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Easter News From The Ulster Historical Foundation

ULSTER AND SCOTLAND: Ulster-Scots Contributions to a shared inheritance.

Hosted by the Foundation on behalf of the Ministerial Advisory Group Ulster-Scots Academy, our Ulster and Scotland Conference was a great success.

Over 150 people attended while the Conference exhibition was full to capacity with 35 exhibitors representing a variety of groups and cultural organisations from across the community including Culturlann McAdam O Fiaich, the Presbyterian Historical Society, Ultach Trust and the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (Northern Ireland Branch). The feedback from the Conference delegates has to date been very positive as the following comment attests:

“I think it helped to clarify that Ulster-Scots is not just linked to the protestant/unionist tradition. It is part of our shared past and must have a place in our shared future”

The Conference proceedings were filmed and recorded by Stone Circle Consulting and we will advise in due course on how the video may be obtained.


We are delighted to announce that Dissenting Voices: Rediscovering the Irish Progressive Presbyterian Tradition by Roger Courtney has now been published. Profiling some 300 Irish Presbyterians from the early seventeenth century to recent times, this significant book sheds light on that important but often overlooked Irish Presbyterian dissenting tradition. The Rev. John Dunlop penned the foreword to Dissenting Voices and there is also a contribution from Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick of Union Theological College.

Extending to more than 400 pages, Dissenting Voices is excellent value at £14.99 (plus postage and packing) and is available from The book will be launched in the Christ Church Library of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution on Wednesday 30th April (6.00 for 6.30pm – 8.00pm). The guest speaker will be the Rev. Bill Shaw of 174 Trust. All are welcome.

Click here to view the invitation to the Dissenting Voices book launch

Many of you have placed pre-publication offers for The Waddells of Ireland. Bringing this title to fruition has taken a little longer than expected but we are confident that the book will appear in May. Thank you for your patience.

Easter Offers

We have recently acquired fresh stock of the ever popular The Book of Ulster Surnames. This accessible and well-researched reference work contains over 500 entries of the most common family names in Ulster. The published price is £12.99 but over the Easter period we have reduced the price to only £5.00 (plus postage and packing).

In addition, anyone purchasing a copy of Dissenting Voices will have the opportunity to buy the lavishly illustrated Presbyterians in Ireland for the bargain price of £5.00 (plus postage and packing)

Plantation: Aspects of seventeenth-century Ulster Society

Following the successful launch in the Cardinal O'Fiaich Library in Armagh in March, you are cordially invited to a lunchtime talk by Dr Brendan Scott, one of the editors and contributors to Plantation: Aspects of seventeenth-century Ulster Society. This event will take place in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland at 1.00pm on Monday 12th May. Admission is free but booking is essential. Please contact PRONI at or by telephone (+44) 02890 534800 to reserve your place.

Activity Holidays

Thank you to all of you who have reserved places in our two activity holidays, Searching for that elusive Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestor (4-10 June) and the Ulster History and Genealogy Autumn School (14-20 September).

Bookings for the former have been particularly encouraging although both of these family history conferences still have places available. Both events are ideally suited to the family historian, regardless of experience, who wishes to learn more about their Ulster ancestry and the dynamic history of this place.

Over 34,000 new baptismal records added to our website!

We are pleased to announce that we have recently added over 34,000 Church of Ireland baptismal records to our online database. These records are from:

Name of Church County Years covered Total entries
Aghaderg CI Down 1814 – 1870 2692
Blaris CI (Lisburn) Antrim & Down 1720 – 1750, 1763 - 1819 11,125
Christchurch CI (Belfast) Antrim 1850 – 1870 15,426
Dromore CI Down 1784 – 1816, 1858 -1871 5473

The register for Aghaderg Church of Ireland includes the first name of the mother of the child and sometimes her maiden name. The father's occupation was recorded between 1839 and 1870. In addition, between the years 1832 and 1838, each child had at least three sponsors!

In 1728 the minister for Blaris Church of Ireland recorded some of the occupations of the fathers whose children were being baptised. We can see therefore that in the town of Lisburn at that time there was a shoemaker, saddler, potter, inn-holder, gardener, chandler, whipmaker, blacksmith, hatter, ‘joyner', and glazier. If the father was a soldier, the name of his Regiment was often recorded in this register, particularly in the 1790s.

The register for Christchurch Church of Ireland in Belfast contains the exact street address of the family, the father's occupation and the mother's full name including her maiden name; much like the information contained on a civil birth record but these registers date from 14 years before the start of civil registration in 1864. The minister from 1855 to 1859 also recorded the Church where the parents were married, a most useful piece of information, particularly if they had married outside of Belfast or even Ireland. Places of marriage detailed in this register include Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Greenock in Scotland; Liverpool, Carlisle, Sefton in Lancashire, Manchester, London and Cornwall in England as well as America and Gibraltar!

The register for Dromore Church of Ireland contained the name of the mother, including her maiden name. The father's occupation was recorded from 1858.

Online Records

If you're researching your Irish ancestors and want to find family who lived before the introduction of birth, marriage and deaths records in Ireland in 1864, your main resources are Church registers.

The Foundation has been busy transcribing these important records for the past 25 years and now has almost all pre-1900 Roman Catholic baptismal and marriage records for Counties Antrim and Down, as well as funeral records where they survive. These records are available on our website The earliest Roman Catholic registers that the Foundation holds date from 1785 and are for Saul and Ballee in County Down.

We also have records from a large number of Church of Ireland (Episcopalian) and Presbyterian Churches in Counties Antrim and Down and we are currently adding more Church of Ireland baptismal records to our collection (see above for information on our latest additions).

The earliest Presbyterian records we have transcribed date from 1720 for Rosemary Street 3rd Presbyterian Church in Belfast and the earliest Church of Ireland records are from 1661 for Blaris Church of Ireland in Lisburn. Even where a civil record of a birth, marriage or death exists after 1864, it is always useful to obtain the information from the equivalent Church record.

Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic baptismal records can contain the names of the sponsors or godparents who are often siblings of the parents and Roman Catholic baptismal records sometimes contain notes detailing the later marriage of the child.

Roman Catholic marriage records can also contain valuable genealogical information which is never recorded on the civil marriage record, such as the names of the mothers of the bride and groom, the addresses of the witnesses and the addresses of the parents of the bride and groom. The address of the parents of the bride and groom in particular can be of huge importance in family history research, especially if the couple had moved to an urban area for work and their place of birth is not yet known.

If you are researching family from other counties in Ireland besides Antrim and Down, has over 20 million birth, marriage and death records (both civil and Church) for almost every County in Ireland. Best of luck with your family history research.

Wishing all our members and friends a very happy Easter.

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