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New Free Records Available on PRONI Website!

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has recently added a number of free resources to its website.

These are tithe applotment books, 1823–37; school grant-aid application forms, 1832–89; Hansard Official Reports of the Northern Ireland Assembly, 1998–2016 and photographs by A.R. Hogg for Belfast Corporation, 1912–15. Due to the lack of nineteenth century census returns in Ireland, land and valuation records have become hugely important in family history research. Griffith’s Valuation is the most well-known dating from the late 1840s to the mid 1860s – this is available online on askaboutireland.ie.

The tithe applotment books date from an earlier period (1823–37) so are useful for those whose ancestors emigrated during the Great Famine or before the time of Griffith’s Valuation or for those wishing to push their research back to the early 1800s. They predominantly record those renting land so generally do not cover urban areas, or those in the countryside renting only a house and no land. They list landholders by townland and parish and will also list the size of the portion of land rented and amount of tithe to be paid; some books may contain some additional information such as descriptions of the quality of land.

The National Archives of Ireland has the tithe records for the Republic of Ireland available online and now PRONI has made available those for Northern Ireland through their electronic catalogue. Using their eCatalogue one can search using the townland or parish or browse using the reference FIN/5/A and view full scans of the records online.

For those who do not yet know where their ancestors lived at this time, the index to tithe records can be searched on RootsIreland as well as on Ancestry.

The school grant-aid application forms date from the beginning of the national education system in Ireland in the 1830s and in many instances survive from a much earlier period than school pupil registers. These were applications made to the Commissioners for National Education, most commonly for the salary of an assistant teacher or for the repair or building of the school. They also can contain inspectors’ reports as well as the applications and are particularly useful for those who had ancestors who were teachers. They are also helpful in building up a picture of life in the past as they describe the school, the number of pupils, the state of the school building and the names of teachers, pupil monitors, trustees and sometimes lists of local inhabitants who supported the application.

These are also available now through PRONI’s electronic catalogue. Using their eCatalogue one can search using the townland or parish or browse using the reference ED/1 and view full scans of the records online.

Finally, the Hogg Photographic Collection contains images of buildings and streets in Belfast (some named) in the 1910s. Some of the photographs include inhabitants standing outside houses although these individuals are not named. This is a fascinating collection for those who had ancestors living in Belfast at that time as it shows what the streets and buildings looked like. The images focused on those areas in Belfast which were to be affected by various improvement schemes such as road-widening and house demolishment.

These can be downloaded from PRONI’s eCatalogue under references: LA/7/8/HF/3 and LA/7/8/HF/4.

Upcoming Event

10 January, 2020 - Using American Records to Tear Down Irish Brickwalls by Kevin Cassidy

PRONI and the Ulster Historical Foundation invite you to this joint event about using American records to uncover Irish ancestors. This talk will also be live-streamed by PRONI and will be made available on their Facebook page.

  • Location: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ
  • Time: 13:00-14:00
  • Click here to register
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Registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC100280