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Research by Judy Lucey, NEHGS Archivist
Your question to Ask A Genealogist was forwarded to me as my areas of research are Newfoundland and Ireland. The quest for the Irish origins of your Newfoundland ancestors may reside in Newfoundland or in the U.S. if they immigrated here. Your search for their origins resides on this side of the Atlantic, not in Ireland, I’m afraid. You will need to identify where in Newfoundland they came from and make sure you know their religion as you will have to use church records to locate a marriage record for the couple. All records are organized by place in Newfoundland, there is no province wide index for church records, for example. Civil registration of marriages do not begin until 1891. There are two free websites to assist you, both contain some transcriptions of various church records. The first is Newfoundland Grand Banks Genealogy site, http://ngb.chebucto.org/ and Newfoundland GenWeb http://nl.canadagenweb.org/ There are places at the bottom of each site’s home page where you can enter names and it will search across all databases. Note that many Irish came to Newfoundland from the south east counties of Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford and Southern Tipperary. That being said, if your ancestors were Catholic, and resided in the city of St. John’s, the priests recorded the place of origin in Ireland for the marriages through most of the 19th century for immigrant couples. The Catholic Church registers for the Basilica of St. John the Baptist are online at www.familysearch.org. They are not indexed, you must browse through the database but it is a free website. The link for the exact location for the databse is here, https://familysearch.org/search/image/index#uri=https://familysearch.org/records/collection/1939435/waypoints Once on this page, select St. John’s and then select the link to the Basilica records. I will warn you the handwriting can be a challenge but it is a treasure trove of information if you have ancestors who married and had children in the city. In summary, you should:
• Identify where in Newfoundland your ancestors came from. If you do not know this and they emigrated to the U.S. then, review U.S. records they created here or their children’s records if they were born in Newfoundland. • Utilize the free websites I mentioned above to see if you can find them in any records. If you know they are of St. John’s I highly recommend you use the church records online at www.familysearch.org • You will not find this couple in Ireland if you have not located an exact place of origin. In order to do research in Irish records, you must know the exact place of origin. Once this is known, you can then identify and locate available records for research. Best of luck in your research. If I can assist you further, please do not to contact me.