No sulks, no sniffles

I made some major changes to the site last week and nobody noticed. In case you think I’m over in the corner having a sulk and a sniffle, let me explain what the changes were and why it’s understandable nobody noticed.

They’re all double surname searches, like the long-standing Griffith’s double surname map search. That shows, for example, parishes in Griffith’s recording both Doocey and Colbert households. This had its origins back in the Jurassic era of Irish research. Under certain circumstances, you might have a documented connection between two Irish families, but no place of origin in Ireland. So you combed through the old Index of Surnames, which showed parishes where in Griffith’s households of a particular surname were located and how many, and extracted all parishes with both surnames. It was a well-honed, mind-numbing way of creating some clues to the place of origin.

Allosaurus genealogicus, c. 1982

So when I created an online version of the Griffith’s householder search, an obvious next step was to recreate the double surname technique.

Fast forward several years and similar mapped searches for the other major Irish sources became possible: nineteenth-century civil birth records, Catholic baptisms and the 1901/1911 censuses. It then took another four years for the penny to drop: I could also do double-surname searches for these. So last week, that’s what I did.

The reason nobody noticed is that, like the Griffith’s double search, you can only do one after you’ve already done a single search. So first Doocey, then Colbert+Doocey, for each of the four sources: nineteenth-century civil birth records, Catholic baptisms and the 1901/1911 censuses.  Things buried so deep are hard to publicise.

So it’s not that I’m hiding my light under a bushel. No fear. No, it’s just … complicated.

A few caveats: like the Griffith’s double, they all exclude variant spellings. The coding was complicated enough, like standing on your head to scratch your ear, without adding variants.  The equivalent of standing on your head, scratching your ear and juggling a dozen eggs.

Also, unlike the Griffith’s, I haven’t managed to get the composite totals onto a single map. Go figure.

And, of course, they’re only useful in very particular circumstances if the surnames aren’t that common. Don’t go sticking in Murphy and Kelly, please.

15 thoughts on “No sulks, no sniffles”

  1. Boy, do I relate to sulking when no one notices. Thanks for that lovely bit of vulnerability, Mr. Grenham, sir. As to the mind- numbing work of juggling while standing on your head and scratching your ear, I am endlessly grateful for efforts of that nature on your part, as I’m sure we all are. The double name feature is one I’ve used probably more than any other, with heavy reliance on the accompanying map, and I’m eager to try it for the other document categories you have so laboriously entered data for. I thank you for the caveat related to variant spellings. After breaking my head all summer (I’m a teacher and escaping Zoom prep at this very minute) about the Hennessey (and variation) and McNerney (and maybe one variation, without the final e) in mid-19th cent. west Clare, and narrowing in on two or three likely townlands that are close enough to be possible, with some first name analysis thrown in, and presenting what I’d gleaned to a variety of cousins – only then did I hear that maybe the family name was actually McInerney (or variant), even though it was always spelled McNerney, that is except in one marriage record, but then the priest in Montreal could have been recording what he thought someone said, but then another branch of the family said it was actually supposed to be McInerney. McNerney in west Clare is doable. McInerney in west Clare might as well be Murphy or Kelly. So as school craziness closes in I’m taking a break from cousins and second thoughts about what our name is anyway. Thanks, as always, for the combination of hard work that helps break down walls with the chuckles that make this all bearable.

  2. thank you, John. This is an excellent resource and your efforts are appreciated.
    I was searching with a similar strategy but you’ve made it a bit easier.

  3. Thanks so very much for your incomparable website, your insight, your precision and your fortitude. A gift to all Irish researchers!

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