CONFERENCE 3 October 2015


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We are pleased to announce that our Annual Day Conference and AGM will be held at the Carrs Lane Conference Centre, Carrs Lane, Birmingham, B4 7SX on Saturday October 3rd 2015. This is a new venue for us and we hope it will be a convenient location for all as it is close to bus, rail services, and car parks. We look forward to welcoming friends old and new.

The two main speakers this year are:

  • Ruth Barbour of Warwick University on ‘The Middling Sort of Catholic in eighteenth century Warwickshire’.
  • Tony Hadland of the Oxfordshire Local History Society on ‘Recusants of Oxfordshire and Berkshire’

A Family History Help Desk will be available at lunch-time and late afternoon. Please use this to ask any questions of our researchers to help your investigations and bring along any documents and materials that you would like to discuss.

The cost is £15.00, it is subsidised by the CFHS and includes a sandwich lunch, and tea/coffee and cold drinks.

Tickets are available by post from:

Mrs J M Smith
10 Irving Close

Cheques payable to Catholic FHS please. You may also pay on the door but please let us know in advance if you are intending to do this.

Our Latest Publication



cat-d-013St.Mary’s RC Church, Mulberry Street, Manchester. Full transcriptions with register images.

  • Baptisms : 1794-1812, 1812-1819, 1820-1831, 1832-1841 & 1842-50
  • Marriages : 1831-1836
  • Burials : 1816-1825 & 1832-1837
  • plus a List of Parents, extracted from the Baptism Registers

St.Mary’s is the oldest existing Catholic Church in Manchester and Salford. The Manchester Mission first began in 1773, in a room in Roman Entry (off High St.). In 1776, it moved to Rook Street Chapel (off Market St.). The Mission finally moved, in 1794, to Mulberry Street and remained on the same site, as a functioning parish church, to the present day. The Registers have been fully transcribed and, with the exception of the Marriages, are presented in Surname sorted order in searchable PDF format.

Baptisms are contiguous from 1794 to 1850. The Burial ground is under the floor of the church (now sealed). The Registers have a seven year gap, with a further 18-month break within the second register. Legal marriages were not permitted here until 1837, but the Register records the Sacrament of Marriage for a five year period. In the absence of a full Marriage Register, there is a list of Parents, extracted from the five Baptism Registers and presented as two (father & mother) surname sorted tables with the child’s Baptism date to help fix a time frame. Also the parents list is supplied as an unformatted (CSV) text file, which may be copied into a spreadsheet for personal analysis. The Clergy are listed, with the date of their first appearance in a register.

These records are presented in DVD format and the publication can be ordered on our GENfair site.

More Irish Catholic Records coming online

More information about Irish Catholic register courtesy of The British GENES Blog

National Library of Ireland Announces its Most Significant Ever Digitisation Project for Irish Genealogy

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has today (01.12.14) unveiled details of its most ambitious digitisation project to date. The project will see the Library’s entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms made available online – for free – by summer 2015.

The records are considered the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Dating from the 1740s to the 1880s, they cover 1,091 parishes throughout Ireland, and consist primarily of baptismal and marriage records.

Commenting today, Colette O’Flaherty, Head of Special Collections at the NLI, said: “This is the most ambitious digitisation project in the history of the NLI, and our most significant ever genealogy project. We believe it will be of huge assistance to those who wish to research their family history. At this stage, we have converted the microfilm reels on which the registers are recorded into approximately 390,000 digital images. We will be making all these images available, for free, on a dedicated website, which will be launched in summer 2015.

“Anyone tracing Irish family history will be able to access this site – from anywhere in the world – and search for the parish in which they are interested. They will be able to see a list of registers for that parish, and will be able to click on whichever registers they like to browse through the images contained within.

“The information in the registers varies from parish to parish but, typically, includes the dates of the baptisms or marriages, and the names of the key people involved, including godparents or witnesses. Obviously, such information is extremely valuable for both amateur genealogists and professional researchers.

“The microfilms have been available to visitors to the NLI since the 1970s. However, this project means that, for the first time, anyone who likes will be able to access these registers without having to travel to Dublin.”

Contribution of the Catholic Church
Ms. O’Flaherty said the registers are a wonderful legacy of the Catholic Church to Ireland.

“The role of the Catholic Church in creating and maintaining these records during some of the most turbulent times in Irish history must be acknowledged and praised,” she said. “Most census records from this period were destroyed in the Four Courts fire of 1922, so these parish registers are the most comprehensive surviving source of information on Irish families in the 1700s and 1800s.

“The NLI has worked with the Catholic Church to preserve these registers since the 1950s, when we were initially invited to make microfilm copies. Now, in the 21st Century – and in keeping with our aim of enhancing accessibility through making our collections available online – we are delighted to embark on this major digitisation project.”

What Type of Information Will be Available?
The 390,000 digital images due to be published by the NLI will be searchable by parish location only. They will not be transcribed or indexed by the NLI, and the images will be of the microfilms of the original registers, which – in some cases – were in poor condition when the microfilming took place. The images will be in black and white.

“Anyone who has traced their family history knows it can sometimes be frustrating due to illegible handwriting on original records or poor-quality reproductions or transcriptions,” said Colette O’Flaherty. “Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to transcribe or index the images we are making available.

County Carlow Roman Catholic records on RootsIreland



I don’t normally blog about Irish records as our society really only deals with Catholic Family History for England, Wales, and Scotland, but I found out about these newly available records from the The British GENES Blog and quite a few readers will be interested in them.

Roman Catholic parish records from County Carlow have been transcribed and made available on RootsIreland. The following are the parishes available, followed by year ranges for baptisms (146,000 entries) and then marriages (58,000 records):

  • Bagenalstown,  1820 – 1899,  1820 – 1899
  • Ballon,  1781 – 1899,  1778 – 1899
  • Borris,  1782 – 1899,  1782 – 1899
  • Cathedral of The Assumption,  1744 – 1899,  1769 – 1899
  • Clonegal,  1831 – 1899,  1800 – 1899
  • Clonmore,  1819 – 1899,  1813 – 1899
  • Graiguecullen/Killeshin, 1808 – 1899,  1820 – 1899
  • Hacketstown,  1823 – 1899,  1824 – 1899
  • Leighlinbridge,  1783 – 1899,  1783 – 1899
  • Myshall,  1846 – 1899,  1812 – 1899
  • Rathvilly,  1797 – 1899,  1804 – 1899
  • St. Mullins,  1796 – 1899,  1804 – 1899
  • Tinryland,  1806 – 1899,  1813 – 1899
  • Tullow,  1739 – 1899,  1748 – 1899

The digitised images for these and all Roman Catholic parish registers up to 1880 or 1900 (varies between parishes) will be available on the National Library of Ireland website in the middle of this year, though will not be indexed, only browsable.

RootsIreland is a subscription site, not a free site. The British GENES Blog is well worth a look, always lots of useful information.

Finding Catholic Nuns



Thanks to Jim Lancaster for the following information. It was in response to a question that appeared on the Manchester & Lancashire FHS Forum – I have edited it slightly.

Catholic nuns (there are Anglican and other nuns of whom I know nothing) are awkward to find because they ‘disappear’.  They took a name in religion and generally were not recorded.  Priests, on the other hand, are usually recorded in the annual Catholic Directory, etc.

There are two databases listing nuns.  The first relates to nuns before
1800.  This lists English nuns that entered convents in exile – in Europe.
It is only towards the end of the 1700s that convents were established in
England.  This list is the result of an academic project at Queen Mary
College, University of London,  The project is called “Who Were The Nuns”
and there is a web-site at  (NOTE the odd
address, not www, )  There is a search engine that will work on surname
alone and will provide a list of matches and clicking on each name will give
a brief outline of their life.

The second database relates to post-1800 and is probably the one you will
need.  This is being developed by the Catholic FHS and its site
( ) has the following note –

This is an index of approximately 14,000 nuns who were in the English
Province of their Order. It is arranged alphabetically by the surname of
each nun and usually gives date of birth, names of parents, religious name,
dates of profession, date and place of death and name of Order. There is no
charge for searching in this index at the moment.
The records are being updated to incorporate all additions since 1996 and
the updated index will then be published. This is a long term project and
there is no planned date at the moment.

There is a contact link at the top of the Services page, or you can write to
Mrs M. Butler, 6 Windcroft Close, Enfield, Middlesex  EN2 7BJ.  Whilst the
note on the web-site states there is no charge, that Society’s journal
suggests a donation of £5.  The list is not complete for a variety of
reasons.  Some congregations have disappeared over time and their records
lost, others have been reluctant to participate in the past and their
cooperation is being sought.

Conference and AGM 2015


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For 2015 we are using a new venue – The Carr Lane Conference Centre in Birmingham and the event will take place on Saturday 3 October. The speakers and subjects have not yet been decided, but further details will appear here in due course. Hopefully by having the conference in the middle of England will make it accessible to people who could not travel to Manchester or London.

Catholic History Podcasts by the ECHA

The English Catholic History Association have launched a series of podcasts which are available in the iTunes Store.   By subscribing to this free podcast you will be able to download the talks to a media player of your choice.  In the forthcoming months they will be sending each talk to the podcast on a weekly basis.

The current podcast is described below and  they all can be found by following this link.

Recusant Liturgy by Michael Hodgetts

Michael Hodgetts reviews the 300 years of liturgical practice of Catholics under penal conditions in England from the mid 1500s to early Victorian times. Music, missals, primers, chapel architecture and decoration, official and unofficial records of one sort or another, contribute to our knowledge of the quite elaborate rites that took place in wealthy country houses, despite unfavourable circumstances. We also get an impression of the secrecy and isolation under which priests laboured in order to bring the sacraments to Catholics in towns and villages.



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