In recent months Find My Past[i] have been releasing a wonderful and vast array of records each Friday under the banner of Findmypast Fridays (the image here is their logo for this promotion). It makes for pretty happy Fridays!
Although I’ve only dabbled slightly in the records I can see they have great potential for family history research and especially for One Place Studies research. Let me give you some examples of what I’ve discovered.
Relevance to Personal Family History
- There is no Martin O’Brien listed on the Griffith’s Valuations 1852 at Ballykelly townland, Parish Kilseily (various spellings), Co Clare. The electoral rolls of 1864 (the earliest available for Broadford polling booth) tell me that Martin resides at Killaderry [O’Brien] townland but has land there and at Ballykelly, with a combined value of £15/5/-.
- My own Michael O’Brien, at Ballykelly, must be on a property worth less than £10 as he is not listed.
- Similarly the Michael O’Brien at Kilseily (Kilsiley) townland is also not listed.
- On some occasions the entries refer to a person by their alias which can also be helpful in differentiating people of the same name.
- The rolls may also offer clues as to when an ancestor died and who took over the property (again of use in comparison to the revision lists).
- They may also offer clues to when emigration took place…always assuming the person is on the rolls in the first place.
Relevance for One Place Studies
I think the real value of these records is shown with One Place Studies. For example I am interested in Broadford (Parish Kilseily) specifically, and East Clare generally.
Over time I can peruse the electoral rolls which are available, year by year, and determine the changes in occupancy and compare them to the Valuation Revisions available on microfilm through LDS Family History Libraries.
I can also:
- track changes in the use of a particular place name or townland and its spelling and perhaps identify locally-used names.
- differentiate between two people with the same name by comparing where they reside and what land is listed for them.
- compare when one land owner’s land values increase over time eg my ancestor’s land at Ballykelly finally enables his son to gain a vote much later on.
Much of this research is time-consuming and tedious, but then research wasn’t meant to be easy all the time (to paraphrase on of Australia’s Prime Ministers, and appropriately, Irish poet and writer, George Bernard Shaw).
By cross-linking the original valuations, the revisions, the electoral rolls, church registers, and other records which come our way, we can slowly come to understand the economic standing of people within the community, differentiate people with the same name, and generally get a clearer picture of the community. I’ve been lucky to be given an “off the back of the truck” source of information from one of my blog readers which I can use in triangulating this information, but even without that bonanza, the Clare Electoral Rolls can perform wonders in clarifying our understanding of communities and our own families.
My guess is that once again those of us with Clare ancestry will be the envy of our genealogical peers!
And if you have Clare ancestry and are yet to discover the Clare County Library’s proliferation of wonderful genealogical resources and indexes (all cross-checked). You can look through their offerings here. While some counties have been curmudgeonly with records, Clare Library has made it so much easier for us to trace our Clare-born ancestors…they really have been trail blazers.
If you don’t have a personal subscription to Find My Past you may wish to keep an eye on their website and Facebook pages as they’ve had some good specials lately. Meanwhile don’t forget your local family history/genealogy society or reference library may well have a subscription you can access. Why not give it a go? I’ve had wonderful success over the years.
[i] I have a world subscription to Find My Past.