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General Register Office Northern Ireland

     Last week I retweeted the information that the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) had put their indexes online.  This week I’ve had a bit of time to look at the process and I thought I’d pass on my thoughts.

   First, before you can search the indexes you need to register and purchase credits.  This is a similar process to the Irish Family History Foundation.  Each credit is worth £.40 (about $.66).  You can purchase a maximum of 200 credits (£80 or $132.73) and the credits are good as long as your account stays active.  Your account will be deemed inactive if you do not use or top up your account for a period of 24 months and you will lose any balance.  You will be notified prior to this happening.  The credits are used to search records and view indexes or images.  They cannot be used to purchase a certificate.

   Using the Internet, you can access:

     Birth Records over 100 years old (before 1914)

     Marriage records over 75  years old (before 1939)

     Death records over 50  years old (before 1964)

If you visit GRONI in Belfast, however, you have access to additional records.  (Good reason to sign up for the Belfast Research Trip <g>).  To read about my experience at GRONI this past October click here.  

   GRONI has provided a good reference document on searching here.   So I began by searching for marriages for “Moag.”  It’s a relatively unsual name so I didn’t get hundreds of hits.   I clicked on "Search for a Marriage Record” typed in “Moag” and 1845 (the family was Protestant so marriages were recorded from 1845).  I assumed it would provide all marriages after 1845, but that was not the case…you need to search by five years.  The great benefit over the FamilySearch site, even for these early records is that it provides surname of the spouse.  So here is the record for John Moag and his spouse Dawson. 

    Now I’m going to look for their children. The birth search, again done in five year increments, begins the year after their marriage, from 1875-1879.  I continued in five year increments until no additional results were found (after 1900).  I found a total of 14 children.  The first 9 were born in Belfast, then the registration moved to Newtownards.  With the large number of children and the change in locality, I checked to see if there was another marriage of a Moag to a Dawson, but found none.   Also, the name John was used three times, which would indicate that the earlier ones likely died.  I’ll go in and check the death records next.   Once you’re logged in there is a Notes area where you can keep information for 72 hours.  I thought I would copy and paste the records into the Notes and then print them, but copy and paste didn’t work.   I ended up grabbing the screens and putting them together in a word processing document.

(Page 1 of children)

   Up to this point I have not used any credits…all of these were free searches.   I have found the marriage and the children of that marriage thanks to having the maiden name of the mother in the record.

   For 1 credit I obtained an enhanced copy of the marriage record.   This provided the bride’s given name, Sarah, that she was a minor (under 21) and that the marriage took place at Rosemary Presbyterian Church.  

For an additional 5 credits, I obtained an image of the registration. 

 So for a total of £2.40 ($3.98).I identified the correct certificate and obtained an image of that certificate.  At the GRO in Dublin, I would have done the index search at FamilySearch, and then ordered a copy of the certificate for €4.00 ($5.49).  I would not have had the maiden name of the wife in order to confirm I had the correct individual, nor would I have been able to do the search for the children. Even if I had  the maiden name of the mother it is not part of the FamilySearch (or GRO Dublin) index.  I’m liking this site!

   Remember, though, it only works for Northern Ireland.  The records that pre-date the split were sent to Belfast so even the old records (as shown above) are available.  If you are searching for ancestors from Down, Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry, Tyrone or Fermanagh, I would use this site.

   Happy Hunting!


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© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2013