Nearly 700,000 new records are being made available that could be vital for people looking to trace their Irish ancestry.
The Poverty Relief Loans records, from the National Archives in London, have been digitised by family history website Findmypast.com.
The site has also added a new, easier to search version of the Ireland Census 1911.
The Irish Reproductive Loan Fund was a privately funded micro credit scheme set up in 1824 to provide small loans to the ‘industrious poor’ – those most affected by poverty and famine.
This collection of almost 700,000 records, which span the period of the Irish Potato Famine, provides unique insight into the lives of those living in Ireland during one of the darkest periods in its history.
The handwritten ledgers and account books reveal the changing fortunes of Irish ancestors and their subsequent movements in Ireland and across the world. Now anyone can go online and research individuals and families to find out more about where they lived, their financial situation, their social status and more besides.
Brian Donovan, Head of Irish Data and Business Development for Findmypast, said “These incredibly important records provide an exceptional insight into the lives of the poor across the west of Ireland from Sligo down to Cork.
“The people recorded are precisely those who were most likely to suffer the worst of the Famine or be forced to emigrate. These remarkable records allow us to chart what happened to 690,000 people like this from the 1820s to the 1850s, giving a glimpse of their often heart breaking accounts of survival and destitution, misery and starvation. We are very lucky to be able to tell their stories.”
Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives in London said “This collection is one of very few about individual Irish families from 19th century held at Kew. We are grateful to Findmypast for bringing these remarkable testaments to light.”
Exclusive Irish records – digitised for the first time
As well as the Poverty Relief Loans, Findmypast has today added other new Irish record sets, including the Clare Electoral Registers, which reveal early women voters and is only available online at Findmypast, the Ireland Census 1911 and over 800,000 Irish marriages dating back to 1619.
The Ireland Census 1911 is an excellent starting point for anyone researching their Irish ancestors. Findmypast’s powerful search will for the first time allow family historians to search for more than one family member at the same time, helping to narrow down results, and by birth year and by spelling variations of a name – all making it easier than ever to trace Irish ancestors.