Archive of the Month
Re–release of online list updated to account for original registers in PRONI, on Wednesday 1st July 2015
Archive of the Month – July 2015
Re–released on Wednesday 1st July 2015 here
As promised a year ago – in July 2014 when the RCB Library in Dublin presented a gift to the genealogical community via this medium – in the form of an updated list of original parish registers (baptisms, marriages and burials) together with surviving copies of same in Church of Ireland parishes, the list has now been updated and amended to account for original registers in PRONI (the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, in Belfast). This is in addition to those originals and copies that are accounted for in the RCB Library, Dublin and the National Archives of Ireland – which are the other repositories that hold Church of Ireland registers, in addition to those that continue to be held in local custody. Completion of the project represents a further positive collaboration between the Library and the national repository for archives in Northern Ireland.
A master list of registers was originally compiled in–house for the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) – now NAI – by Miss Margaret Griffith (1911–2001) (subsequently Deputy Keeper of the PROI) during the 1950s. She based her list on inventories returned by the parochial officers about the year 1875/6, which were later corrected in the light of subsequent events and information, most especially the tragic destruction of the PROI during the Civil War in 1922 which resulted in the loss of over 500 collections.
The list was amended and updated several times within NAI, especially since the National Archives Act of 1986 stipulated that the RCB Library (the main repository for the Church’s written heritage) could be the place of deposit for Church of Ireland parish registers which came under the control of the National Archives. This master list has been in use in hardcopy format by archivists and researchers alike on a daily basis in the National Archives, the RCB Library and other national record repositories such as PRONI. However, it has become unwieldy in recent years with so many amendments having been made to it – particularly in the light of the extensive transfer of many parish record collections to the RCB Library.
Additionally, it was proving to be confusing for researchers because rather than use parish names, many inner–city churches in Dublin and the other major cities were grouped together under the name of the saint to whom they were dedicated (e.g. St Anne; St George, St Peter etc.). In an extensive project all of the data in the original list has now been reviewed by Dr Susan Hood of the RCB Library who has overseen its evolution as a digital record, and one that is purely alphabetical arranged by parish name (with additionally parishes within the main cities alphabetically listed under the name of each city).
Furthermore, the list has been colour–coded (see sample page featuring parishes in Belfast below). The new colour–code for originals in PRONI is a light purple, making it possible for researchers to see at a glance what collections are available in this format at the principal repository for Church of Ireland records in Northern Ireland. The colour–coding further explains what has been transferred to the RCB Library (currently accounting for 1101 collections); the small number of additional collections available in NAI (just nine); as well as what materials were destroyed; and finally what collections continue to be held in local custody.
It may come as some surprise to learn that only 74 original collections of registers are held in PRONI. The remaining parish register collections for Northern Ireland parishes are either in the RCB Library as the list further reveals, whilst many more remain in the custody of the parishes where they were created. Additionally, microfilm copies of many collections of parish registers throughout the nine counties comprising Ulster are also available in PRONI, and for a comprehensive list, potential readers should consult the PRONI website at this link www.proni.gov.uk. For parishes where registers remain in local custody, useful contact information is available through the Church of Ireland website diocesan pages, on this link: www.ireland.anglican.org/find–a–church
The online updated list (live from Wednesday 1 July 2015) may now be considered to be definitive as far as all original collections are concerned. The electronic list will continue to be maintained, amended and updated on a regular basis by the RCB Library and permanently available here, where it is expected to be extensively consulted by those pursuing ancestral research.
This list is permanently accessible via /about/library/online–parish–records
For further information please contact:
Dr Susan Hood