Congregational Records

Many requests are received from people across the world looking to trace their Irish ancestors who may have been Presbyterian.

Copies of church records, including baptism and marriage records, are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). Microfilm copies and some original copies are also held at the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland (PHSI). PRONI's ‘Guide to Church Records'  lists all the reference numbers for records they hold of Presbyterian and other denominations across Ireland.  The PRONI reference numbers for the records of Presbyterian churches which have been microfilmed are prefixed MIC 1P/ and those that are in original or Xerox form are prefixed CR3.

Please note that there are no congregational records held at Assembly Buildings.

The majority of PRONI's holdings are ostensibly for the nine historic counties of Ulster however and while they have copies for many congregations in the rest of Ireland these are incomplete. You should also contact the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland who hold a number of records for congregations in the Republic of Ireland. Please note that the PHSI does not provide a full genealogical research service.

Several other points should be noted. Until 1782 it was illegal for Presbyterian ministers to conduct marriages and not until 1845 were all restrictions lifted on marriages performed by Presbyterian ministers.   Therefore it is always advisable to check the registers of the local Church of Ireland parish up to the early 19th century.  Also, as very few Presbyterian churches had or have a graveyard attached, the practice of recording burials was not widespread and the number of registers recording these details are few.

To aid your research into your Presbyterian ancestors it is necessary to know the name of the congregation they might have attended or the townland/parish in which they resided.  Using PRONI’ s ‘Guide to Church Records' which is arranged by civil parish you can then identify the possible congregations whose records you may want to search.

Civil Registration was introduced in 1845 for marriages and 1864 for births and deaths. Those records are held at the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) for those in Nothern Ireland and General Register Office (Oifig An Ard-Chláraitheora) based at Roscommon for those in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland up to 1922 .

It is important to note that there are several strands of Presbyterianism and it might also be worth checking the following churches via their websites for additional historical information.