Hugh Ward: Family Trees

Wednesday 14th March; Hugh Ward: Family Trees

Hugh Ward
Club Member, Hugh Ward [left] with Probus Vice-President, Oliver Loughran

Club member, Hugh Ward, stated that his purpose was to encourage those who had aspirations to fill in a family tree not to be deterred because there was plenty of help and practical advice.   Various pro formas were available on-line including one published recently by the Belfast Telegraph.  He distributed a simplified construct with spaces for three generations that would likely cover the first 100 years of family history.  But where to start?  He recommended talking to the oldest members of the family and using photograph albums to write down as many names as living memory provides.    Church and parish records in many places go back to 1864 providing records of births, deaths, and marriages.  The Griffith Evaluation, commissioned in the 19th century for purposes of rural taxation, today shows who owned or rented every field and farm in the country.  It is available on-line.   The first census in Ireland was conducted in 1821 and every 10 years thereafter except the record is not complete due in part to the burning of the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922.  Old school roll books, many now housed in the Northern Ireland Public Record Office are worth examining as are back copies of local papers, now available in microfilm in local  libraries.  Tombstones in graveyards can also be revealing as can local histories.  The most recent aid to researching family trees is DNA testing which reveals not just your genetic composition [e.g 4 parts Irish, 1 part Norse] but also how many members of your extended family are already on the DNA database.  Hugh’s talk was very well received and gave rise to much discussion.