Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tracing Elusive Pre-1855 Scottish Ancestry

Did you know that hardly 50 percent of Scotland's pre-1855 population appear in's "Church Registers" database? Or, Did you know that by the year 1851, about 60 percent of our Scots ancestors were non-subscribing or dissenting church-goers outside of the Church of Scotland--the government-sponsored or established church?  That's something we are not told when searching the "one-stop-shop" website that is! 

So what happened to the 'other half' of Scotland's population! 

Let's say your ancestor[s] name[s] rarely--if ever--appear in Church of Scotland parish registers. Or ask:  What if they aligned themselves with a dissenting (or Nonconformist) congregation, or were non-Church of Scotland people who belonged to a non-subscribing Presbyterian faith?So naturally next you ask:  How do I trace such Scottish ancestry in pre-1855? 

Seven-Steps to Finding Elusive Pre-1855 Scottish Ancestry

Here are the very next-steps you must take to find further ancestral info when a name does not appear in Church Registers (pre-1855).  These next steps are—
1)     Search's Family History Library's Scottish Church Records Database Scotland Church Database index (located at FamilySearch Centers in North America, Australia/NewZealand and in the some other FSC worldwide; find at "Get Help" and Local on the F.S. website). Their old DOS-based database index contains some names from both non-parochial and non-seceder (Presbyterian-based) church registers
2)     Then check the FHL online Catalog under the parish name to see what nonconformist/non-subscribing Presbyterian church registers the FHL holds; then register with FamilySearch (it's free) to search these microfilm scans which can be done mostly at home. Note:  FHL hold only between 5-10%.
3)     Scotland’s Peoples’ New Register House in Edinburgh (Princes Street) holds many (but not all dissenting and non-subscribing Presbyterian church registers)
4)     Search the Kirk Session (church court) records at selected regional archives.
5)     Local/Regional archives, such as Dundee City Archives or Strathclyde Regional Archives, etc., online catalog[s] to see what holdings they possess in the way of all nonconformist and non-subscribing Presbyterian church registers in their respective holdings. [Hint:  can Google! to find a list of all Scottish Regional or local archives with links to addresses, online catalogs and email addresses.]
6)     Google! To find online transcriptions of some church registers, i.e. Scottish Episcopal registers or Reformed Presbyterian registers, etc.
7)     Google! To find the target chapel/church’s website/page. Then email to inquire of registers’ location; then ask if you can make a donation to request a lookup (one upfront, then a follow-up donation after the search has been completed—otherwise you may lose your upfront donated monies); the other alternative is to then hire a professional genealogist to go visit the church to the search registers. The funnest way is to fly there, and go visit and search the church and its registers in person!

Happy Hunting!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Compelling Reasons Why Our Irish Ancestors Left The Emerald Isle

The following article was originally written for (see Ireland, "Emigration & Immigration")

Reasons Irish Emigrated

Emigrants leave Ireland.jpg
The Irish throughout history had many reasons for leaving Ireland. As well many among those remaining in Ireland would have emigrated but were unable to, due to poverty or impoverishment. Many Irishmen during the Great Famine years who did embark were in such sickened and critically weakened condition that death followed many while traversing the high seas to their new world home.
Generally, the Irishman's reasons for emigrating--if not compelled to do so, to countries abroad were due to an intolerable convergence of circumstances including, but not limited to:

  • dire economic conditions that destituted families
  • austere political policies such as the Crown's Penal laws (from 1695-1829)
  • a series of circumstances surrounding devastating crop failures especially in the mid-19th Century.
  • social and religious persecution against most nonconformists and Catholics (the dominant segment of Irish society)
Here's a little closer look at the devastating effects of the Penal Laws and other reasons for emigrating.

Dunseverick Harbour - - 24159.jpg
     A look at Dunseverick Harbour

Many local people began their long emigration trail during the 1800s, being rowed out to catch a passing schooner bound for Glasgow or Londonderry (see above view) where they would embark on one of the many emigrant ships to Australia, New Zealand or the Americas.

If the 17th and 18th century Penal laws of the Royal Crown leveled at many Nonconformist societies, and in Ireland--especially Catholic society and later, i.e. the Highland Clearances in Scotland--could mostly be summed up in one word:  "brutalisation" seems to fit the bill for those times. For example, from at least as early as the year 1603, imagine a family homestead which prior to this time was once held by the family for several centuries, but was suddenly ripped from beneath their feet and which forced many onto the 'street' in abject poverty practically overnight.
These and other intolerable conditions in Ireland forced Irish (especially Catholic) emigrants to leave the country.
There were four central motivating factors which caused so many Irishmen to turn their backs on their homeland, in order to escape and thrive in a new existence abroad:

Political Culture of Persecution 

  • Austere taxation and tithes policies
  • Continual doctrine of ‘Conquer and divide’ policies enacted over centuries seized and evicted lands from native Irish Catholics
  • Could not hold public office  
  • Could not practice law
  • Cruel landlords (not all--as there were compassionate ones among the many)
  • Sponsorship of land price increases ('rent-racking')--allowed to unbearable rate levels--tossed hoards of already poor families, ‘out onto the street’
  • Could not build a (i.e. Catholic) chapel/parish or live within 5 miles of the civil parish church
  • Disallowance of land ownership for all Catholics


  • British government backed England’s grain exportations—but not Ireland’s; farmers emigrated
  • New farming techniques increased output, decreasing the need for agricultural laborers
  • Manufacturing industries sprang up, causing less emphasis in farming
  • Irish poor-law provided means by which vast numbers were granted mostly free passage to countries abroad

Social and Religious

Ireland Church Tower.jpg

A culture of social and religious persecution by the local Protestant-led and British Crown government was manifest in utter disregard and total distrust of Catholics’ loyalty to the Crown, and escalated to harsher laws enacted, such as the 1695 Penal laws passed by the Crown government, which stripped many Nonconformists and of course Catholics in Ireland of their civil rights to—
  • choose between attendance in a Catholic, or a Protestant place of worship
  • vote
  • enter a profession
  • receive an education
  • serve as officers in British armed forces
  • teach in, or enroll in colleges
  • defend themselves with weapons
  • be employed or an employer in a trade or in commerce
  • own a horse of greater value than five pounds
  • purchase nor lease land
  • inherit land or moveables from a Protestant
  • buy or receive a gift of land from a Protestant
  • rent any land that was worth more than thirty shillings a year
  • reap from his land any profit exceeding a third of the rent
  • be a guardian to a child
  • hold a life annuity 
  • leave infant children under Catholic guardianship
  • accept a mortgage on land in security for a loan
  • attend Catholic worship
  • educate his child
  • be instructed by a local Catholic teacher nor be educated abroad
  • practice their own religion outside of the Protestant faith

Crop Failures 

  • Devastating crop failures—especially The Great Famine from 1846 to 1851 decimated or starved to death, nearly a million people
  • British government’s lack of food aid to Ireland during The Great Famine coerced nearly half the surviving population to leave Ireland
  • Famine brought abject poverty, severe malnutrition inducing poor health, and adversely affected (to some--even death) 3-4 million Irish
  • During the Great Famine years: Grains out of Ireland, were exported to England, while Irish were dying from the famine or causes due to it
Overall, some of the great positives borne out of these waves of Irish emigrants was the fact that millions the world over, have benefited from their rich Irish heritage.  On the backs of their respective Irish ancestors, each descendant (or not) has reaped the benefits of solid industrial and manufacturing infra-structures in their current societies such as in the Americas--the building of the extensive railroad, canals, steel and iron foundries, highways and remote byway systems, and often strong political leadership roles played in the evolvement and development of each nation's local and national governments.

Further Reading

1. O hEithir, Breandan, A Pocket History of Ireland, The O'Brien Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1989
2. MacManus, Seamus, The Story of the Irish Race, The New York Irish Publishing Co., 1921

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Probate (i.e. wills) researching in England heretofore has been a fairly complex research process. For drawing accurate conclusions and connections to prior generations in especially the pre-1858 and/or pre-civil registration (pre-1837) era, few records do so any better than wills. Where extant, they often play a major role in genealogical provenance.

Recently, however, the 'difficulty' level has just been majorly adjusted and turned down a couple of notches! Why?
Did you know that just about all of England's counties now have indexes--most of them quite significant--available online?

Those who use and research in England's probate records--including wills, administrations/admons, inventories, codicils and etc., may also be very pleased to learn that (click "England", then click the county of interest, then "Probate") gives quick step-by-steps for researching in and pointing you to each rich online county resources to these records.

The key to using probate records is knowing in and by which probate court jurisdiction your ancestor's parish of residence at death--was covered. And the Wiki provides you not only with one but several (ranked) possible probate court jurisdictions in which the target parish comes under--critical information for deciding which court[s] to search. For example: The F.S. Wiki points you to David Wright's all-London Wills Index ~1750 to 1858 (now at FindMyPast).
The Wiki is updated with similar information on all new critical online resources researchers need to more quickly locate wills, by displaying and sharing links to these online indexes to wills (and other records). And the best part? Most of them are free or at low cost to you.

Thanks to the Wiki, you can easily determine that most England counties now have online indexes to wills, admons and other probate records. Amazingly, only a few counties do not offer much online, but which is constantly changing. 

Current online Internet offerings, would you believe, renders finding probate records in England significantly easier, thus making research in original probate records themselves, a lot more fun!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

London Huguenot Record Treasures at FamilySearch

England and the especially the greater London region by 1686 became a vast refuge for many French Huguenots. France's King placed a virtual death warrant on all Huguenots, declaring each person in a sense, as 'enemies of the state', and which flushed numerous among their flocks, out into the world, including North America, South Africa, West Indies, Scandinavia, Russia and other places.

Records of the French Huguenot chapels in the Greater London region are quite extensive. Over a century, these registers have been published by the Huguenot Society of Great Britain (London). They have also been microfilmed formerly by the Genealogical Society of Utah (now In particular, the christenings now, like never before, have been mostly indexed and transcribed and made available online at

The following is a list of those French Huguenot chapels of Greater London and the ranges of years, for which christenings are now available to be searched--at Note that most marriages after 1754 were required by the law to have been performed in Anglican or that is--Church of England parishes; as well, burials of Huguenots also often occurred in the local parish churchyard; or in (Greater) London Nonconformist burial grounds such as Spa-Fields, Bunhill Fields cemeteries:

1. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (La Patents French Huguenot), christenings, 1689-1785
2. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (Wheeler Street French Huguenot), christenings, 1703-1742
3. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (Saint Jean French Huguenot), christenings, 1687-1823
4. Chapel register  of Spitalfields, London, England, (The Artillery, French Huguenot), christenings, 1691-1786
5. Chapel register  of Stepney, London, England, (Crispin Street French Huguenot), christenings, 1694-1716
6. Chapel register  of Stepney, London, England, (Swanfields, French Huguenot), christenings, 1721-1735
7. Chapel register  of Stepney, London, England, (Bell Lane and Browns Lane and Marche Church, French Huguenot), christenings, 1709-1740
8. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (West Street, French Huguenot), christenings, 1706-1743
9. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Hungerford Market or Castle Street, French Huguenot), christenings, 1688-1756
10. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Patente Soho or Le Temple, French Huguenot), christenings, 1689-1782
11. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Petit Charenton, French Huguenot), christenings, 1701-1705
12. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Rider Court, French Huguenot), christenings, 1700-1738
13. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Carre Street and Berwick Street, French Huguenot), christenings, 1690-1788
14. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Tabernacle Milck Alley, French Huguenot), christenings, 1696-1719
15. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Glasshouse Street and Leicester Fields, French Huguenot), christenings, 1688-1783
16. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Chapelle Royale de Saint James, French Huguenot), christenings, 1738-1756
17. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Pearl Street Chapel, French Huguenot), christenings, 1698-1701
18. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Swallow Street Chapel, French Huguenot), christenings, 1689-1708
19. Chapel register  of Westminster, London, England, (Savoye De Spring Gardens and Des Grecs, French Huguenot), christenings, 1680-1871
20. Chapel register  of London, London, England, (Threadneedle Street, French Huguenot Church), christenings, 1600-1840
21. Chapel register  of Hoxton, London, England, (French Huguenot), christenings, 1751-1783

To obtain further information about your Huguenot ancestry and to access numerous additional records which provide important perspectives and clues about them, be certain to contact the Huguenot Society of Great Britain. They hold online treasures as well for ancestry among this very fascinatingly conscientious and passionate group of Christian followers--including the Quarto Books (now online) and more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Both Irelands blow the ceiling off of BMD prices!!

Both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have very recently exploited expanded their pricing for copies of births, marriages and death certificates--from 8 to 20 per certificate, or from about $13.50 to $25 U.S.! Unofficial copies of certificate prices have not thus far been addressed thus far.

Formerly, prices were  8 for certificates and 2 for searches! In mean, after all is said and done, paper itself is valued only so much. So just why the draconian price-increase can only be construed as price-gouging.

On a positive note, Irish researchers will be thrilled to learn that is starting a new webpage for Ireland, with free searches in their 21million name database, which is drawn from not only births, marriages and deaths (up to 1921 for Northern Ireland counties), but from newspaper notices, wills, and other record sources. Free searches commence on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

London east's synagogues - a List

For Jews in England, Greater London by far was the favored place of settlement and residence of choice. Out of this region's numerous townships and cities (there were at least 30 Greater London township boroughs by the year 1870), and London's east-end held well over 50 Jewish synagogues. The United Synagogue held heirarchical jurisdiction over these congregations.

Here is a list of Greater London's East-end synagogues as of the latter part of the 19th century, taken from, a Guide to Ancestral Research in London; some provide the year of commencement, as noted.

The list of synagogues prior to 1900, includes--

  • Adler Street Synagogue
  • Alie Street Synagogue – Aldgate St - 18?
  • Agudath Achim Synagog. – Aldgate Old Castle St 1880’s
  • Austrian (Dzikower) Synagogue London E.1
  • Beth Hamedrash Maharish Synagogue
  • Bikkur Cholim Sons of Lodz Chevra Newcastle St. London E1 - 1887
  • Cannon Street Road Synagogue London E.1
  • Tchechenover (Chechanover) Synagogue) London E.5 & E.1 - 1896
  • Old Montague Street Synagogue Chevrah Shass, London E.1 - by 1896
  • Chevrah Torah Synagogue Princelet St, Lon. E.1 - 1890's
  • Commercial Road Talmud Torah Synagogue Christian Street, London E.1. & Stamford Hill, London N.16 - by 1898
  • Crawcour Synagogue London E.1 - 1887
  • East London Synagog. Stepney Green, London E.1 - 1877
  • Fashion Street Synagogue London E.1 – 1858
  • Flasch's Synagogue London E.1 - prior to 1870
  • Fournier Street Synagogue London E.1 – 1896
  • Goulston Street Synagogue London E.1 - prior to 1870
  • Great Garden St. Synagog. (Greatorex St, Lon. E.1 – 1894
  • Greenfield Rd Syn. Commercial Rd, London E.1 - by 1896
  • The Hambro' Synagogue City of London, EC3 & Commercial Rd, London E1 – 1707
  • Hope Street Synagogue ("Sons of Covenant" Friendly Society) London E.1 – 1880
  • "House of David United Brethren" Chevra London E.1 - by 1887
  • "Jerusalem" Chevra London E.1 - by 1887
  • United Kalischer Synagogue London E.1 - by 1887
  • Kehol Chesidim Synagog.Whitechapel, Lon. E.1 – by 1896
  • Konin Synagogue Hanbury Street, London E.1 - 1882
  • Machzike Shomrei Shabbat Synagogue - prior to 1893
  • Peace & Tranquillity (Buckle Street formerly Mansell St) Synagogue London E.1 - by 1887
  • Mansell Street (or Zussman's) Synagogue) London E.1 – prior 1870
  • Mikra Chevrah Synagogue (or, Plotzker, Fashion Crt Chevra) Lon. E.1 – 1858
  • Mile End New Town Synagogue London E.1 – 1880
  • Moses Moore's Synagogue, London E.1 - abt 1840
  • New Road Synagogue Whitechapel, London E.1 – 1892
  • North Bow & Victoria Prk Synagogue Lond. E.3 – 1894
  • Poplar Associate Synagogue Poplar, London E.14 – 1892
  • Prescot Street Synagogue (formerly Rosemary La. Congregation) London E.1 - 1870's (see also Gun Yard Polish Syn.and Cutler St Polish Syn.)
  • Princelet Street Synagogue Spitalfields, London E.1 - 1862
  • St. Mary Street Synagogue London E.1 - 1896
  • The Sandys Row Synagogue Middlesex Street, London E.1 - 1853
  • Scarborough Street Synagogue (formerly Gun Yard)
  • "Polish" Synagogue; (see also Rosemary La.) City of London, London E.C.3 - 1792
  • Spitalfields Great Synagogue -1898
  • Spital Square (formerly German) Synagogue, New Broad St. or Old Broad St) of Spital Sq., Bishopsgate, London E1 – 1858
  • Vine Court Synagogue Whitechapel, London E.1 – 1896
  • Voice of Jacob Chevra London E.1 - by 1887
  • Warsaw (Gun Str.) Synagogue) Lon. E.1 - by1895
  • Wellington Rd Synagogue & B'Noth Zion Hebrew Classes
  • White's Row Synagogue London E.1 - by 1870
  • Winsor Street Chevra London E.1 - by 1887