29 April 2010


   Hello from the National Genealogy Conference in Salt Lake City! I am learning a ton about Irish genealogy sources and will share in this blog in the coming weeks what I am learning here.  But I could not wait to blog about one OUTRAGEOUS source for Irish family historians that I learned about this afternoon at a workshop by David Rencher: the OUTRAGE PAPERS. These papers were compilations of  local offenses and crimes committed by the "unruly" Irish natives. The reports were collected and then sent daily to the Chief Secretary of Ireland. Not only did the papers help the British government to keep an eye on crime, but, more importantly for the British rulers, the reports helped them to identify potential uprisings or areas of political agitation.
   The good news for Irish family historians is that these papers covered the whole of Ireland and have survived the misfortunes that other Irish records have suffered. Timewise, they cover the first half of the 1800's.
   Now, don't put your nose in the air and claim your ancestors could never have been named in a criminal report! Don't forget that many of the "crimes" of that period were often considered acts of Irish patriotism by the native Irish. Other "crimes" were offenses commited by desperate poor and hungry persons. Some of the "crimes" reported in the Outrage Papers were quite peculiar, such as a woman eloping with a servant! Others include stealing sheep, assaulting a "better," or attacking the "big house." Prison riots were noted, as were the common murders, assaults, and thefts.
   These papers are fulll of details about the offenses. Names and locations and dates are included, along with the townlands of the perpetrators and the victims. So, you might discover that your family tree includes a victim of a crime, as well as a "perp."
   Currently, a trip to Dublin or London is required to view these papers, which are kept by the Archives of Ireland and of Britain.