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Reconstructing an 18th-century Ulster Family: the Reas of Magheraknock and Killeen, County Down

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 20, 2004


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by Dr William Roulston

"AS ANYONE KNOWS who has attempted to search for their ancestors, finding out reliable information about them before 1800 is often far from straightforward. The loss of so many records in the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922, coupled with less systematic record-keeping has left a legacy of problems that is not easy to overcome.

Nonetheless there is a large body of information out there that can be utilised by historical and genealogical researchers. Some of these sources are well known, such as the flax-growers’ list of 1796, and the hearth money rolls of the 1660s but many others are not. In particular there is a mass of information contained within collections of estate papers which has not yet been fully exploited. The obvious difficulty with accessing these sources is the lack of a detailed guide to pre-1800 records.

The Ulster Historical Foundation is currently engaged in a project to identify sources from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of use to local and family historians."

This article presents a brief study of the Reas of Magheraknock and Killeen in County Down, a Presbyterian family with roots in Scotland.