What I had to do, to find my family and re-create my 'tree'
The dates and information I needed was hidden because I did not have locations or dates, there were no clues. When I started to find useful records they were on a County boundary and in five different record centres to say nothing of how many parishes were involved. Even though I was thorough there were huge holes in my records and so I went for an Ireland wide screening of records.
The Birth / Baptismal spreadsheets
First the dates were gathered by searching the free sites and the usual big companies paid for subscriptions.
I added other dates and information gleaned from published trees and other researchers when I could rely on it. Pilot study of a couple of hundred birth /baptisms seemed to yield fruit, so I continued.
Further names were gathered according to surname variation as I could not know at this stage what names would be useful or not.
Each name sheet was then sorted by
Mothers First name
Fathers first name*
Parish (sortingby parish last - might show afamily that moved?
Amazingly this hunch paid off massively. It seemed a reliable technique to gather random data into possible families. So I widened the search to the whole of Ireland.
There is no guarantee that there weren’t two sets of parents having kids in the same parish but in my case the numbers I started with were only 1500 for the whole of Ireland (years 1800 to 1880-ish). So, it was rare that I had the problem and all but a handful were resolved one way or another.
A further sort of Baptismal - Birth year within a family group helped too, it would show odd gaps and sometimes large ones too – more of this in Naming Patterns and Problems.
However, it gave a lot of single records too. Many more than I like to remember but more than 50% of the total.
A lot of these records had spelling variations common to names like Connell and Byrne which are many. Once checked and sorted they were mostly found to match a gap in a family group.
There were a lot of mis-names such as Connel and Conner (with their usual variations) some of which were original pen and ink records with no rule book or standardised names and many were the interpretation of the original transcriber.
The internet versions are not much better, this latter fact is presumably due to the pressure and financial stricture of the companies trying to be first to get information to the paying and baying public?. However, I questioned twice the record of Tzngald.and no one was interested at the company about this but searching for Tz as a surname yielded 99 Tzngald and about 30 more beginning with Tz.....maybe in Poland orBorat's homeland but when you know they are Fitzgerald you wonderwho got short changed in the subscriptions. I reckon 10% of my records have had to be corrected in some way. What was annoying was the refusal the first time to do anything about it. The second time I got a response and 48 hours later they had corrected it - but several years after the publishing of these records.
Huge amounts of time had to be given to capital letters like T F K. For instance I could not know if Thynne was a real surname or not or was it Flynn? In print it is easy but in 200 year old script it was wicked hard.
Many records were incomplete due to damage of the page / record book. Many records were badly written with entries written over each other or squashed into spaces and some were beautifully scripted with the art of a craftsman.
Some records were just wrong. Tim in one family had been transcribed as Tom.
I kept the original transcribed name but added the corrected text in fron, made it bold and purple. The purple text shows it is my interpretation and leaves the original intact. This also has the massive benefit of making the searching of several thousand records and sorting them much easier. Likewise with O' and Mac prefixes. Use find and replace to send the prefix of O'Connell to the end of the surname (Connell O' ) so it is in evidence but the spreadsheet can sort more efficiently?
Against these difficulties it was possible to link more than half of the orphans, reliably, into the 'reformulated' families. This was done by checking original transcriptions and images. They also had to fit the 5 point search criteria of names, place and year given above. The upshot of all this was to reduce the single entries massively and perhaps make the family groups about 60% of the total records
Some records were never made, not everyone was a devout Catholic, many had no religion and a significant number were non-Catholic religions - some turned protestant to be able to own land and overcome the apartheid system. We are still a number of years away from getting the protestant records in Ireland.
Some records are just missing and some records started when others hadbeen doing it for twenty years or more.
Last Gasp Attempt at Resolutions
Remaining orphan records (single baptism) entries were checked by searching the spreadsheet County by County for all the Dioscese in each county, sometimes the parish too. Then place by place, each one was searched, looking for all the records and trying to find any similarities and checking any odd or anomolous information, strange names, just anything that would help. This also proved really beneficial and solved a lot of issues but is remembered as mostly just hard graft.
Sometimes, a record or records just seemed to fit, say because of unusual names in an associated Parish but couldn’t fit perfectly, the record was left adjacent to the other(s) as a reminder or for further research.
People mostly stayed put when having children but circumstances change and small movements did occur as a family may be spread over ten to 25 years!
Where there is a case of same name parents but large geographical difference the records are adjacent in the spreadhseet so are readily seen and don't have to be included as one group. Justification for inclusion could be unique names but care is still needed. The converse is true that one family group may be two in the same area, even though population numbers are small. The data is all there to be assessed and verified by the researcher.
So, we are done?
No, despite a lot of completion where I could reliably believe and even prove that this was all worthwhile there were annoying gaps and issues still.
Many of my records had the wife’s surname as Crow and Crowe, though they all had a potentially useful First name.
Many were left as they were, with Mr and Mrs having the same surname, it was still possible to group them as families.
Not many of these records were movable to other families and I was a little surprised and frustrated.
The use of sponsors surnames showed anecdotal links to other families and may be consistent throughout a set of children.
In parallel to all the Crowe names in Ireland I was also researching marriages and I had started to try and build a family tree picture in localities in Tipperary. Horror of horros in genelaogy – other name variations had to be taken seriously. I had turned up Crough as a definite variation between marriage and baptism records, sometimes it looked like two families but the records in one family dovetailed together perfectly with other records. I speculated on others in the associated parishes and before too long, realised I had to tip the whole Crough record sheet in on the Crow / Crowe combinations.The other name variations were less successful but Croagh, when spelt and transcribed correctly, was significant and much later I put the whole of that record into my register too. As before, the numbers of completions to pseudo families and lack of any significant rejections proved beneficial and substantiated itself.
The use of marriage data was useful to check against the 'families' but the number of marriages directly relating to known baptisms was disappointing. This was corroborated by other researchers and published on reliable genealogy sites, who suggest that the number of marriages was less than half of the population of families. I would concur from my data of marriages, adding that it was much less than half. In my own research this is due to the fact there was high maternal deaths and farmers had the wealth and need for a second and then even a third wife; personally, economically and socially. Where direct links were made there was sometimes useful additional information. Caution had to be made as a bride my be married in her home parish, not the one she has children in – probably his parish. Further explanations for the marriage - family mismatch will be found under Naming Patterns and Problems.
To make 3000 plus records clearer when re-visiting the data - some modifications for clarity.
Groups of people in a family, reliably, are coloured blue.
Groups that are possible but if some criteria causes doubt are beige
Single child entries are coloured blue. where they have been checked as far as is possible and no other family association seems possible
Entries with odd names, names with spelling variations or names at odds with other information in the record are in Bold.
Corrected data, checked from the image, is purple bold
Families in pink are personal family lines - the streams of Glenanee.
Text in red, personally significant places.
Baptisms pre-1800 are coloured green
Following the name variation studies I have become more aware of the variation in records amongst even one family and it has coloured the way I now look for records using the four variations given above and the very many other variations or mistakes. I now use Cro* and tick the name variation box too! It can drag out a lot of other names but if you can limit the locality or time span this can cut numbers of results without missing the essential record you are looking for.
One result seems to be that the Crough and Croagh variations are very significant in Tipperary. These variations were not found in other places in any significant numbers if at all.
Also, the name variation appears during the 1800s and disappears at the end. The 'appearance' of the variations may be an aberration due to the lack of records in the early 1800s. The disappearance of the variation in Ireland by the time of the Irish 1901 / 1911 censuses is notable. Standardisation of record data by government for State registration after 1863 and better education are the main reasons. Crough exists as a significant name in the USA censuses of the 1900s and in other ex-English colonies. In the UK the picture is less clear. At some point it would be good to study further my assumption that the Crough / Croagh spelling was adopted by families not wanting a name that is common in England (Crowes of Norfolk) and using the gaelic name for a mountain with similar phonetics did the trick?
Spellings of names can vary, there may be a lot of variation in one family group but they should not be linked to another family group in any way. You need to check manually that everyone is sorted into groups. Very laborious but worthwhile
Seamus Crowe -- website2021