People of Irish origin face a challenging task when they attempt to trace their early roots. Church records in Ireland such as registers of baptism, marriage, and burial–which are so essential to research elsewhere in the British Isles–are hardly comprehensive. For example, very few Catholic Church registers are extant prior to the mid-18th century. The earliest ones, though incomplete, exist for the town of Wexford from 1671. There are a few Church of Ireland registers but most date from around 1770. The vast majority of Presbyterian churches date from the 1670s. (On the other hand, the Society of Friends [Quakers] has maintained excellent records dating from the mid-17th century.)
Family historians seeking their 17th-century Irish roots are, therefore, faced with using a wide range of alternative source material, both published and manuscript. Much of this is original material in Ireland not accessible to the ordinary researcher, while some of the publications can be located in only a few specialist libraries, such as the National Library of Ireland in Dublin or the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. It is these impediments that David Dobson’s series The People of Ireland, 1600-1699–of which the work at hand is Part Four–attempts to circumvent.
The aim of this series is to provide information on ordinary people throughout 17th-century Ireland–with the exception of people of Scottish origin who have been dealt with in Dr. Dobson’s Scots-Irish Links, 1575-1725 series. Thus, the people listed here are predominantly of native Irish and immigrant English origin, though there are a handful of Huguenot and Dutch immigrants as well. For Part Four, Dr. Dobson provides sketches of about 1,500 additional inhabitants of Ireland, bringing the grand total so far uncovered in the series to just under 5,000.
While Part Four derives from more than a score of sources and repositories, the author has drawn heavily upon the Calendar of Patent Rolls, Ireland and various collections of documents in private hands published by the Historical Manuscript Commission. Dr. Dobson also found quite a bit of fresh information in the records of the High Court of the Admiralty of England, which is housed at the National Archives in London. For each individual, the full name, a place in Ireland, a date, and a source citation are given, and in many cases such supporting data as names of relatives, occupation, religious denomination, and so on, is listed as well.