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I have recently found that I am descended from a line of Irvine's from County Tyrone. James Irvine was born about 1818 in Cookstown. He emigrated to Lanarkshire, Scotland before 1840. He worked as a clockmaker. He was married in a Catholic church in Glasgow, Scotland. He had 2 sons baptized in Scotland, Andrew Charles Irvine and James Johnston Irvine. I noticed there were Johnston's on this board and I thought that might be a lead.

In 1844, his family emigrated to the United States. He traveled with an Andrew Irvine who was born in 1831 and  Mary Anne Connelly born in 1828. In 1850  he is also living with John Irvine, born about 1820 and Hugh Irvine born 1833. I believe all of them were born in county Tyrone. 

Sorry for the rambling. I am looking for any connections or leads on where to look for further information for births or parentage. Was Cookstown a large town during this time? Is there a connection between this area and Lanarkshire, Glasgow Scotland?

Tuesday 14th Apr 2020, 02:53PM

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  • If you are looking for John Irvine’s birth in Cookstown c 1818 then you need church records. Statutory birth registration didn’t start in Ireland till 1864 and before that we have to rely on church records, where they exist. To do that you need to know the person’s denomination. You have mentioned that James married in a Catholic church in Scotland but do you know if he was originally RC himself? I ask because, looking at the 1901 census for Tyrone, there are 191 people named Irvine, and all are either Presbyterian or Church of Ireland. Not a single Catholic.

    Cookstown is in the parish of Derryloran. The Church of Ireland records start in 1795 and have been transcribed. They are on-line on this link. I had a look around 1818 but do not see James. You might want to double check as well as look for the other names you have listed:

    There are 3 Presbyterian churches in the parish. 1st Presbyterian’s records start in 1836, 2nd Presbyterian in 1822 and 3rd in 1835. The RC records start in 1827.

    The RC parish records are on-line free on the National Library site:

    The Presbyterian records are not on-line. They have been copied and are held in PRONI (the public record office) in Belfast. A personal visit is required to view them. Obviously they don’t cover the years when John & James were born but you might find Andrew & Hugh’s births.

    If the family was Presbyterian or Church of Ireland then that tends to point to them being descendants of families who settled in the Cookstown area as part of the Plantation of Ireland in the 1600s. They likely came from Scotland.

    Here’s Pigots Directory for 1824 detailing what Cookstown was like then:

    There are 2 watch and clockmakers listed, named Samuel Brown and Robert Gillmore. Perhaps your ancestor was apprenticed to one of them?

    You ask about connections between Cookstown and Lanarkshire. Huge numbers of people left the counties of Ulster for Scotland all through the 1800s. Ireland lacks natural resources. No coal, oil, iron ore etc, and so apart from a modest amount of shipbuilding in Belfast and the Belfast linen mills (which mostly only employed women), it did not really get the industrial revolution that benefited England and Scotland where mills, steelworks, ship building, coal mining and all their support industries were major employers creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Much better paid than subsistence farming or weaving. Added to that you had the effects of a massive population explosion in Ireland – up from 3 million in 1750 to 8 million in 1841 (no-one is really sure of the reasons why but reduced neo-natal deaths seem to be a factor) and the famine. So some push factors and some pull factors saw huge numbers of people leave Ireland. Something like 8 million people emigrated from Ireland between 1801 & 1921.

    If you look at the Scottish censuses for the Glasgow area in the late 1800s, you will see that about every fifth person recorded there was born in Ireland. Scotland was a particularly popular place to go to work because it was easy and very cheap to get to. Several sailings every day from Belfast. The shipping companies main business was cargo and the passengers were just top-up revenue. Competition was fierce and passenger fares very low. People working in Scotland could come home for weddings or the harvest, as well as holidays (Glasgow used to shut down for 2 weeks every July, known as the Glasgow Fair holiday and there would then be a huge exodus to Ireland).  You could also send children back to stay with their grandparents, thereby leaving the wife free to work. You couldn’t do all those things so easily from Australia, America or Canada. 

    Lanarkshire was full of coal mines, steel works and other heavy industries. There were thousands of new jobs going there all through the 1800s. Going from Ireland to Scotland (or England) and then on somewhere else eg the USA was very common. It’s called stepped migration.

    James Irvine appears on a tree on Ancestry (Gatt family). It notes that Andrew b 1831 and John b 1820 were James’ half brothers. It isn’t clear what the source is for that information. No parents names are recorded.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 15th Apr 2020, 04:57AM
  • Thank you Elwyn! I am the Gatt tree. This is wonderful information. I don't know if James was born RC. His wife was born in Malta, she listed Ireland once as her place of birth, but all other times Malta. She was in Scotland as a child and the church was her church. She recieved First communion/confirmation there. I will look into all possibilities. Thank you

    Wednesday 15th Apr 2020, 12:58PM
  • If Margaret Costelloe was born in Malta, I’d suspect a military connection there. Her father may have been in the army. I am not an expert on military research but if you know when she was born, you can probably find out which regiments were stationed there then, and then search the regimental records for her family.  (Births and marriages were often recorded in military records). The military records are probably in the National Archives in Kew London.

    Or you could try the main GRO in England which also holds military births overseas. According to their website they have:

    Deaths that occurred in the Boer War and both World Wars, and British Army Regimental records of births, baptisms and marriages, dating back to 1761.

    You may place an order online for a full certificate of an overseas birth (which will include parents’ details) a death certificate, a marriage or a civil partnership certificate.

    A full list of overseas records held by GRO can be found at GOV.UK. Applications made by telephone or post will incur an additional administration charge to cover the extra work of processing.


    I see you have the family in the 1841 Scottish census. Just to make you aware, in the 1841 census (only) adults ages were rounded down to the nearest 5. So someone aged 20 – 24 would be recorded as 20, someone 25 – 29 as 25, and so on.  So the ages may not appear to tie in perfectly with ages in later records.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 15th Apr 2020, 02:12PM

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