Walter Basquill and Mary McHugh

Castlebar Marriage Register
Castlebar | Microfilm 04214 / 03 page 79

“[20 Feb 1871] Walter Basquill to Mary M Hugh
P[resent] Michael Basquill & Mary Cannon J.R.”

I was telling my mom about some of the information packed into these Irish Catholic parish registers. It doesn’t look like much, but you have the date, the who, the witnesses (including Walter’s father, Michael), the initials of the priest who married them, and over in the right margin the amount they paid to be married.

And then every so often you will find a notation that everything was settled up to date, meaning that all fees had been collected. So these registers functioned as part of the parish bookkeeping system, as well as a record of who was baptized and married.

If you go through them page by page, instead of relying on the indexes, you will also find that each priest would make entries for his own records, then settle up, and then the next priest would have his turn with the register to enter his information. The handwriting varies section by section, as well as (sometimes) the geographical area covered. So the J. R. who married Walter and Mary will likely be identifiable, if I look more closely at this volume of the marriage register.

I mention all of this because it seems like a goldmine to me, after the dearth of records available for pre-civil registration Ireland (1864). Yet someone in one of my genealogy groups took a look at the registers and declared that they were useless, because they’re just a bunch of names and dates. Wellokaythen.

(This is Walter’s marriage to his first wife, by the way. I can’t find an entry in the parish registers for his second marriage, the one to my great-great grandmother Bridget Bourke. That was after civil registration began, though, so there should be a marriage certificate available.)

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