Locating Presbyterian Records

Over the years the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has done a tremendous job in acquiring originals or copies of records kept by individual Presbyterian congregations in the province of Ulster. The coverage is so extensive that there are relatively few congregations whose records have not been deposited in some form in PRONI. The majority of these records are available on microfilm, though there are also some original documents, as well as photocopies. The Guide to Church Records maintained by PRONI is the best way to identify what is available.

The Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland has copies of most of the microfilms of Presbyterian registers held by PRONI and can be viewed on a microfilm reader at the Society’s Library in Assembly Buildings, Fisherwick Pl, Belfast BT1 6DW. Presbyterian records can also be found in other repositories, including in some of the county-based archives in the Republic of Ireland. A few pre-1900 Presbyterian registers are still in local custody.

With the advent of the internet, the indexing and digitisation of church records has gathered pace. Many of the centres affiliated to the Irish Family History Foundation have indexed Presbyterian registers for their respective counties and made these available online on a pay-per-view arrangement (www.rootsireland.ie), though coverage is far from complete. Local endeavour has also resulted in many registers being made available online for free.