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I am searching for William James Hall born in Enniskillen and immigrated to Ontario Canada about 1856 when he was about 13 years old.  He married Eliza Fletcher in Ontario Canada and after she died he remarried a Tomisinia Atkinson.





Friday 5th Nov 2021, 02:40PM

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  • Statutory birth, death and marriage registration (in some jurisdictions called Vital Records) only started in Ireland in 1864, save for non RC marriages which were recorded from 1845 onwards. So you probably won’t find statutory birth, death or marriage certificates in Ireland for this family. For earlier years you usually need to rely on church records, where they exist.  Ideally you need to know the precise denomination and have some idea of where the person was born in order to search the correct records. Not all churches have records for that period and not all are on-line. 

    You really need parents names from a marriage or death certificate to be sure of finding the right Hall family.

    RC records are mostly on-line on the nli site:

    For other denominations, the churches usually hold the originals but there are also copies in PRONI, the public record office, in Belfast. A personal visit is required to access them. Access to the records there is free. This link explains what records exist, parish by parish:

    If you are unable to go yourself, you could employ a researcher. Researchers in the PRONI area:

    Looking at the 1901 census for Fermanagh. There were 171 people named Hall. Most were Churhc of Ireland (Anglican) with a few Methodist & Presbyterian. A very small number were Catholic. If your family were Church of Ireland then the bad news is that the early records for Enniskillen were lost in the 1922 fire. There are some fragments pre 1861 details are on the PRONI site (use the link above).


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 5th Nov 2021, 03:46PM
  • Thank you for your detailed reply.  It was extremely helpful.  I live in Canada so unfortunately visiting the PRONI in Belfast isn't possible.  I believe William Hall was an Anglican.   I knew researching a William James Hall in Ireland was like "looking for a needle in a haystack"!  I will continue to search the immigration records as I believe he was very young and possibly immigrated with his family.  Thanks again for taking the time to reply to my message, it is greatly appreciated. If anything happens to turn up (I am a hopeless optimist) my email in Ontario, Canada is  Be safe, Barb








    Saturday 6th Nov 2021, 02:14PM
  • Just by way of general background, Hall is a name from the Scottish Borders, so chances are your ancestors originated in that area in the 1600s. Half the population of Co. Fermanagh has similar origins. Your ancestors are known as Border Reivers. (reiver is a Scots work for a robber).

    The broad historical background to the Reivers arrival in Ireland is that when King James I became King of England in 1603, he was already King of Scotland and so then became the first King of both countries.  For hundreds of years the Scottish Borders had been fairly lawless and travellers were routinely robbed, and cattle often stolen and herded across the border by moonlight.  James was particularly keen to stamp this out because he saw it as an obstacle to commerce between the 2 countries, and being joint ruler that bothered him more than his predecessors.

    At the same time he had the problem of Ireland. The Spanish Armada had recently attempted to invade England and further invasions by the Spanish or French were feared. Ireland was seen as a possible jumping off point for such an invasion and understandably, the native Irish could not be relied on to support the English or resist any invasion. So the solution was to plant trusted settlers from England, Wales & Scotland in Ireland, in large numbers, to subdue the native Irish and be on hand to deal with any invasion. King James I was a Scot and so particularly favoured his fellow countrymen. Much of Ulster, was heavily settled by Scots. During the 1600s, some 200,000 Scots settled in Ireland representing something like 15% of the entire Scottish nation. They didn’t all come as part of the Plantation. Some settled in the 1640s when General Munro's 10,000 strong Scottish army was disbanded at Carrickfergus after the 1641 uprising, and a further batch came in the 1690s due to famine in Scotland.

    As far as the Reivers were concerned, King James I decided to move large numbers to Ireland around 1610 onwards. He needed settlers in Ireland and he wanted to get rid of the Reivers from the Borders, or at least stop the criminality by breaking their control of that area. So moving them to Ireland was a bit of a masterstroke which killed two birds with one stone. So if your ancestors are Reivers, they probably arrived in the first 20 years of the 1600s, as part of the Plantation of Ireland.

    There are no records of individual settlers at that time. We do know the names of the big landowners (Scots & English) but not of their tenants and others who followed them. 

    If you visit Border towns like Selkirk, Hawick, Galashiels & Jedburgh today, you will find a strong Reiver tradition with folk & food festivals every summer.  You can go for a Reiver walk by moonlight and have a 16th century banquet. (The usual tourist nonsense but good fun all the same). For example, see:

    If you want a detailed read about the Reivers, a good book is Godfrey Watson’s “The Border Reivers” published in 1974, ISBN 0 709 4478 4. Plenty of bloodthirsty, cruel tales.  The Halls get a mention.

    See also:



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 6th Nov 2021, 04:59PM

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