The Settlement Patterns of Families.

With a great deal (but not all!) civil certificates online, now, at our fingertips we have a wealth of easily accessible records. There is so much we can do with these easily accessed records that it is difficult to know which direction to run in first.

One recurring and thorny issue in Irish genealogy arises from the settlement patterns of families.  Often, two, three or more brothers settle in the one area, each calling their sons after their own father.  We are left with multiple people of the same name in the same parish.  It can be difficult to unravel the skein of family relationships.

We may have found someone in the 1901 Census, let us say Philip, in a townland, but are not sure how they relate to our direct line.  If Philip’s marriage took place after 1882, the start date for imaged marriage certificates, then this can be viewed online.  Yes, parish records have been available for this time, but alas, many priests did not record the name of the fathers of the bride or groom.  Secondly, it can be difficult to know which parish may have been the likely place of origin for the bride.

Philip married in 1884 and his marriage was registered in the neighbouring county as that was his wife’s place of origin.  Philip, we learn, was the son of Hugh.  Hugh had, in fact,  appeared as the rated occupier in this small rural townland in 1847.   So now we can connect the Hugh of 1847 to the Philip of 1901 with the civil record.  Civil records  can act as a vital bridge from one generation to the next and now we can make these connections online.

Of course, these findings  then raises further questions for us as to how Hugh, in Griffiths, relates to our female ancestor of the same surname who originated in this townland.    We may have lost sight of our female ancestor when she took on her husband’s name and settled elsewhere.   But her family remained farming in this area and cousins exist on this maternal line, yet to be discovered!  Building our knowledge of a family line in each townland makes us realize that there are connections in our extended family that have been hidden from us up to now.

By Research Expert,

Carmel Gilbride

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