Category Archives: Thursday Tips and Tricks

In which we share genealogy research techniques or review products.

The Story of the She Wedding

I found this report published in the London St. James Chronicle on March 30, 1765.

(I’ve updated to modern spelling for you, but kept the adorably old-fashioned capitalization)

For the St. James Chronicle. Story taken from a Pamphlet in the Harleian Miscellany, entitled The She-Wedding, &c.

In the Year 1684, a Girl at Deptford proving with Child by a Sailor, when he went to Sea applied to his Mother, averring that she was his Wife, which the old Woman did not choose to believe unless the Certificate was produced. In this Dilemma the Girl consulted with a female Neighbour, of a masculine Make, between whom it was agreed that a Sham-Marriage should take place, which was solemnized at St. George’s Church in Southwark, and the Clerk being bribed, antedated the Certificate six Months, which making the supposed Mother-in-Law easy, the Wench received all the Favour such an Alliance entitled her to. But, O Grief of Griefs! the two families being overheard calling each other by the Names of Husband and Wife, it created Suspicion, and upon Examination the Cheat appearing plain, the Parson complained to the Civil Magistrate, and they were both committed to Gaol.

The moral of this story (at least for genealogists): don’t trust a single source document as proof of anything. Always seek out other sources to verify a fact, as there have been lots of reasons, over the years, for people to want to falsify documents.

Free Irish Newspapers You Can Search Online

Old Timey Newspaper

Newspapers are one of my favourite resources to search. Not only are they fun and interesting to read, but they provide a sense of the lives and concerns of their particular place and time that is unavailable in census reports and birth records. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and start reading a fascinating story about town politics or who won what at the county fair. They’re an excellent source of birth, death, and marriage announcements (especially useful if the civil registration records don’t exist or are unavailable) and you can discover some surprising information about your family (like I did when researching my ancestor Josiah Spriggs). You can also use them to learn about how world event effected the people in the community where your ancestors lived.

Newspapers are definitely worth your research time. Here is a brief list to get you started.

Richard Heaton’s Index to Digititalised [sic] British and Irish Newspapers Online Beta One of the wonderful things about the genealogy community is that its members are always creating content to help each other. Richard Heaton has created this index of digitized newspapers of the British Isles and Ireland. Not all the newspapers listed are free and some that are require membership to a library in the UK, but it’s an excellent place to start your search.

The Belfast Newsletter is available as an index, another example of genealogists helping genealogists.

An archive of Trinity News in Dublin from 1953 to 1970 has been digitized from the bound volumes of a private collection. The website also has a link to the newspaper (still in production) which has its own archive going back to 2008.

Villanova University Library has a searchable collection of historical Irish periodicals, mostly from the 19th and 20th century.

Eddie’s Extracts is yet another example of a genealogist’s hard work made available to us all, providing indexes and transcriptions of many different types of notices in local newspapers of Northern Ireland. Nick Redden is another genealogist whose newspaper extracts are worth a look.

Ireland Old News contains transcripts from, you guessed it, old Irish newspapers. It covers most counties, but its coverage varies greatly. However, they add new transcripts often, so it may be work bookmarking and checking periodically.

Not an Irish newspaper but it may be of use, The Boston Pilot ran a “Missing Friends” column from 1831 to 1921 in which Irish people could could post messages searching for lost friends and relatives who had emigrated to America. The collection is hosted and made searchable through Boston College.


If you’ve run through these free options and found yourself less than blessed of Irish luck, and you’ve decided to open your purse a little, a good option is the Irish News Archive. It provides access to over 40 papers from around Ireland covering 300 years of publishing. Costs run from €10 for 24 hour access to €350 for a full year. If you have a good idea of what you’re looking for (names, keywords, dates, location, etc.) or would be willing to binge search the archive for a few hours, you may find the results worth the cost of a 24 hour subscription.

What are your favourite resources for searching Irish periodicals?