November 4

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Church congregational records

By Cathie

November 4, 2019


I have spent the last few days researching in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This is a small archive but is one of the best that I have visited over many, many years of family history research – staff are always helpful, the building is well designed with the collection area a short walk from the main research area. Each time I visit PRONI, I find that new records have been digitised and while they may not yet be online, the collections can be accessed in the research room. Over the course of 2019, a number of parishes – Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Ireland – have had their congregational records digitised.  You can access the births/baptisms and marriages for these churches with some burial records from early in the 20th century.

While I found some entries of interest in the baptisms and marriages, it was the communicant lists which provided the most information. Communicant Rolls are similar to the congregational census, but they only list the names of communicant members of a particular congregation. Sometimes there may be a separate list of the names of new communicants. Occasionally, lists of communicants are annotated with additional information, such as when a communicant married, emigrated or died. 

These records, while digital, cannot be saved to a USB memory stick nor can they be printed out.  To retrieve images, you simply fill out a form which requires the record reference, page number, congregation and year.  Each image cost 30p – about $0.60 (AUD).  This form is submitted in person at PRONI and you can have the images provided on a USB (an extra cost), emailed or posted to you.  I nominated email and was told that it may take a day or two especially as my last order was submitted on Friday afternoon.  However, only a couple of hours later my 19 images arrived by email – terrific service!

 

An extract from the Dundonald Communicants Roll Book (Presbyterian) – better than a census (well almost)!

If you have Scots-Irish ancestors, then PRONI in Belfast is the place to visit.  More and more of their records are being digitised so access will become much easier.

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