Researching Irish Clergymen


Roman Catholic

As Roman Catholic priests did not marry, their usefulness for genealogical research is limited, but their relative prominence means that they left records that can lead to other members of their families. Obituaries are relatively common from the latter half of the nineteenth century and the information in their seminary records can lead to a precise place of origin.

Until the 1790s, all Irish Catholic clergy were educated in continental Europe because of the legal restrictions of the Penal Laws. When these were lifted, two seminaries were founded in short order, St. Patrick's in Carlow and St. Patrick's in Maynooth. Some of the records of both have been published in Maynooth students and ordinations index, 1795-1895 (Patrick J. Hamell Birr, Co. Offaly P.J. Hamell 1992 ) and Carlow College 1793-1993 the ordained students and the teaching staff of St. Patrick's College, Carlow (J. McEvoy Carlow St. Patrick's College 1993).

The Irish Catholic Directory was published annually from 1836 and lists priests by diocese and parish. Volumes 1 and 2 are on FindMyPast. Thom's (see Directories) published annual lists of diocesan clergy from 1844.

Church of Ireland

Biographical details of Church of Ireland clergy can be found in the Leslie Biographical Index, a far-reaching compendium originated by the Rev. James Leslie held at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. Additional information is also available in Leslie's Succession lists, chronological accounts arranged by diocese and parish. The succession lists for twenty-one dioceses have been published. The RCBL has these and the remaining dioceses in typescript. Details are in the 'Occupations' checklist.

Church of Ireland Directories ('Irish Church Directory' ) were also published, intermittently but frequently in the first half of the nineteenth century, and annually from 1862. The 1865 and 1865 editions are available on Thom's (see Directories) has full annual lists from 1844. The current edition is online at


The essential work for Methodist clergy is An Alphabetical Arrangement of all the Wesleyan Methodist Preachers and Missionaries (Ministers, Missionaries & Preachers on Trial), etc (Bradford T. Inkersley) originally by William Hill but republished twenty-one times between 1819 and 1927. It covers all clergy in Britain and Ireland, giving locations and year of service. The 1827 and 1862 editions are on

C.H. Crookshank's History of Methodism in Ireland, 1740-1860 (3 Vols, Belfast 1885-8) records brief biographical details of preachers. It is continued in H. Lee Cole's History of Methodism in Ireland, 1860-1960 (Belfast 1961) .

The Methodist Historical Society of Ireland ( has excellent research guides.


Two works cover almost all ministers. The Rev. James McConnell's Fasti of the Irish Presbyterian Church, 1613-1840 (Belfast: 1938) covers the early years of the Synod of Ulster, and John M. Barkly's Fasti of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, 1840-1910 (3 vols., Presbyterian Historical Society, 1986-7) takes things up to 1910. The Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland maintains a very useful database covering six hundred historical and contemporary congregations at Other useful sources include:
  • Ferguson, Rev. S., Brief Biographical Notices of some Irish Covenanting Ministers who laboured during the latter half of the eighteenth century, Londonderry : J. Montgomery, 1897, NLI Ir 285 f 1
  • History of Congregations, NLI Ir 285 h 8
  • Irwin, C.H., A History of Presbyterians in Dublin and the South and West of Ireland, Dublin : Mecredy & Kyle 1890, NLI Ir 285 i 1
  • Latimer, W.T., History of the Irish Presbyterians, Belfast, J. Cleeland, 1902, NLI Ir 285 l 1
  • Marshall, W.F., Ulster Sails West, Baltimore, GPC, 1996, NLI Ir 973 m 59
  • McComb's Presbyterian Almanack, Belfast, W. M'Comb, 1841-1886?, NLI Ir 285 m 1
  • McConnell, J., Fasti of the Irish Presbyterian Church, Belfast, 1938, NLI Ir 285 m 14
  • New Plan for Education in Ireland 1838, (Part 1 pp (27.8) 200-205) (Names of Presbyterian Clergymen and their congregations in Cos Antrim, Armagh, Down, Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Cork, Dublin, King's (Offaly), Louth, Westmeath and Mayo, 1837) NLI
  • Reid, James Seaton, History of the Presbyterian Church, London, 1853, NLI Ir 285 r 1 (online:
  • Smith's Belfast Almanack, 1820 (See counties: Antrim)
  • Stewart, Rev. D., The Seceders in Ireland, With Annals of Their Congregations, Belfast, Presbyterian Historical Society, 1950, NLI Ir 285 s 5
  • Witherow, Thomas, Historical and Literary Memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland 1731-1800, London : W. Mullan, 1880. NLI Ir 285 w 1

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