Irish Roots

February 7th, 2011

John Grenham


Some things are infuriatingly simple. Take the state records of births, deaths and marriages. These began in England and Wales in 1837 and in Ireland in 1864 and access to the records is organised identically in both jurisdictions: simple quarterly indexes give alphabetical lists of individuals and relate them to the relevant volume and page number in the actual registers. To see a full entry from an original register, it is necessary first to identify the relevant entry from the index and then to pay for a copy from the register.

Researching births and deaths with direct access only to the indexes can feel like trying to thread a needle wearing boxing gloves. The marriage indexes are a different matter. With two names, it is possible to cross-reference. Two individuals recorded in the same year, quarter and registration district on the same page in the same volume are almost certainly married to each other Ė early marriage registers contain only two records per page. So if you see someone in the GRO search room in Abbey Street scanning one page of a marriage index with a finger stuck in another part of the volume, thatís whatís happening. And thatís what The Genealogist site (thegenealogist.co.uk) has done for all 100 million marriage index entries for England and Wales up to 2005. A click on any entry lets you see the three other names that the index says appear on the same page in the register.

Irish marriage indexes from 1864 to 1958 are complete online at familysearch.org, but with nothing even remotely like the reverse marriage search. The only way to match two entries remains manual.

The reverse index search is not brain surgery. Itís not even rocket science. Itís just common sense, and itís very frustrating to see it just out of reach.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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