West Cork Farmers and/or Merchants in Your Family?

With so many family historians cooped up at home shielding themselves and others from Covid-19, we have been making more frequent updates to the Society’s Early Irish Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes to assist in keeping folk busy – and distracted – with their genealogical research.

In this update we are adding a further 2,206 records to the database. These comprise: 1,320 births and 886 deaths.

Most of these have been supplied by IGRS member Hilary Jarvis who scours old and rare publications for obscure references to births, deaths, and marriages – the sort of material that is often overlooked. Many of these works are privately published, perhaps with only one of two copies now in existence. In this tranche of data references have been drawn from such works as The Families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, The Barclays of New York: Who They Are and Who They Are Not – And Some Other Barclays, and  Annals of the Sinnots, Rogers, Coffin, Corlies, Revves, Bodine and Allied Families, all of which were published between 1900 and 1910.

Additionally, a smaller though highly valuable amount of data has been drawn from 18th and 19th century leases recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Submitted by Ron Price, a regular contributor to the Registry of Deeds Indexing Project, it relates exclusively to alternative sources for births.

In Ireland shorter leases, those designed to raise income for the landlord, generally ran for a period of years and for the lives of three named individuals on the basis of “whichever shall be the longer”. Thus a thirty year lease would expire at the end of that term if all three named lives were by then deceased. But the alternative scenario was that at the end of the term of years the lease might continue until all three of the named lives had died. In many instances, this might extend the term of the lease by several decades.

It was, however, a gamble. The younger the person that was named, the longer they might live. But, this had to be balanced by the fact that infant mortality was high.

Commenting on this practice the Early BMD Index project coordinator Roz McCutcheon said: “While most northern counties liked to name three junior members of the Royal family, because they might more likely survive to adulthood, the farmers and merchants in southern counties preferred to name their own children, or those of neighbours. For genealogists, this practice provides a rich seam to mine “.

Ron’s main interest is West Cork and hence the wealth of family detail drawn from there in this update, much of which refers to that area’s farming and merchant classes. By way of example, one ROD memorial dating from 1811 notes two Cork men, probably brothers, and their sons. Michael, born about 1809, is recorded as the son of Cornelius Driscoll; and Timothy, born about 1807, the son of Denis Driscoll. Another memorial records that in 1814 Mr Florence McCarthy of Co. Cork had a son called James who was then aged 16 and thus born about 1798.

While the Marriage Index is completely free to all,  the Birth and Death Indexes are resources reserved for IGRS Members only. However, anyone can still make a search for names. Click here for more information.

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