For many years, I have explored the records of the Registry of Deeds in Dublin, a wonderful resource which covers every county in Ireland. One of the major drawbacks is that the Registry is very poorly indexed – just under the townlands mentioned and under the name of one of the first parties (grantors). As I slowly read from page to page in the books of memorials, I was constantly struck by how many marriage details were contained there – and not just in the deeds that were drawn up to record a marriage settlement. Even if the marriages had nothing to do with my own family, they would be most welcome to another researcher, and without an index to all but a few of the vast number of names in the Registry of Deeds, that other researcher might never come across this data. So I resolved to note down the marriages as I read, with the intention of eventually loading them into some sort of database. My researches meanwhile took me in many different directions, and I wondered if the database could be widened, to include some of other collections, – some obvious, like newspaper announcements, and others more obscure, such as the marriages noted in Chancery Bill extracts, family bibles, military records, old age pension claims and many others.
This resource is designed as an index, pointing the researcher towards the actual record. Only the county or country of the bride and groom is shown, although the original record may provide more address details. Where the age of the bride or groom is known, but no other evidence of the date of marriage within that particular record is given, then the bride is assumed to have married at 18 or the groom at 21. Where the bride is known to be unmarried, she is described as “Miss” &, if known to be a widow, as “Mrs”. (Note that sometimes an unmarried woman may have been recorded in a parish register in the 1700s as “Mrs”, reflecting her social status rather than her nuptial condition.) Only marriages within Ireland are shown, except where it is fairly evident that the couple, while marrying abroad, will be spending their married life in Ireland. No marriages from 1864 onwards are shown, as full Civil Registration is available from that date.
The Irish Government and the Irish Family History Foundation (through its website rootsireland.ie) between them are placing any surviving parish registers online, and so these records have not been included. Many couples did travel to marry in England, Wales and Scotland. Irish marriages at Portpatrick are available online and these have been included. The Gretna Green registers are also available online; these have already been indexed, but not well, and many Irish marriages were missed, so I have worked through the original registers again. Couples also travelled to London, Liverpool and so on to marry, and it is hoped to pick up many of these in the future.
More and more newspapers are coming online, providing an excellent resource. The IGRS holds vast newspaper records, and tasters of these have been included, being the work of Father Wallace Clare, Dr Smythe-Wood and Miss Rosemary ffolliott. In addition, Dr Henry Morris carefully annotated many biographical extracts and these have been published in many of our Journals. There is also Henry Farrar’s magnificent index of Irish Marriages, taken from Walker’s Hibernian Magazine 1771-1812. I started off with the portion of marriages already available freely online, but am currently working through the Society’s copy of Farrar’s work. In addition, some years of the magazine are now available online, and so I have been able to compare these against Mr Farrar’s work, noting errors and omissions, and have also been able to add such details as “Mr, Esq, Miss” etc, which Mr Farrar decided to omit. Anthologia Hibernica 1793-1794 is also included in Henry Farrar’s Index, and so I have been able to treat these in a similar fashion, as 18 months of the magazine is available online. In most instances for newspapers, dates given in this index are of publication and not marriage.
Registry of Deeds:
Some of these records will be other than marriage settlements, and so the indication that the marriage took place before a certain date simply means that. The marriage in fact may well have taken place a decade or so earlier. Where several references to the same marriage are included, it is because each record adds a little to the sum of knowledge. One record may note the name of the groom’s father, while another later record may note the bride’s mother. In each case, the reference, including the memorial number, is shown, so that readers can check the full abstract on microfilm at an LDS Library, or apply for a copy memorial from the Registry of Deeds. Fuller descriptions of some of these memorials may well be found on the Registry of Deeds Index Project database
Marriage Licence Bonds:
While most of the originals of these valuable records were destroyed in the Public Record Office fire in 1922, indexes do remain, and many are available online. A number of the smaller collections are included in this index. In addition, some of the diocesan MLB indexes records contain a considerable amount of detail. For instance, in the case of Ossory diocese, addresses are shown, together with parentage and also the religion of the couples, a significant number of whom were Roman Catholic. Ossory Diocese covers most of county Kilkenny and parts of counties Laois, Offaly and Waterford, the bonds were published in the Society’s Journal, Volume 8.
Rosalind McCutcheon January 2013
Last updated 18 December 2014