Genealogy

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Entry Level

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 organised 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 neighbours. 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, coordinator of this website at donmac@doctors.org.uk

Parish Name Neighbours Townland Ethnicity
Aghadowey Bartley*** Cunningham Ballynacally Scots-Irish
Agivey Boyle McElroy Mullaghmore Native
Arboe Donaghy Browne Drummullan Scots-Irish
Artrea Berryman*** Allen Ballyneill Scots-Irish

 The prevalence of the commonest names in Derry makes it that more difficult for family researchers 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).

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 have been created on this website for most of the names listed below so as to show their places of origin prior to arriving in Derry. Those names not linked are no less important but are ommitted either because there are no suitable links or the names are septs of predominant clans which are listed, such as Kanes and Dohertys. It will be obvious from most of these links how much there is of a Scots-Irish connection.

  • A
    Aghadowey (Gilmore,Mullen,Miller), Aghanloo (Mullen,Wilson), Agivey (
    Hunter,Boyle), Arboe, Artrea (Browne, Devlin).
  • B
    Ballinderry (McCusker, McGuckin), Ballyaghran (Martin), Ballymoney,Ballynascreen (
    Bradley), Ballyrashane (Stirling), Ballyscullion (Cassidy, Davidson ,Scullion), Ballywillin (McNeill), Balteagh (Kane, Loughrey Oliver), Banagher (Hassan,Kane, McCluskey), Bovevagh (Brolly, Moore).
  • C
    Carrick, Clondermot (
    Doherty, McLoughlin, Kelly), Coleraine (Black, Clarke, Glenn), Cumber Lower (Quigley), Cumber Upper (Devine, Rosborough, McDonough)
  • D
    Derryloran, Desertlyn (Devlin), Desertmartin (Henry,
    McGovern, McCrystle), Desertoghill (Dimond, Torrens), Drumachose (Boyle, Smith), Dunboe (Blair, Lees), Dungiven (Irwin, Kane, McCluskey).
  • E-F
    Errigal(
    Gilmore, McNicholl, O'Kane), Faughanvale (Craig, McGuinness), Formoyle.
  • K
    Kilcronaghan (Clarke, Lyle,
    Nelson), Kildollagh , Killelagh (Bradley, Convery, McIldowney ,McKenna), Killowen , Kilrea ( Bicknell, Hagarty, McKay).
  • L-M
    Learmount (Keane, McDonagh), Lissan (Conlon, Crookes), Macosquin (Black, Campbell,
    Kennedy), Maghera (Anderson, Connor, Convery), Magherafelt (Graham, Johnstone , Stewart), Magilligan (Doherty).
  • T
    Tamlaght Finlagan (Connor), Tamlaght O'Crilly (Cassidy, Henry,
    McCahy), Tamlaghtard (McCoy, McErlane), Templemore (Coyle, Crawford , Cunningham) and Termoneeny.

     

  • Genealogy - Next Level

    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. 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 census alternative Griffiths Census 1845

    If family researchers wish to explore their family roots in more depth but to forego the steep learning curve and effort required to do this themselves, professional help is available at moderate cost from

  • GoIreland.com

  • 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

    Genealogy - Advanced Level

    Researchers may not only be interested in finding out about their own family trees but may wish to understand more about the lives and times of their ancestors. Acquiring this depth of understanding brings with it a real sense of being transported back into a different age and a sense of personal contact with ancestors that family trees by themselves cannot hope to give. A good place to start is to subscribe to the quarterly journal, Genealogica, that is published by the Ulster Historical Foundation. Extensive libraries are also maintained by the Linenhall Library in Belfast and the Ulster American Folk Park

    For serious amateur historians, insights into the prevailing circumstances that led over two centuries to mass emigration from Derry can be gleaned from a wealth of in-print Books on Ulster and books on Early Irish Abroad. Three books in particular that deserve particular mention are 'Internal Colonialism - The Celtic Fringe in British national development 1536-1966' by Prof. Michael Hechter of Seattle, 'The Catholics of Ulster' by Prof. Marianne Elliott of Liverpool and 'Tenant Right and Agrarian Society in Ulster 1600-1870' by Dr. Martin W. Dowling. A detailed account of everyday life in a typical parish in Ulster is also to be found at Parish Records for Aghadowey

    Details of those who sailed as free and convicted passengers on ships to the New World and the conditions they suffered can be found at Moville and Derry Sailings, Peter Mayberry, Ships List and Oz Ships. The list of passengers on the fateful 1834 'Adam Lodge' voyage to New South Wales and reasons for their demise on board ship can be obtained from Dr. Don MacFarlane at donmac@doctors.org.uk. The conditions of passengers emigrating from Derry to the New World during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were often brutal and inhumane as seen in a transcript from an account given by the Master of the 'Adam Lodge'. By the time of its arrival four months later, there had been many deaths including 23 infants or babes-in-arms, caused by with-holding of rations by the Master as punishment for what he perceived as poor standards of hygiene in the passengers! Notwithstanding that Master Osborne was obliged to give an account to the English Parliament of his part in this tragedy, his reward some years later was to be appointed a member of the New South Wales Parliament.