Methodist Records

Despite the hostility of many of the clergy of the Church of Ireland, the Methodist movement remained unequivocally a part of the Established Church from the date of its beginnings in 1747, when John Wesley first came to Ireland, until 1816, when the movement split. Between 1747 and 1816, therefore, records of Methodist baptisms, marriages and burials will be found in the registers of the Church of Ireland.


The split in 1816 took place over the question of the authority of Methodist ministers to administer sacraments, and resulted in the Primitive Methodists remaining within the Church of Ireland, and the Wesleyan Methodists authorising their ministers to perform baptisms and communions. (In theory at least, up to 1844 only marriages carried out by a minister of the Church of Ireland were legally valid). The split continued until 1878, when the Primitive Methodists united with the Wesleyan Methodists, outside the Church of Ireland. What this means is that the earliest surviving registers which are specifically Methodist date from 1815-16, and relate only to the Wesleyan Methodists. The information recorded in these is identical to that given in the Church of Ireland registers.

There are a number of problems in locating Methodist records which are specific to that Church. First, the origins of Methodism, as a movement rather than a Church, gave its members a great deal of latitude in their attitude to Church membership, so that records of the baptisms, marriages and burials of Methodists may also be found in Quaker and Presbyterian registers, as well as the registers of the Church of Ireland. In addition, the ministers of the church were preachers on a circuit, rather than administrators of a particular area, and were moved frequently from one circuit to another. Quite often, the records moved with them. For the nine historic counties of Ulster, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland have produced a county by county listing of the surviving registers, their dates and locations, appended to their Parish Register Index.

No such listing exists for the rest of the country. Again, Pettigrew and Oulton's Dublin Almanac and General Register of Ireland of 1835 and subsequent years, provides a list of Methodist preachers and their stations, which will give an indication of the relevant localities. The next step is to identify the closest surviving Methodist centre, and enquire about surviving records. Many of the local county heritage centres also hold indexed copies of surviving Methodist records.

Fully comprehensive listings of the dates and locations of all known copies of Church records, cross-linked to the areas they cover, can be found through the Ancestor Search or the Subscription section.