Journal Volume 3 2000

Searching For Your Ancestors (continued/4)

Most of the memorials concern land transactions, although there are some marriage settlements and wills. There is a surnames index, and a land index by county and townland, both in equally large and heavy volumes. Of course these records are only of use when researching a family of some substance. It was a matter of whim whether or not a family registered documents. Some families registered innumerable transactions, others did not bother to do so.

Some of the memorials in the Registry of Deeds are very complicated, and not always easy to decipher, but you never know what enlightening details you may find about your forbears. One search I undertook on a Queen's Co. (Leix) family, showed that there existed disaffection between husband and wife, a problem which was apparently dealt with satisfactorily in the following way:-

During the eighteenth and earlier part of the nineteenth centuries divorce or dissolution of a marriage were beyond the means of most people. Even for Protestants, adultery did not constitute grounds for divorce at that time. When an extra- marital liaison was well enough established to have an air of permanency, the three persons involved - husband, wife and lover - might resort to an ingenious custom, which was used fairly widely in Britain and occasionally in Ireland. The husband sold his wife publicly to the lover, hoping to avoid further legal responsibility for her, or for her children by the second man.

The lover publicly took on the wife, and presumably she was pleased with the new arrangement.

A deed of 1731 which I found in the Registry of Deeds referred to just such an arrangement, and in this case the husband and the lover registered the transaction, hoping thus to give it the semblance of legality. The two parties were named as Anthony Deverell of Derrycloney, Queen's county, farmer, and Thomas Dugdill of Drinagh, Queen's county. The deed refers to differences between Anthony Deverell and his wife Sarah. In resolution of the problem, Thomas Dugdill gave Anthony Deverell five shillings. Anthony gave Thomas, specifically for Sarah's use:

"2 cows with sucking calves; 5 heifers; 1 chest of drawers; 1 feather bed; 1 iron pot; 3 pewter dishes and plates; 3 oak and 3 white chairs; 1 press with other small goods; 1 house, and ½ the cow house with yard. We can only hope that Sarah was happy."

There are many other sources which might yield information - old directories, old newspapers, Journals, letters, family bibles, and thousands of documents in the various repositories - once started there is no end to your search, for you may be sure there is something more to be found.

The National Library in Kildare Street runs a free Family Research Advisory Service where you can consult a genealogist and study CD-ROMS, books and microfiche records. You may find a visit to this service very helpful in planning your search.

To find your ancestors, you need to combine curiosity about people with the attributes of a fine detective. I wish you good hunting!


Back to list of contents   Back to previous page   Move to the next article