Putting order on your files.

An essential feature of genealogy is putting order on our findings. The after Christmas lull has always been a great time to put order on our ’stuff’ be it photos ( in a pre-digital age!) or  assembling and archiving the documents found on our family in the year gone out.

The simple act of such organising can lead us to assess and reassess new  information in  the course of a recent organisation, I solved a puzzle as to how the nineteen people sharing my family’s surname, in the same village, enumerated on the 1901 Census, related to my own, direct ancestor.  In turn this has pointed the way to the next searches.

By 1901, my grandfather, Christopher, was enumerated with his siblings and widowed mother, Bridget in our village.  Due to the early death of Christopher’s father, John, information on their wider family was lost.  Oral history, supported by some documentation indicated that four brothers had settled in this village in the 17th century, but as is often the way, we were short on specifics.

Who then were the William and Thomas, with the same surname, living in our village in 1901? Both William and Thomas had children with almost exactly the same names as John had given his children.   Thomas was buried adjacent to our family plot and had   acted as witness to my great grandfather’s marriage.  I had assumed they were cousins of my great grandfather, John.  I was wrong.

Although civil marriage certificates for Thomas and William had been obtained, showing they were both the sons of John, I still thought the relationship was in an earlier generation.   At year’s end, while filing said certificates, I took the time to view the corresponding church record. Thanks to the good record keeping of the priest led me to discover that   Thomas and William were in fact the sons of the same set of parents as John. As is common in Dublin parishes, the priest recorded both the mother and father’s name of the bride and the groom.

Courtesy of the parish records now online at NLI I could quickly verify that William and Thomas were in fact the younger brothers of my great grandfather.   Heretofore, searching parish records was a matter of hours spent with the microfilm in the National Library.  Now with catholic parish records online, a much wider and extensive search could be conducted.  My earlier trawl through the National Library had shown some siblings in the decade searched (1840).   Had I extended my search of the parish records, I would have learnt that John’s parents –  also John – and Catherine had two more sons in the 1850s, Thomas and William.

Further careful study of the marriage records for all the known brothers here, including William and Thomas, provided me with book end years for the search of death of their father, a stonemason. When the oldest brother married in 1872, very helpfully, it was recorded that his father, John, was deceased.

Although some civil records are now online, the death I sought, prior to 1872 is not yet imaged.  A visit to the GRO is eagerly awaited.  If John died between 1864 and 1872, then I should expect to find the registration of his death in civil indexes for John, supplying me with a year of death.   One has been noted and a visit to the GRO is now eagerly awaited.  This has given me the springboard  to continue on to the next searches in the  task to document the oral history back to earlier generations.


By Expert Researcher,

Carmel Gilbride

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