AGI Member Tony Hennessy Recommends Jailbird Ancestors

On June 27th, AGI member Tony Hennessy kicked off the Association’s contribution to the National Archives of Ireland’s Evening Lecture Series with a well attended, splendid talk on records that might land your ancestors in gaol, titled ‘My ancestor was sent to jail – Hooray!

First he looked in detail at the records of Ireland’s most minor courts, the Petty Sessions, held at the National Archives. He gave an over view of the history of the courts, their jurisdiction and records, detailing what one might find in the  Petty Session Register Books.

Not only are they an interesting commentary on social history, but they are also packed full with snippets of family history, linking fathers to sons, wives to husbands etc.

Their biggest advantage is that they are generally complete, whereas for all other court records in Ireland, only fragments remain due to the destruction of 1922.

Following the Petty Sessions, Tony looked at the extant prison registers, also held by the National Archives. These can provide really startling personal detail about individuals, their age, home address,  next-of-kin, place of origin, occupation etc.

Both the Petty Session and Prison records have been scanned and indexed by  Findmypast. In addition, the Prison registers are available free on FamilySearch.