A Catholic Family History Society Seminar – Update

Preliminary programme

A Catholic Family History Society Seminar, followed by the AGM.

Saturday 7 October 2017 10.00- 16.00

at the Conference Rooms, 24 Tufton Street London, SW1P 3RB

Rory Higgins FSC from Australia will deliver a paper to introduce and explain the background to his latest database:
The Margaret Higgins Index and Details of 250, 000 English Catholics and their Friends 1680-1840.

William. D. Shannon will also be speaking.

Using the Records of the Forfeited Estates Commission (1715 – 1724) at TNA to reconstruct Catholic Lancashire before and after the First Jacobite Rebellion

It has taken him many years to compile and will be a major new resource for all historians interested in English Catholic history.

More details will follow.
To express an interest in attending, contact catholicrecords@gmail.com

The Destruction of the Irish Record Office

For many people researching their Irish genealogy, the destruction of the Dublin record office in 1922 during the civil war, has left huge gaping holes in what information is actually available.

The Public Record Office of Ireland, at Four Courts, Dublin had in fact been occupied Image Ref. No. 0507/060during the Easter Rising, however remarkably no serious damage had been done to the archives, famously the only record had actually been destroyed, that being the 19th century will of an Irish soldier. However six years later, on the 3rd June 1922, the record office was blown up, with one enormous explosive device.

Eye witnesses recall that on that day, it literally rained archives in Dublin city. The smouldering remains of a thousand years of history, held in parish registers, census records, wills, court records, minute books, proclamations, etc. were scattering the streets. Some were retrieved and rescued, some handed in to the authorities, and other kept by private individuals.

The 1922 explosion and subsequent fire destroyed the national census records from 1821-1851, half the parochial registers of the Church of Ireland (Catholic registers were stored elsewhere), all pre 1900 court and government records, and centuries of wills, the irreplaceable loss will always hamper the efforts of individuals attempting to trace their Irish ancestry, however we should pay tribute to the Irish Genealogical Research Society  formed in 1936, when its members set about attempting to find surviving records, rescued, but still held in private hands. Through their efforts much material was repatriated into the National Archives, and thanks to their tireless efforts, records previously thought lost have now been preserved for the future. Their website linked above, is always a good start for anybody wanting to find out more about their Irish ancestors.



During the 1900s and 1910s large numbers of young men emigrated from the slums of English cities to start new lives in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

When in 1914, War broke out, these men enlisted with their local regiments, and returned to Europe to fight for King and Country.

While 2/3 of the WW1 army service records of English regiments were destroyed in the blitz in WW2. The service records of Australian, Canadian and New Zealand regiments have survived complete and intact, and have now been digitised online, where they are free to view.

The website Canadian Great War Project provides a wealth of sources on all soldiers who served with Canadian regiments. Both those who died, and those who survived.

The National Archives of Australia have released all their regimental records on their website.

The New Zealand National Archives have also produced all regimental records on their website

Society Conference Programme

Catholic Family History Society

Conference with AGM 1st October 2016

The Priory Rooms Conference Centre

40 Bull Street

Birmingham B4 6AF


10.00 – 10.30 am Registration and coffee

11.00 am Maggie Loughran, professional genealogy speaker and writer

Wills before 1858, especially those of Roman Catholics.

Bring your own interests in wills for discussion.

12.30pm Buffet lunch

2pm AGM

2.30pm Dr Nick Baker, archivist at Princethorpe College, Warwickshire

Locating the archives of religious orders, followed by your

questions and contributions.

4.00pm Tea

Full access for people with restricted mobility and also parking
Family History Help Desk available: bring your research enquiries
Opportunity to meet other members and friends
Opportunity to talk to the speakers
Material for family or local history
Travel, local parking, hotel and local studies information on request
For details about the venue see theprioryrooms.co.uk
Tickets: £15, to include lunch and all refreshments, from jeansmith1934@talktalk.net

Website: http://www.catholicfhs.co.uk

A member of the Federation of Family History SocietiesSociety

Heritage Open Days 2016



Heritage Open Days 2016 will be taking place between September 8-11. Catholic sites open to the public include:


South West

Lulworth Castle & Park, Wareham, Dorset

St Edmund’s Church, Calne, Wiltshire

St Peter’s Church, Devizes, Wiltshire

St Peter’s Church, Gloucester

Meet the Marian Franciscan’s of St Mary’s, Gosport, Hampshire

Eyre Chapel, Bath, Somerset


South East

Notre Dame High School, Norwich, Norfolk

St Edmund’s Church, Bury St Edmund’s, Suffolk

St James Church, Reading, Berkshire

St Columba’s Church, Chesham, Buckinghamshire

St James the Less & St Helen’s Church, Colchester

St Joseph & the English Martyrs Church, Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire

St Joseph’s Church, Dorking, Surrey

St Raphael’s Church, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey


East Midlands

St Mary on the Sea Church, Grimsby, Lincolnshire


West Midlands

Coughton Court, Alcester, Warwickshire

Polish Catholic Mission, Leamington Spa. Warwickshire

St Peter’s Church, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Princethorpe Benedictine College, Rugby, Warwickshire

St Anne’s Church, Wappenbury, Warwickshire

St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham

Birmingham Oratory

Ss Peter & Paul Church, Wolverhampton

Holy Trinity Church, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire

St Joseph’s Church, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire

Sacred Heart Church, Tunstall, Staffordshire


North West

St Werburg’s Church, Chester, Cheshire

St Ann’s Church, Ashton under Lyne

St Chad’s Church, The Manchester Oratory, Cheetham Hill, Manchester

St Wulstan’s Church & School, Fleetwood, Lancashire

St Clare’s Church, Sefton Park, Liverpool

Ss Peter & Paul Church, New Brighton, Merseyside

Holy Apostles & Martyrs Church, Wallasey, Merseyside


North East

St Cuthbert’s Church, Old Elvet, Co Durham

Ushaw College, Co Durham

St Hilda’s Church, Whitby, North Yorkshire

St Ninian’s Church, Baxtergate, Whitby, North Yorkshire

Biddlestone RC Chapel, Netherton, Northumberland

St Cuthbert’s Church, Bradford, Yorkshire

Middleton Calvary, Illey, West Yorkshire

St Hilda’s Church, Leeds

St Saviours Church, Leeds

St Joseph’s Church, Pontefract

St Columba’s Church, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear




For more information about any of these events check the websitehods-logo

Visit to Caversham, Thursday 22nd September 2016 — English Catholic History Association

10.30 Arrival and tea, coffee and biscuits or homemade cake 11.00 Talk Aspects of Pilgrimage by Lindsay Mullaney, followed by questions 12.15 Mass 13.00 Lunch (bring your own sandwiches; tea and coffee provided). There will be an opportunity to look round the Church and the Shrine 14.00 Talk Medieval Pilgrimage to Reading by John Mullaney, […]

via Visit to Caversham, Thursday 22nd September 2016 — English Catholic History Association

St Nicholas Owen: Priest-hole Maker by Tony Reynolds — English Catholic History Association

St Nicholas Owen was arguably one of the most fearless and courageous of the Catholic martyrs of the Reformation. He learnt joinery as a trade and put his skills to use in fashioning the most ingenious priest-holes in England during penal times. Finally he was caught and tortured, giving nothing away to his tormentors. He […]

via St Nicholas Owen: Priest-hole Maker by Tony Reynolds — English Catholic History Association