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The death certificate for my 3rd great-aunt (Sarah Kane Torrance, who died in Thomaston, Connecticut, USA) stated that she and her father (William Kane) were both born in "Cumber Claudy" in Co. Derry. Sarah was born around 1843 and I estimate that William was born around 1795. 

I've been trying to determine which William Kane in Upper Cumber and/or Claudy might be my 4th great grand-father - as there were several of a similar age.

I was delighted to recently discover that "Cumber Claudy" was a post town." (see first attachment) Could anyone help me identify the boundaries of this post town, somewhere around the mid 1800s? For instance, would Ballycallaghan have fallen within Cumber Claudy post town?

Or, do you suppose Sarah meant that she was from Claudy - the village in the parish of Cumber Upper? (see 2nd attachment). 

Thank you in advance, dawn 


Wednesday 9th Aug 2023, 10:58PM

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  • Claudy [in Irish, Clóidigh] is a townland within Upper Cumber civil parish (there is no Lower Cumber, apparently), and is also located in the electoral district of the same name [Claudy].  You can see more info about the townland at this link, where there is also an interactive map that lets you look around the area:…

    There are links at that site to the pages for adjoining townlands, one of which is called Cumber [in Irish, An Comar].  From the map, Claudy appears to encompass the hamlet of Claudy, while Cumber is just to the south.  Presumably, its name was used at some point in the past to name the electoral district and the civil parish.   Townland names were not standardized until later in the 19th century, so it may be that Cumber Claudy was the way people referred to the area back then,  Neither Cumber nor Claudy appears to be listed as a townland in Griffith's Valuation from the mid-1800's, nor does the combined name, so some variation of the names was presumably in use then.

    You can see the area on Google Earth by searching for Claudy, and I noticed there that there is a local school called "Cumber Claudy Primary School", so the combined name is still in use.  The Google Earth image for the area is incredibly clear, and you can see a lot of detail.

    You didn't mention whether the Kanes were Catholic.  Both townlands are now in the Catholic parish of Cumber Upper (an alternative name for which is Claudy), and the parish records which are available online can be accessed at this link:

    The records only go back to 1863, but you may be able to find a marriage record for the Kanes, if they were married in Ireland, and records for other relatives.



    Thursday 10th Aug 2023, 12:41AM
  • Thank you Kevin! My Kanes were RC. I never think to use Google Earth. You're right, the map is incredibly clear!

    I haven't been able to find the BMD records I need - the online B&M records start at 1863. I've tried NLI, Rootsireland, Ancestry, Findmypast, etc. I also contacted the RC Claudy Parish office and they said they don't have any records prior to 1870. By chance, do you know where those records are held? 

    Thank you again! dawn



    Friday 11th Aug 2023, 04:09PM
  • Glad to help.

    In general, the original parish records remain with the parish, and the images now available online are based on microfilm images taken of the originals.  At the above NLI link, in the top center there's a link called "About", which describes the process.  Basically, in the 1950's and 1960's, the original registers were taken to Dublin and microfilmed, then returned to the parishes.  In the 21st century, the images were digitized, to make them available online.  Since the records belonged to the parishes, it was possible to collect the ones from Northern Ireland as well, despite the political separation which had occurred by then.  This program was designed to supplement the civil records, which started in 1864.  Since the civil records were known to be spotty for the early years, a cut-off of 1880 (sometimes 1881) was used for the microfilmed parish records, in an attempt not to miss anyone.

    Some parishes have online records at NLI well back into the 1700's, but in general the further west one goes the later the records start.  In some cases, it may be that the parishes were poorly funded or organized at first, and didn't start keeping records until later.  Where there are gaps or no records at all, it may also be that the records were damaged or lost over time.  After the microfilming program was carried out, some parishes did find additional registers which had not been sent for microfilming, and which are not in the NLI collection, although some additional parish records in the Dublin area were added in the 1990’s.  For that reason, it's good to ask about that, if you can get through to someone at the parish who will check for you.

    There are also cases (especially in more isolated western areas) where, while the parishes were being re-established, there may not have been a building in a given parish in which to hold Catholic mass or keep records.  For that reason, if there is a nearby parish with older records, it may be worthwhile to search there as well, since people may have traveled to a nearby church for baptisms or marriages.  The officiating priest will often have stated the name of the townland where the family lived (or in some cases just the parish), even if it wasn't in his parish, which can help you to confirm that you have the right people.  In your case, two adjoining parishes have older record:  Banagher, starting in 1848, and Donaghedy, starting in 1854, so you might try there.  At the link I gave you for Cumber Upper, you can use the interactive map to move to those parishes.


    Friday 11th Aug 2023, 05:48PM
  • Thank you again, Kevin. Your explanations are very helpful! dawn


    Monday 14th Aug 2023, 12:24AM
  • Thank you again, Kevin. Your explanations are very helpful! dawn

    Thursday 17th Aug 2023, 07:27AM

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