Church Records...

Prior to the commencement of civil registration the main sources of family history information are church registers.

PRONI has a vast collection of microfilms and photostat copies of church records, as well as some original material, relating to nearly all denominations in the Newry area.

Family historians should consult the Guide to Church Records published by the Ulster Historical Foundation in 1994. This lists, parish by parish, all the church records held by PRONI. Copies of the Guide are available in the Public Search Room and Microfilm Reading Room in PRONI.

Before looking at the range of material that can be found in church records, it would be useful to summarise the background to the four main denominations that can be found in the Newry:

The information found in church records can be categorised as follows:

Baptismal registers

The basic information provided in a baptismal register is the name of the child, the name of the father and the date of baptism. The mother’s name will usually be given as will a specific location. The occupation of the father and the date of birth of the child may also be provided. Roman Catholic registers will normally give the names of the sponsors of the child.

Marriage registers

Prior to the standardisation of marriage registers after 1845 for non-Catholics and 1864 for Catholics, these will give in their simplest form the date of the marriage and the names of the bride and groom. The residence and the name of the father of each party are often provided. The names of the witnesses may also be given.

Burial registers

Burial registers can be fairly uninformative, with the name of the deceased, the date of burial and occasionally the occupation and age at death given. The deaths of children will usually include the name of the father, while the burial of a wife may include her husband’s name. Many Catholic ‘burial’ registers are actually registers recording payments made at the funeral of the deceased.

Vestry minute books

Vestry minute books record the deliberations of the parish vestry and will be found, where they survive, with the Church of Ireland records for a particular parish.

The role of the vestry included the upkeep of the Church of Ireland church, the maintenance of roads in the parish and the care of the destitute and abandoned children. The money to pay for these things was raised through a cess or tax on the land in the parish.

Vestry minute books are a rich source of information on life in a parish in bygone times. Occasionally they will include a list of the names of the parishioners drawn up for taxation purposes.

The following church records are available for the parish of Newry.

Church of Ireland (formerly St Patrick’s and then St Mary’s) (Dromore diocese)

  • Baptisms, 1804-14, 1817, 1819 and 1822-94;
  • marriages 1784-1963;
  • burials, 1824-76;
  • index of baptisms, marriages and burials,
    1784-c.1910;
  • vestry minutes, 1775-1948;
  • select vestry minutes, 1877-1909;
  • registers of vestryman, 1870-1935;
  • preachers’ books, 1878-1957;
  • registers of pews occupied, 1886-1926, and
  • subscribers, 1886-1959

MIC/1/46-48; D/2034

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland (Dromore diocese)

[Restored as a chapel of ease and became a separate parish in 1870]

  • Baptisms 1847-1926;
  • burials, 1862-1919

MIC/1/120; D/2034

For marriages, see above.

Newry Methodist

  • Baptisms, 1826-44

MIC/429/1/410

  • Baptisms, 1830;
  • marriages, 1892-

In local custody

Newry Non-Subscribing Presbyterian

  • Baptisms, 1779-97, 1809-63, 1900, 1909-12 and 1934;
  • marriages, 1781-95, 1809-45 and 1892;
  • list of communicants, 1810-42;
  • minutes and accounts, 1877-98 and 1938-66,
  • with lists of pew holders, c.1820;
  • notes on ministers and the congregations, c.1690-1909

CR4/1, 3; T.699/7

Katesbridge Presbyterian

[United with Ballydown in 1938]

  • Baptisms, 1866-1929; marriages, 1867-1935;
  • lists of communicants, 1867, 1869-70, 1873 and 1876-1901;
  • session minutes, 1872, 1876
  • and 1899; deaths, 1909-41

MIC 1P/170

1st Newry Presbyterian

[See also under Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church above]

  • Baptisms, 1829-;
  • marriages 1830

In local custody

Downshire Road Presbyterian

  • Baptisms, 1849-1965;
  • marriages, 1845-1909;
  • communicants’ roll,

1884-99 MIC/1P/106

Ryans Presbyterian

Baptisms, 1851

In local custody

Newry Roman Catholic (Dromore diocese)

  • Baptisms, 1818-84;
  • index to baptisms, 1858-;
  • marriages,1820-1917;
  • funerals, 1818-62

MIC 1D/26-28