The problem of place - investigating your ancestor's homeplace

Path to Irish Ancestors

Hoping to find out your ancestor's home-place? Take a step back and consider when your ancestors lived, their background and religion.

As with all family history research, it's important to think about the time in which your ancestor lived, looking back with eyes untainted by our present day way of life. While the physical place may not have changed, the concept of place may mean something different today.

For example, your ancestors' religion was likely very important to them. They would probably have lived in the same parish their entire lives, their parents and even their own children baptised and married there too. For Roman Catholics then, the church parish would be the most significant administrative unit. After 1864 civil registration of births, deaths and marriages (for all religious denominations) came into play, though in the early years a percentage of events actually went unregistered. So, the registration district (likely the nearest big town) is another administrative unit to consider (and are similar to Poor Law Unions).

To get the most from your research, take some time to learn about these administrative divisions using a good genealogy guide - you won't regret it.

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