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Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors (Paperback)

A Guide for Family Historians

Family History P&S History World History > UK & Ireland > Northern Ireland

By Chris Paton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
ISBN: 9781526780331
Published: 1st April 2023

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Straddling parts of Counties Antrim and Down, the city of Belfast has seen its fair share of history across the centuries. From its humble beginnings as a ford based settlement between two tributaries of the River Lagan, it grew following its grant of a charter in 1613 to become a corporation town, and expanded dramatically when later made a city in 1888. Along the way it has experienced the darkest of times, including the Belfast Blitz and the recent Troubles, to some of the most enlightened developments across Ireland and the UK.

In Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors, genealogist and best-selling author Chris Paton returns home to provide a research gateway for those wishing to trace their ancestors from the Northern Irish capital. With a concise summary of the city's history, a tour of some of the city's most amazing archives, libraries and museums, and a detailed overview of the records generated by those who came before, he expertly steers the reader towards centuries of ancestral exploration, both through online resources and within the city of Belfast itself – and with a wee bit of craic along the way!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In this practical guide to researching ancestors from Northern Ireland's capital city, Chris Paton shares an amazing resource. The book is packed with information, websites and other options that allow folks to research their ancestors.
I appreciated the concise summary of the city's history. It's a fascinating place with an interesting history, and the author shares some of this information here.
I especially like the tips shared throughout the book. And my favorite website is belfastbetweenthewars.com - I don't have ancestors from Belfast but am enjoying reading this blog.
resources.
The author adds humor in places, too. And he uses common words any reader could understand.
I would definitely recommend this book and others by the author.

NetGalley, Jennifer Turner

As featured in

Family Tree

As featured in

Family Tree

Review as featured in

Highlight: 'The specific detail provided, such as for cemetery and burial records, makes this a resource that will be in constant use for anyone researching their roots in Belfast.'

Who Do You Think You Are

This new book from regular Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine contributor Chris Paton directs the researcher to the many different repositories where sources can be accessed and interrogated, including what is available online. He highlights and reiterates the creation or continuation of collections following partition in 1922.

"Paton embarks on his guide to tracing Belfast ancestors with a history of the city, helpfully followed by an introduction to the administrative divisions that served Belfast and the repositories of the city. Once firmly acquainted with the city and its libraries and archives, there are detailed introductions to the records of civil registration; church registers; census returns and substitutes; land records and education; and institutional and occupational records.

"Written in a sometime light-hearted and personal style, the guide is peppered with interesting case studies, many relating to the author's own family, as well as many tips and plenty of smaller, lesser-known sources. The specific detail provided, such as for cemetery and burial records, makes this a resource that will be in constant use for anyone researching their roots in Belfast.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

Part of the popular “Tracing Your...” series from Pen & Sword, genealogist Chris Paton's latest book guides us on a journey to discovering Belfast ancestors. We begin with a tour through the history of Belfast; so important to touch upon, before exploring the many records that are available. Chris's love of – and familiarity with – this fine city shines through, as he explains the administrative boundaries and the three languages which, again, will influence what information is available for our ancestors.

In the 'guardians and gatekeepers' section we take a look at the on-site and online records for Belfast ancestors, including some very interesting museums and libraries readers might not immediately associate with genealogy research. Throughout the book there are dozens of helpful search tips on points that can save you both time and money. The daily life and occupations sections are particularly valuable, really helping to bring to life what it was like in the city in years gone by.

Family Tree Magazine, June 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a great reference book for anyone attempting to research Irish ancestors. If you haven't figured out that Irish research is a brand of it's own, you will quickly, and this book is a great guide to get you started on finding the missing history of your family in Ireland.

NetGalley, Aubrey Kerr

Tracing your Irish Ancestors can be tricky especially if you don't know where to start but this book helps you to get started in searching for your Belfast ancestors.

NetGalley, Carissa Miller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Some of my maternal ancestors hail from Northern Ireland, and although I can conduct basic research on that area of the world, my skill set is woefully inadequate. This author is a fantastic writer. He’s clear, to the point, and engaging.

Paton takes readers and researchers by the hand, beginning with the first chapter, which is a superb condensed history of Belfast from the ancient times until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Then author then reveals how the various peoples of Belfast (Irish, Scottish, and English) were administered throughout time. This was so important to me because as an American, I am utterly unfamiliar with the laws of that region. For someone doing research on foreign-born relatives, this is something that I, and other readers and researchers, definitely need because in order to conduct research, one has to know where to look to find those documents. Chapter 4: Online Repositories was an especially helpful chapter, particularly for those of us who are unable to travel abroad.

What I really appreciate about Paton is the fact that he did not limit his book to research on ancestors in the Church of Ireland, but included resources for research into other Protestants, Roman Catholics, and even Jewish congregations. He included cemeteries found in Belfast, further reading, and numerous website addresses, along with a discussion of companies who specialize in online records (e.g., ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and etc.).

This is the type of book that one needs to keep on hand at all times. Many times, libraries will purchase one copy of a book, which is usually not a problem. But with Paton’s book, the purchase of just one book will likely drive patron’s mad because people will keep checking the same book out over and over again in order to reference it, preventing other people from getting a hold of this book. I recommend that people should buy a copy of this book and keep it in their personal libraries, particularly if they have ancestors from Belfast, and that libraries should get at least TWO copies—one digital and one hard copy—so that patrons will get a chance to reference this book while conducting research.

Paton is a great author and knowledgeable regarding genealogical research in Belfast. He has written several other books, and I cannot wait to read them.

NetGalley, Matal Baker

About Chris Paton

Originally from Carrickfergus on the outskirts of Belfast, genealogist and writer Chris Paton is today based in Ayrshire, Scotland, where he runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service at www.scotlandsgreateststory.co.uk. As well as contributing to many of the UK’s best known family history magazines, he also writes for his own Scottish GENES news blog at www.scottishgenes.blogspot.com, and regularly gives talks to family history societies across the UK and worldwide. His previous Pen and Sword publications include Tracing Your Irish Ancestors Through Land Records, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd edition), Tracing Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records, Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet, and Sharing Your Family History Online.

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