Purchase of Credits is required to view transcripts or images, but searches, which show enhanced index information, do not use up credits.

Offline – Research Certs can be ordered from the GRO using the references from the various index details (FamilySearch/Ancestry/FindMyPast or GRO Index). These cost €4, and cover all of Ireland up to 1921 and the Republic of Ireland thereafter. Official certs for legal purposes cost extra and are usually transcripts of the original record rather than copies of the register.

* copies of regional registers may also be available to search in some sub-districts, these do not use the same National Indexing system.

** Some of the captions are incorrect in these extracts, e.g. some dates of birth are shown as Christening date, which is a detail not included on birth records, the should read ‘date of birth’ and others have a field labelled ‘father’s birth place’, which is also not recorded and should read either child’s place of birth or “father’s current place of residence”. Place names shown in these extracts can be a townland, but often the name of a registration district, sub district, or county, and in some case the names of the street where the registration office was located – e.g. High Street, Dublin.

 

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Street Listings in Thom’s Dublin Directories

The Street listings included in Thom’s Dublin Directory can provide interesting details about the area your ancestors lived, for example neighbours, the types of businesses present on the same street, prominent  buildings and Churches nearby, and may help narrow down exactly which part of a street a particular family or business was located.

It should be noted that not all streets are included in these listings, e.g. minor lanes and some small side streets are not included, but some character of an area can still be established from details of nearby streets.

Street numbers were in use in the City for most streets during the 1800s, and in many cases the sequences used on each remained much the same up to modern times. Some streets were renumbered, especially during major redevelopment, and a number of streets were renamed, many in the early years of the 20th Century.

The 1848 Street listing for York Street is included as an example below.

Click to view full sized image

Listing for York St. – Thom’s 1848.
Header highlighted in Red, junctions in Green.

The heading section of each Street listed includes key details – see extract below of the details for York Street.

york_street_hdg_1848The street is shown as running ‘From Aungier Street to Stephen’s Green W.‘, and this indicates the direction in which the numbers initially run. In this case, as in many other streets, the numbers run down one side of the street with number 1 to 32, to the end at  Stephen’s Green West and continue the sequence from 33 to 58 returning back to Aungier Street on the other side. The heading also shows that all of the street is in St. Peter’s Civil parish, and numbers 1 to 16 and 46 to 58 in Castle Electoral Ward, and numbers 17 to 45 in St. Stephen’s Ward. The street is covered by B. Police Division.

The street is shown on maps of the time (see below) and based on the listing we can say that the initial numbers ran west to east. There are several clues to help determine which side the street each set of numbers were located, the first is using junctions of the main side streets, highlighted in green in the street listing above. In this case the junctions listed on the first side are shown as French St. between numbers 16 & 17, and Proud’s Lane between 31 & 32, and Mercer Street between number 45 and 46 on the other.

york_st_1848_ex

The city maps do not always label smaller streets, but in this instance the Thom’s 1848 Dublin City map includes French Street to the south and Mercer Street to the north in addition to Stephen’s Green and Aungier Street at each end of York Street, so numbers 1 to 32 ran along the south side of the street going west to east, and 33 to 58 ran east west along the north side.

Layout of the Street Numbers for York Street

Layout of the Street Numbers for York Street

Using the example of the baptism of Samuel Lenox Logan from the IrishGenealogy website  baptised in St. Peter’s Church of Ireland Parish on the 21st February 1846, with his parents address recorded as 48 York Street, we can show the family lived on the north side of York Street, and two buildings to the west of the junction with Mercer Street.

The later 1885 Thom’s Map (see extract below) shows Mercer St. Upper instead of French street, and the street listing for the same year shows Mercer Street Lower (the section nearer the city centre) as running from Stephen’s Street to York Street. Mercer Street Upper is shown as running from York Street to Cuffe Street, so the street previously shown as French Street.

york_st_king_st_1885_ex
Where Upper/Lower streets have Street Listings the header details for these can be used to verify where each is located – see details for Mercer Street Upper & Lower below.

img0481_mercer_1885c
The street listings include many prominent buildings which may also be shown on maps, and these can also help determine which side of the street each section of numbers are used. For example the map above shows the Gaiety Theatre on the north side of King Street South, and the street listing for that year includes the Theatre at numbers 48 & 49 (highlighted in red in extract below), showing that numbers 30 to 34, and 35 to 56 are on the north side of the street.

img0479_Sth_King_1885-ex
The listing for King Street South also shows a shared corner building – with Mrs. Nugent at no. 1 King Street South also having a Stephen’s Green West address, which is also included as no. 141 in Stephen’s Green West street listing.

In the case where a street name includes a North or South, e.g. King Street, this usually indicates that there is more than one street of that name in the city, one either side of the River Liffey.

Additional historic maps of the city are available on the OSI mapviewer (c1840, c1900 & Modern) and GeoHive (c1840, c1900, c1930 & Modern), in addition to the maps on this website.

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Historic Maps of Ireland available Online (Updated)

   
Ordnance Survey Maps Detailed modern and Historic map of Ireland – 6″ Historic and 6″ Historic B&W date from c1837 to abt. 1847, and the Historic 25″ date from the late 1890s to early 1900s, from Ordnance Survey Ireland
GeoHive maps Ordnance Survey Ireland of Ireland, with historic maps from 1830s/40s, c1900s and c1930s, plus a number of modern Aerial map layers
Northern Ireland Historic maps PRONI
Survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin 1757 With the division of the parishes reduc’d from the large plan in four sheets by John Rocque, from Bibliothèque Nationale de France
An Exact Survey of the City and Suburbs of Dublin 1756 In Which is Express’d the Ground Plot of all Publick Buildings Dwelling Houses, Ware Houses, Stables, Court Yards, &c, by John Rocque from Bibliothèque Nationale de France
A Survey of the City, Harbour, Bay and Environs of Dublin 1757 On the same Scale as those of London, Paris & Rome, by John Rocque from Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Modern Plan Of The City And Environs Of Dublin 1798 Inscribed by Wm Wilson, engraved by B. Baker, Islington, from MAPCO
Map of Ireland 1838 Compiled from the Surveys of the Board of Ordnance and other approved Documents By J. & C. Walker, from MAPCO
David Rumsey Map Collection Large Collection of maps
Old Maps Online Map Portal with links to various external websites
   
Various Historic maps of Ireland, Co. Dublin, Dublin City, Taylor & Skinner Road Maps 1777, Lewis 1837 County maps, etc (www.swilson.info)
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Show list of all towns in Registration District (or P.L.U.)

The new townland explorer may be used to show a list of all the town within any Superintendents Registrar’s District, more usually referred to as Registration Districts. Civil records are indexed by Registration districts and these appear in the original National GRO BMD Index books and also the various online copies of the BMD Index.

The Civil Registration Districts were generally based on the area covered by the Poor Law Union of the same name and based in a larger market towns. Initially there were 130 Poor Law Unions setup, although several were later created, e.g. Newport from Westport (later merged back into Westport), and others merged into adjacent districts – e.g. Gortin into Strabane & Omagh.  Several registration Districts covered areas in more than one county, e.g. Athlone, Rathdown, Youghal, Cootehill etc. The list of towns included can be useful in understanding the area covered by each district.

The townland explorer can also be used to establish the Registration District for an individual townland or town – enter part of the townland or town name in the search field, using wildcards as required. The results can be narrowed down by filtering using the county dropdown.

  1. Open the New Townland Explorer page, and tick the ‘Towns Only’ check-box

 

2. Select the Registration District or Poor Law Union from the dropdown list (type the first letter to skip to the correct part of the list)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. The towns included in the district or PLU are shown grouped by county, barony and civil parish.

4. The same process may be used to show a list of towns in a selected county or barony.
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To search within civil parishes it’s best to narrow down the list by first selecting a county, PLU, barony or combination of these. The civil parish list automatically updates to show only the included parishes.

Once any selection is made of county, PLU, Barony or Civil Parish, clear the ‘Towns Only’ check box to also show a more detailed list by civil parish, each of which may be expanded to show townlands, and towns included.
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Further reading :
Ireland: civil registration districts  from Irish Genealogy Toolkit (includes a map of districts)
Map of Poor Law Unions (Registration Districts) from John Grenham

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Milners’ Safes Advert – 1917

from Thom’s 1917, advertisement for Milners’ Safes with testimonials from Hamilton Long, Apothecary & Chemists, J. Gaynor & Son Merchants and mention of a safe retrieved with contents intact from the ruins of the G.P.O. (see transcript below)img0014-wp
Milners’ Safes in Dublin Fires
Remarkable Testimonials
Hamilton, Long & Co. Ltd., Apothecaries and Chemists, 3 Lower Sackville Street, Dublin

Dear Sirs – We have much pleasure in informing you that the contents of our two Milner Safes (one very large and one medium size), which included books, deeds and cash, were in perfect order when the Safes were opened almost one week after the disastrous fires which destroyed our premises along with 50 other business premises, in Sackville Street, and in addition almost 50 more in adjoining thoroughfares. We are quite satisfied the Safes were of first-class fire-resistant materials, as otherwise they could not have resisted the intense heat so successfully.  Yours faithfully…

J. Gaynor & Son, Cork Merchants, 74 & 75 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin

Dear Sirs – We think it due to your firm, to place on record the fact that our Milners’ Safe preserved its contents in perfect condition during the great conflagration which completely destroyed the block of buildings in which our premises were situated. We think this is remarkable, as the Safe was buried in the ruins for over a week. We may say the Safe is in our possession over 30 years. Yours faithfully

General Post Office, Dublin

From the Ruins of the General Post Office a Milner’ Fire-Resisting Safe was recovered. The contents, £7,000 in Bank Notes were found absolutely uninjured.

Call and inspect our Stock or Write for Catalogue

Milners’ Safe Co., Ltd
21 Dawson Street, Dublin

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