Archive of the Month
Registers for Taughboyne parishes transcribed and online to 1900
Archive of the Month – June 2014
To view various indexed transcripts click here.
Continuing our commitment to make available transcripts of parish registers online, for June’s Archive of the Month 2014 we head to the Laggan Valley in north east Donegal and specifically the group of parishes known as Taughboyne.
The current rector of this group which comprises Taughboyne with Craigadooish; All Saints’, Newtowncunningham and Killea is the Revd Canon David Crooks, who has not only faithfully served there since 1984, but is also an avid historian and compiler of biographical information about Church of Ireland clergy. To date, Canon Crooks has edited no less than seven of the 13 volumes in the recent programme to update and publish Canon Leslie’s diocesan clerical biographical succession lists The most recent of these have been Clergy of Cashel and Emly, and Leighlin, (complied with the late Revd Ian Knox in 2012) and the Clergy of Ossory of which he is sole editor and was published in 2013, while a further volume for the dioceses of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe is pending for press. Like many of the other volumes in the series, they have been published by the Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast.
In addition to his clerical succession list compilations, Canon Crooks has written a history of his parish group which is located in the fertile plain between Lough Swilly to the west and Lough Foyle to east, and bounded north by the mountainous Inishown Peninsula, and southwards by the route towards Raphoe.
Titled In the Footsteps of Saint Baithin (Ballyshannon, 1992) it charts the evolutionary story of Christianity in the Laggan (which means a flat or hollow place) when St Baithen, son of Brendan and disciple of St Columb brought the Christian faith to this place, which was flourishing towards the close of the sixth century. The book also contains specific histories of the Church of Ireland parishes in the area and a copy is available in the RCB Library. Canon Crooks is also author of Living Stones, a history of the churches and parishes of the Dioceses of Derry and Raphoe.
More recently still, he has completed the painstaking task of transcribing the surviving registers for three of the parishes in the group: namely Taughboyne itself where the registers date from 1820 onwards; All Saints Newtowncunningham a relatively modern parish carved out of Taughboyne in 1871, for which the registers date from 1877; and also the surviving registers for the parish of Killea, which became part of the group in 1969, and for which surviving recent registers only date from 1877 for baptisms, 1880 for burials and 1845 for marriages. Finally he has transcribed the separate register of baptisms maintained for the chapel of ease at Craigadooish between 1871 and 1907. The printed transcripts, together with a digital copy of each were presented recently by Canon Crooks to the RCB Library, and it is these transcripts up to and including the year 1900 that we are making available online this month.
Taughboyne, All Saints and Killea are examples of parishes that retain their original registers in local custody, but which will soon be transferred to the RCB Library which is the official place of deposit for all non–current parish registers in the Republic of Ireland – and indeed a growing number of post–disestablishment collections from Northern Ireland, as will be made clear in next months’ Archive of the Month (July 2014) when for the first time an online updated and accurate Table of Church of Ireland Parish Registers Throughout Ireland will be made available. This will provide a colour–coded alphabetical list of the surviving baptisms, marriages and burials for each parish, as well as information about what materials were lost (mostly as a result of the 1922 catastrophe at the Public Records Office of Ireland during the Irish Civil War); and finally where today in 2014 the vast quantity of surviving materials may be consulted. The list accounts for no less than 1091 parish register collections which are now safely housed and available to researchers in the RCB Library.
The list will further account for c. 500 collections which continue to remain in the parishes where they were created. The collections for Taughboyne, All Saints, Killea and Craigadooish represent examples of such locally–held collections, where they remain treasured and kept safe. Thanks to Canon Crooks’ painstaking work to transcribe them, and his generous gift to the RCB Library of the hard and digital copies, researchers and local historians with an interest in this area will now be able to consult them in the Library. In addition and available online for the first, worldwide researchers can view all the surviving entries, as transcribed up to and including the year 1900 for each of the three parishes. Collectively these provide a wealth of information about local families, and the key events of marriage, baptism and burial that shaped family life in the Laggan Valley through the generations.
Taughboyne was described by Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary Of Ireland of 1837 as ‘a parish, in the barony of Raphoe, county of Donegal, and province of Ulster, 5 miles [west of]Londonderry on the road to Raphoe; containing, with the village and ancient disfranchised borough of St. Johnstown, 6335 inhabitants’. According to the Ordnance Survey it then comprised an area of over 15,000 statute acres, including a large portion of bog but the land was chiefly arable, and of good quality. The living was a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Raphoe, and under the patronage of the Marquess of Abercorn, with the tithes valuing over to £1500. The glebe–house originally built in 1785, at a cost of £1313, was subsequently improved at an expense of £1399 by the then incumbent. The church was erected in 1626, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners having granted £268 for its repair.
Record–keeping in Taughboyne began in 1820 during the incumbency of the Revd Edward Bowen, who was appointed rector in 1819 and continued to serve in that position until his death in 1867. Before ordination, Bowen had qualified as a surgeon, and had the good fortune to set the Marquis of Abercorn’s leg following a carriage accident. The Marquis survived the operation, and when Bowen decided to take up holy orders was presented by his patron to the parish.
The contents of the parish registers from 1820 to 1900 (which also cover all early events for the chapel of ease at Craigadooish) are now available online as transcripts, while further entries up to 2013 are available in hardcopy at the RCB Library. To view these registers, please click here and download the relevant PDF file.
Given the extensive size of the mother parish, two of chapels of ease were created to service parishioners in outlying areas remote from the parish church. In the northern area, Newtowncunningham had served as chapel of ease from the early 18th century, and a church was dedicated to All Saints in 1722. Although it did not become a modern parish in its own right until 1871, coinciding with Bowen’s incumbency back in the early 19th century, he ensured that separate registers of baptisms, marriages and burials were opened and kept from this time.
Tragically the early part of this collection was lodged for safe– keeping in the Public Records Office of Ireland and destroyed in 1922, with the result that marriages up to 1844 and baptisms up to 1877 have been lost. Fortunately, the burial register does survive from 1820 onwards, together with later baptisms and marriages. The online transcripts are available here. All further entries from 1901 up to 2013 are also available in hardcopy at the RCB Library, while the original registers remain in local custody.
The second chapel of ease for Taughboyne was created for the southern end of the parish in the direction of Raphoe at Craigadooish. Again Revd Bowen was instrumental in this development by securing funding from the Board of First Fruits and a grant of land from the Marquis of Abercorn. However, originally the building was used as a schoolhouse, and only from 1869 (around the time of disestablishment) was it properly fitted out for use as a place of worship, with a separate baptismal register being maintained from 1871. All entries recorded and transcribed and reproduced by Canon Crooks between 1871 and 1907 are available at this link.
Finally, Killea was originally an outlying chapel of ease for the large parish of Templemore (centred on Derry cathedral) but which bounded Taughboyne to the east. Separate registers for Killea (centred on the village of Carrigans) were created and kept from 1817 onwards. Following various re–drawings of parish boundaries and amalgamations, Killea first became a parish in its own right at disestablishment, but was finally joined to Taughbouyne and All Saints Newtowncunningham in 1969, a connection that has remained ever since – explaining why its surviving registers are kept safe by the rector of Taughboyne. Again, tragically the early part of this collection had been lodged in the Public Records Office in 1922, and was lost, explaining again why the surviving collection is quite recent – comprising baptisms from 1877; marriages from 1845 and burials from 1880. The online transcripts of baptisms to 1900 are available here. Marriages from 1845 to 1900 are available here. Finally the burials for the twenty–year period between 1880 and 1900 are available here. All further entries from 1901 up to 2013 are also available in hardcopy at the RCB Library, while the original registers remain in local custody.
For further information please contact:
Dr Susan Hood