Searching and searching for an ancestor – nothing happening! Well maybe instead of thinking straight, start to think sideways. We all start with the Birth/Baptismal records of ancestors, whom we believe lived, married and died in a particular Kerry location. But all these records let us down – no trace of the missing William Edward O’Connor in 1828 in any of the parishes that we believe he may have lived in. Exhausted the Tithe Applotment records and even tried to see if he had leased land in the 1850s in Griffiths Valuation? Still no sign.
FLAX GROWERS KERRY 1796
This is where you need to think sideways. Start to look in places that you would not expect to find him. For instance I had failed to find any record of a particular person with an unusual l forename (lots of people with the surname) in the Dingle and surrounding parishes. Then I started to check methodically – as I usually advise other people to do – through the Links and Resources on our MyKerryAncestors website. I hit gold when I got as far as the Flax Seed Premium Entitlement List 1796 and there was the name I was looking for. Of course it was not the person I was trying to trace – he would have been living in the area in 1828 not 1796, but now I had a parish in which this family with this forename obviously lived. Knowing Irish naming patterns this was a break through – I could go back and check again in both the Tithes and Griffiths with a particular parish, a great head start.
WILLS & ADMINISTRATIONS 1858 -1922
Another place to exercise this sideways thinking is in the Calender of Wills and Administrations 1858-1920. Now most of our Kerry ancestors were tenant farmers or labourers, had no property or assets and no reason to make a will, so it is some place we would not think of looking at. But maybe there was an Uncle a priest and he left one? Maybe your ancestor worked for a Landlord or Land Owner and if lucky was mentioned in his/her will?
An entry in the Calendars give you: Name, address, occupation and financial effects on death of testator (person who made the will); Name(s) and address(es) of executors/beneficiaries of the will, and relationship, if it exists, to testator;
Full details on How to Search for the calendar of Grants of Probate of Wills and letters of Administration from 1922 – 1982 and these are now also available to download from the online catalogue at the National Archives.