Spot, Starlight, Cindy or Red – did your ancestor own a dog?

Best friend

Following the trail of your ancestor’s dog might not seem to be a practical route to your family’s past, but the Dog Licence Registers could show another side of your ancestor. Even if you have filled in all the gaps in your ancestor’s life (and who has?) if nothing else you’ll have a happy, fuzzy feeling after reading through the registers. Not bad for a record series that was simply a routine listing of licence holders.

The intent in imposing the licence was one of control. The local authority was keen to ensure that stray dogs, dogs worrying or attacking livestock or those causing a nuisance in other ways could be accounted for (or their owners made accountable).

Available online up to the early 1900s, they give the name, address and county of the dog owner. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be very many records of the doggy names but the fee due, gender, colour and breed is listed. Many families would have kept a dog, mostly for farming or hunting and these often doubled as family pets. Many images from the National Library of Ireland contain dogs, mostly small toy breeds popular in big houses in the 19th Century.

From another source, this is one of my favourites.

Structural Heritage

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