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I am trying to find any Irish records for my 3rd Great Grandfather Richard Work.  The attached US Citizenship papers indicate he was born in County Donegal in 1804 and arrived in the US in 1819. There is no indication what parish or town his family lived in.    I have no records of his parents, siblings, etc.    Any help would be greatly appreciated !   


Thank you in advance, 


Tim Reed 


Tuesday 4th Oct 2022, 02:04PM

Message Board Replies

  • Tim:

    The surname Work appears to be very rare in Co. Donegal. For example, I looked at the 1901 census for the county and there were no individuals with that surname. Civil registration of births started in 1864 in Ireland so before 1864, we rely on any available church records. I'm going to assume that your family were Church of Ireland.

    I looked at the Tithe listings from the 1820s and found one Work record in Co. Donegal. He lived in Ballyargus townland in Moville Upper civil parish which is in northeast Co. Donegal on the Inishowen Peninsula. See link below. John is listed half way down

    On the subscription site Roots Ireland, I found two baptismal records in the Church of Ireland parish in Moville Upper.

    John Work baptized January 10 1817 (born January 8) father William Work mother Mary Work

    Robert Work baptized February 15 1824 (born February 7) father John Work mother Elizabeth (no last name provided). The John Work in this record is likely the same individual in the Tithe listing.

    So I think it is likely that your Richard Work came from the same parish and possibly was related to John and William.

    By the way, I did not find any Work Records in the 1857 Griffiths Valuation head of household listing for Co. Donegal.

    Have you considered DNA testing? Possibly you will have matches with individuals who may have more info on the origins of your Work family.

    Roger McDonnell


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 4th Oct 2022, 02:40PM
  • Hi Roger,

    Thank you very much for this information.  I have had my DNA tested and uploaded on Ancestry.   I have been digging through the different tools, but have not had too much luck going back far.  I will keep plugging away.   I feel more optimistic having the information you provided.    


    Thanks again and Best Regards,




    Wednesday 5th Oct 2022, 01:49AM
  • Tim,

    Family Tree DNA reportedly has more people with Ulster roots than any other company. That obviously increases the chances of finding a match. You might want to try them or, if you have already tested, you can transfer your results to them for no fee.

    The North of Ireland Family History Society is running an Ulster DNA project in conjunction with FTDNA and can offer testing kits at a reduced price. (Go to DNA project on the website).


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 5th Oct 2022, 09:00PM
  • Hello Tim,

    Genealogist John Grenham of the subscription website, Irish Ancestors, writes that Work is an alternate surname to the more populous spellings, Wark, and Warke, found predominately in County Donegal. John also shows that there are 37 householders with the Wark surname in an Irish property tax record known as Griffiths Valuation, followed by 24 with the spelling Warke, and two with the variant, “Work.”

    He also shows the variants of the surname in Irish civil registration birth records from 1864 to 1913, this time with Warke being the more prominent spelling.

    The earliest evidence I found for the Wark surname is in the 1796 Flax Growers List for Donegal, which shows a Henry Wark in Taughboyne; Joseph Wark in Moville Upper; Robert Wark, also in Moville Upper; and William Wark in Clonleigh. I didn’t find the surname Work in the Flax Growers List in Donegal. Names in the Falx Growers List are alphabetical, with last names first. See the typescript from the website link at:

    An Irish agricultural land record known as the Tithe Applotment Books (noted by Roger in his reply), shows that the surname Wark in County Donegal is exclusive to the townland of Augherbegg, civil parish of Killymard. See:

    The Tithe Applotment Books also shows there are two occupiers named Wark in County Meath:

    Even though the information above shows that Wark and Warke were the more popular surname spelling variants, there is that possibility that your Richard and his family in County Donegal spelled their name, “Work,” also noted in Roger’s reply. Roger cites the Tithe Applotment Books showing that a John Work was recorded as living in Ballyargus, civil parish of Moville Upper, and also citing the Church of Ireland baptisms of John Work in 1817 and Robert Work in 1824.

    In this reply I had just wanted to mention the Wark and Warke spellings of the name as another avenue of research when you are looking for your ancestors in Ireland.

    This may be a challenge though, as there are no civil registration birth records in Ireland that go back to the early 1800s.

    Civil registration began in Ireland in 1845, but at this time only Protestant and civil marriages were recorded. Catholic marriages were not recorded, even though Catholics were in the majority.

    Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths for all religious denominations were recorded by the government beginning in 1864. This narrows the search down to church parish registers as primary resources.

    For more information about Irish church records, go to the Ireland Reaching Out blog entitled, “How To Research Historical Irish Church Records” at:

    I suspect your ancestor Richard and his family in Ireland belonged to the Church of Ireland, but there is also the possibility they may have been Presbyterian. If Presbyterian however, your chances of finding a baptism record for him and a marriage record for his parents is decreased, as very few Presbyterian church records in Donegal go back to the 1804 time period when Richard was born.

    For example, at the RootsIreland website, where Roger had searched the Church of Ireland Registers for Richard Work’s baptism, there is only one Presbyterian Parish with baptisms predating 1804. This is the parish of Donaghmore, with baptisms beginning in 1803, and marriages in 1820. RootsIreland also shows that the Ramelton 1st Presbyterian Church has early registers, though baptisms are available from 1806 and marriages in 1807.

    RootsIreland shows several Church of Ireland parishes with baptism registers that predate 1804, as you’ll see below. I’ve also included one Church of Ireland parish with registers from 1805. These parishes are:

    Clondovadogg, with baptisms and marriages from 1794
    Drumhome, with baptism from 1719 and marriages from 1691
    Fahan Upper, with baptisms from 1762 and marriages from 1814
    Inver, with baptisms and marriages from 1805
    Moville Upper with baptisms from 1804, but no marriages
    Raphoe, with baptisms and marriage from 1771
    Stranorlar, with baptisms from 1802 and marriages from 1821
    Tullyaughnish with baptisms from 1798 and marriage from 1788.

    What you may want to consider is one of RootsIreland subscription packages and look for Wark and Warke baptisms in the available Church of Ireland parish registers, as well as the two Presbyterian Church registers noted above.

    There are four different RootsIreland subscription packages available. The 1 day package costs $18. The 1 month package costs $35. The 6 month subscription is $146, and the 1 year subscription $264. These prices are in U.S. dollars. See:

    There is no guarantee however that you’ll uncover Richard’s baptism record or the marriage of his parents under the surname Wark or Warke at RootsIreland. But going through RootsIreland I believe, will be the quickest and least expensive way of looking for Richard’s baptism in County Donegal, especially with the 1 day subscription.

    In your message to Ireland Reaching Out you had mentioned that you attached Richard Work’s citizenship papers, showing he was born in Donegal in 1804 and arriving in the U.S. in 1819.

    I didn’t find the attachment with your message, but did locate his naturalization record for 4 April 1832, which I’ve attached to this reply. In his naturalization record he clearly spells his surname as “Work.”

    The naturalization record is from the subscription website.

    Also at I found what looks like Richard Work’s last will and testament, dated 25 May 1875. In the will he spells his last name as “Work.” This record is also attached.

    The will for Richard is the first entry at the top of the right-hand page of the will book. You’ll have to enlarge the attachment to read it clearly.

    With Kind Regards,

    Dave Boylan


    John Grenham: Irish Ancestors
    Tithe Applotment Books
    Roger McDonnell's reply to Tim Reed on 4 October 2022
    Ireland Reaching Out: How To Research Historical Irish Church Records


    Friday 7th Oct 2022, 12:39PM
  • Hello

    My Warks came from Behy townland in Kilbarron parish of Donegal.  They came to Canada in the early 1830s.  Richard is a common name but I don’t have an ancestor by that name, so maybe a connection.  I have my dna on  Sometimes, the name was spelled Work but not often.


    Thursday 17th Nov 2022, 12:27AM
  • Thank you Dave Boylan and Grantnd for your replies.   I have to profusely apologize.    I did not keep up checking on replies to questions or statements in this message board and I missed your last comments.   I am continuing my research and I really appreciate your help and guidance.




    Tim Reed


    Thursday 24th Nov 2022, 03:53AM
  • You're welcome Tim, and many thanks for your reply. Best Wishes, Dave


    Friday 25th Nov 2022, 04:14AM

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