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Ask-the-Pros – Question and Answer – Finding the Immigrant’s Origin

Question:

My Great-Grandfather’s gravemarker has the inscription “A Native of Armagh County.” He was a Protestant immigrant to Canada from Ireland in 1846. Where can I go to find more information about his origins in Ireland?

Answer:

Unfortunately, to make any progress with this type of question, we would need a lot more information about the ancestor. The general rule of looking for the immigrant is to look in the country of arrival or where they lived when they died. Most of the “best sources for determining an immigrant ancestor’s place of origin are usually those made in the country of arrival, not the country of origin. Most immigrants spent much of their adult lives in their new countries, so more records exist for them there. It is usually easier to search country-of-arrival records because it is easier to find out which jurisdictions kept records about the immigrant. You will have more success if you use all available country-of-arrival records.” See “Tracing Immigrants Country of Arrival Records” FamilySearch.org Research Wiki.

It is unclear where the ancestor died. But assuming he died in Canada, the place to start looking is where he was buried. You might want to start with Coming to America:Your Immigrant Ancestors,  in the FamilySearch.org Learning Center. Another article worth studying is “Tracing Immigrants Search Strategies” in the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki. This article has five steps to help find the immigrant’s place of origin:

  1. Identify what you know about the immigrant
  2. Decide what you want to learn
  3. Select the records to search
  4. Find and search the records
  5. Use the information

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