Digging in Church Records

I have had a difficult time tracing my maternal Irish ancestry back more than about 150 years and feeling confident that I was closely approaching having all of the information that would help propel me further. Census records provided snapshots of the family unit at points in time but my information was too vague for my liking.

My great great grandfather, Lewis Fitzgerald and his family are a good case in point. The following AHNENTAFEL list shows my ancestral connection to Lewis and his wife Ellen Daley.

1. Ian Gerald Hadden

2. Lewis John Hadden
3. Anne Margaret O’Neill

6. John Graham O’Neill
7. Gertrude Ellen Foley

14. John Foley
15. Mary Jane Fitzgerald

30. Lewis Fitzgerald
31. Ellen Daley

I was aware that Lewis and Ellen Fitzgerald had nine children, including my great grandmother Mary Jane Fitzgerald, but most of the children were born “about” a given year in my database. This is where the “Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records” on FamilySearch.org have been of great assistance.

These records are not indexed but are available in image form. Fortunately, the record group is divided by city or town in Ontario and then by church name. Beyond that help, I needed to examine each page of each church register looking for the members of the Fitzgerald family. It was tedious and, it was time-consuming but it was worth the effort. Register pages containing records involving my Fitzgerald ancestors were saved easily as JPEG files on my computer with a simple single mouse click using the helpful ‘Save’ feature.
Above is the register entry for the marriage of Lewis (spelled Luis in the registry) Fitzgerald and Ellen Daley (spelled Daly in the registry). The marriage took place on September 11, 1856 at St. Paul’s Basilica which is located on Power Street in Toronto, Ontario. The priest who officiated at the marriage and signed the register was Father J. FitzHenry and the witnesses to the marriage were William McDonald and Briget (spelling is as it appears in the registry) Sexton. I don’t know who these witnesses were but assuming that they were close friends of my great grandparents, I now have a clue for further research. Most interesting to me was the appearance in any record about Ellen Daley that I have found of a location in Ireland for further research. Typically, census records would list her birthplace as Ireland but this church record states that she was from County Clare. Wishful thinking has me wanting to believe that there was only one Daley family in County Clare but how likely is that to be true?

In my next post, the Fitzgerald ‘kids.’

One thought on “Digging in Church Records

  1. Wow, Ian …you are an “Awesome Archaeologist”. I think God is on your side and He allowed you to discover some more of your roots from the church records. Keep on digging…..


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