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Passenger Lists and Other References to Irish Immigrants from Early Wilmington, New Castle County and Delaware Newspapers

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 23, 2007


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by Gary T. Hawbaker

"I first became aware of ships’ passenger lists in the Wilmington newspapers and the value they could have for my genealogical research some fifteen years ago when I obtained a collection of letters written to William McNaught (McKnight in the United States) from his brother-in-law, John Patton, of Ramelton, County Donegal. In my quest to learn more about William McKnight I found further information in the records of the Court House in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the Lancaster County Historical Society. A naturalisation document for William indicated that he had arrived at New Castle, Delaware in August 1791. I asked an acquaintance in Delaware to check to see if there was any information that might document the arrival of a ship at that time. It was not long before I found not only the name of the ship but also a list of passengers who had signed an open letter of thanks to the captain at the end of their voyage and had had it published in the newspaper."

This article examines various American newspapers to find passenger lists, lists of runaways, shipping notices and any other references to Irish immigrants. The papers are eventually found to contain names of several hundred individuals who arrived as emigrants from Ulster in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth.