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Did Your Irish Spend Time in Great Britain?

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   I hope so!  I’ve always been jealous of those with all their ancestry in England and Scotland (I actually have a line there) for all the wonderful records.  But the fact is, that many Irish spent time in Great Britain, and if your lucky, your ancestors might show up in a census or vital record there.  Up  until the 1840s, many Irish traveled to Britain for seasonal work …the main pull factor being that it was close, and relatively cheap.  Although it was expected that they would return to Ireland, some became permanent residents in England and Scotland.  The routes were fairly well documented…from Ulster to Scotland; from west and central Ireland to Dublin and then on to Liverpool; and from the south or southwest to Wales, London or the southwest coast of England.  For some, it was an intermediate step toward eventual emigration to the US, Canada or Australia.

   Your best chance for finding your ancestors in England is if they traveled as a family.  Unfortunately, just like finding your Michael Daly, a 20 year old single male laborer in the US immigration records, finding your single male or female in England may also be difficult unless you have some bit of extra information about them.  If your ancestor was married when he arrived in the US and you can’t find an Irish marriage, check for a marriage in England or Scotland.  Sometimes marriages took place just before emigration at the port city, which is why you might find a marriage for your ancestor in Cork, even if they didn’t live there.  The same goes for Liverpool.  Here’s a website for Liverpool Roman Catholic marriages.

   Like with all research, sometimes you get lucky.  A search of the 1851 census for Dalys born Mayo, Ireland [location exact] on FindMyPast turned up a number of possibilities.  One, a John Daley, is enumerated in the Chester Prison, with his place of birth marked as “ Claremorris, Mayo, Ireland.”  Since there weren’t all that many Dalys in Claremorris, I’m pretty sure this is one of mine!  FindMyPast has a large collection of Prison Records for both the UK and Ireland, so a quick check showed that John Daley was incarcerated on 29 March 1851 for one week for robbery.  The date of the 1851 census was the night of 30 March 1851.  A week later and I would have missed him!

   Other UK records that might include your ancestor are military records.  Those serving prior to 1922 would have served in the British military and those records would be in UK collections or at The National Archives in Kew.  Also check out the UK newspapers as there are frequently mentions of people in Ireland.  A fire in the store of James Moughty in Westmeath was covered by a half dozen UK newspapers.

   So when FindMyPast comes out with a large collection of new UK records, check them out…you might find your ancestor hiding there.

   Happy Hunting!


Interested in a Genealogy Cruise next February to the Eastern Caribbean? (Great for those of you who want to get out of the cold weather!)  Speakers include Dick Eastman, Gary and Diana Smith and me.  Two free upgrades if you book before August 31st.  

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Classes on Sea Days

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Sightseeing in Ports



© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2017