Irish Roots

December 7th, 2009

John Grenham


A few weeks ago, I mentioned some of the records now in the UK that are relevant for Irish research. The connection works both ways.

One example: as anyone who has read the Nighttown episode of Joyce’s Ulysses knows, there were large numbers of British soldiers stationed in Victorian and Edwardian Dublin – they were the main clients of the city’s huge red light district.

A more licit record of young men’s sexuality appears in the extraordinary number of soldiers’ marriages recorded in Dublin Church of Ireland records. The non-Catholic marriage records from 1845 are especially informative, giving the names of the fathers of bride and groom as well as their occupations. Since a large majority of these soldiers were from England, Scotland or Wales, it is very likely that many of the dead ends that present-day researchers in the UK encounter in their family research might be resolved by looking at these Irish records.

I have a personal reason for going on about this. For the last few weeks I’ve been spending long, long lengths of time combing the post-1845 marriage records church by church. The sheer variety of surnames is continually astonishing - Calisendorf , D'Cloett, Flouterlin, Gammaly, Minchinfort - and so is the variety of spelling versions: Campell, Cambel, Camphil, Canpell, Cambhill …. For English soldiers, the main requirements for a posting to Dublin seem to have been a strong libido and the possession of an odd surname. For 19th century Dublin C. of I. clergymen, on the other hand, dyslexia seems to have been epidemic

One final point about the overlap between Ireland and Britain: James Joyce, whom we now presume as completely one of our own, was born a United Kingdom citizen and held a United Kingdom passport all his life.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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