Genealogy news updates

I’ve been working on something big – and very tricky. Chipping away at a big brick wall, and I’ll be back to report when I’ve got something more useful to say.

So in the meantime, here are some interesting developments in the genealogy world – specifically, to do with Irish and Australian genealogy.


If you’ve ever looked at Irish genealogy, you’ll know that it’s famous for being hard work. This is, to a large extent, because census records before 1901 were destroyed – deliberately by government order for the years 1861-91, and in the notorious fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin in 1922 for the 1821-51 records.

But some fragments of the four earliest censuses survived. And they are now available to search, free, online.

Part-demolished brick wall, via

Bashing that brick wall (CC, via

When they are described as ‘fragments’, that’s really what they are, so though they’re worth checking, the chances are that they may not solve your Irish genealogy puzzles.

I didn’t find any clues to my Nicholas Delaney or his family, or to the elusive Julia Harrington, formerly Russell, nee Cannell or Gamin (thanks, Julia, you knew how to make it easy for your 3x great-granddaughter). But you might get better results.

The online release of these records was made possible through a partnership between findmypast, the National Archives of Ireland, and Appropriately, you can now find them at the National Archives’ website and at Both free.

Good luck with your search! You can find out more about the census fragments at the Irish Times‘s Irish Ancestors census page.


I’ve recently filled in my ancestors’ details at two exciting new convict websites, the revived Claim A Convict and the new Australian Female Convict Database.

At Claim A Convict I added Nicholas Delaney, Sarah Marshall, her (common law?) husband John Simpson, and James Thomas Richards. And I also added Sarah to the Australian Female Convict Database. She’s my only woman convict, as far as I know.

If you’ve got convict ancestors, I recommend these sites very highly. Go and check whether  your convict is listed, and if they aren’t – why not add them?

Convict woman and man, Australia, 1792 by Juan Ravenet

Convict pair (via Wikimedia)

Both sites are young and developing all the time. Jonathan Auld of Claim A Convict has just announced that a new feature has been added – the opportunity to add a biography to your convict’s record.

There’s a 4,000 character limit, which is much more generous than the previous 200-character research notes allowed.

I also love the fact that both websites have extra resources to help us find out about our naughtier ancestors.

A big thank you to Jonathan and Michelle from Claim A Convict (and of course to the late Lesley Uebel, who began it all and was such an inspiration to many).

And another big thank you to Kim and Kristy of the Australian Female Convict Database. As they say: ‘Australian Female Convicts are under-represented as a group in historical collections.  The aim of this database is to provide future researchers with a simple collection of evidence, fully referenced, and collated into a consistent format for free download.’

And who wouldn’t like that?

Are there any gaps in convict research you’d like to see filled?


 © Frances Owen and A Rebel Hand, 2010-2014

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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