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I am researching my Irish family history. 

My records show that my paternal great-great grandfather was Edward Joseph Bourke, who emigrated from Mayo County to Philadelphia, PA, USA in the early 1840s. I have reason to believe he was from the Castlebar area. He emigrated with his wife, Anna (nee Morton) Bourke, who was reared an Anglican but joined the Roman Catholic church when she married Edward. 

I would like to know if any reader of this might be able to help me in  my search for my Irish ancestors.


Thank you,

Richard Bourke

Scottsdale, Arizona, USA




Thursday 7th Jan 2021, 09:33PM

Message Board Replies

  • Richard:


    I searched the subscription site Roots Ireland and was not able to locate a marriage record for a Bourke to a Morton. The Aglish (Castlebar) RC parish records start in 1824 for marriages and 1838 for baptisms. Here is a link to the parish register up to 1880  The Roots Ireland staff would have transcribed the Castlebar data from this register.

    It is possible that Edward was from a parish near Castlebar that does not have records back to the early 1840s which would explain why a record is not available. Many emigrants would use the nearest big town when someone would ask where they were from 

    I checked the 1833 Tithe records for Mayo and the only Mortons listed were from Crossmolina civil parish to the north of Castlebar. Possibly Anna was from that area.

    Any other information on your family? Have you taken an autosomal DNA test?

    Let me know what questions you have.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 7th Jan 2021, 10:57PM
  • Hi Roger,

    Thank you for responding so quickly!

    I assume the Roots Ireland data covers the entire country, is this correct? Is it possible to search the entire country for any marriage record?

    What about birth and baptism records? Any available going back to around 1800?

    Finally, are there any records of emigrants during that period? I believe they departed from Glasgow.

    I don't have any other information at present, and have not done any DNA tests yet. 

    Thank you again for your kind help!

    Richard Bourke





    Tuesday 12th Jan 2021, 06:35PM
  • Richard:

    As background, civil registation of non-Catholic marriages started in 1845 and all marriages in 1864. Prior to those years, your only source would be available church records. The west of Ireland is particularly difficult for finding church records pre-1850. There are records for some churches back to 1800 and earlier particularly in the larger cities like Cork city and Dublin city.

    Roots Ireland covers most of the country where records (baptisms. marriages) are available. Co. Mayo records are included where available. Roots Ireland does not have records for part of Cork and Kerry plus Dublin city. Co. Fermanagh records are not available and also part of Co. Tipperary.

    Very few records are available for ships leaving Ireland. Not sure about Scotland but if you are going back to the 1840s, records are not likely to be found. Also is it possible they were married in Scotland?


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 13th Jan 2021, 05:39PM
  • If Anna Morton was Protestant when she married, and if she married in Ireland, the marriage had to be in Church of Ireland (or at a registry office if it was after 1845) to be legal. Many C. of I. registers were destroyed in the fire at the Four Courts in 1922 at the outbreak of the Civil War.

    Marriage laws weren't the same across the United Kingdoms of Great Britain & Ireland. Scotland has always had its' own legal system. There was a form of common-law marriage in Scotland which didn't require a clergyman or an official or a record. Scotland's People is the resource for Scottish records. Glasgow and the West of Scotland had a large Irish population.  Catholics in England were allowed to have a legal marriage in a Catholic church after 1837 as long as a registrar attended to oversee the official part. They had the option of a registry office wedding from 1837. A few Catholics in England continued to marry in Anglican churches as had been required prior to 1837. 

     Was Anna Morton born in Ireland? 

    Maggie May

    Wednesday 20th Jan 2021, 01:17AM
  • Hello Maggie,

    Thank you for your reply. I assume Anna Morton was born in western Ireland, which is stated in a book about John Gregory Bourke, one of their sons.

    Edward and Anna had a total of seven children, one of which was John Gregory, born in 1846 in Philadelphia, PA USA. Edward and Anna owned a bookstore in Philadelphia at the time, which implies they came from good circumstances when they emigrated from Ireland between 1840 and 1845. Edward passed away in Philadelphia in 1859, so I assume he was born in Ireland sometime between 1785 and 1800. I don't have any information yet about when his wife passed away.

    In rereading the book about John G. Bourke, it appears possible Edward and Anna married after arriving in the US. It just isn't clear from the wording.

    I intend to research some Philadelphia archives concerning Edward, Anna and John G. Bourke. I understand there are Catholic church records as well as some public records.

    Earlier Roger stated some Mortons were found in Crossmolina civil parish north of Castebar. Should I focus on that parish to find further information about Anna?

    What do you suggest I do to try to find out more about Edwrad Joseph Bourke's background and ancestors? Are there any baptism records going back to the late 1700's? Roger mentioned some 1833 Tithe records for Mayo, can we check these for Bourkes?

    Thank you for your help!

    Richard Bourke






    Monday 25th Jan 2021, 06:00PM

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