The importance of original records

… or Why not to trust an index!

Last few days I’ve been gathering some general information on the Hegarty records in Londonderry hoping to find clues as to Jane Hegarty’s family.

There was a  witness listed at Jane’s marriage in 1841 in St Columb’s by the name of Daniel Hegarty, so I was excited to come across a burial record for Daniel Hegarty in 1863 – could this possibly be her brother or a father? The burial record could potentially give more information on his residence, and I could also follow-up with newspaper searches looking for a death announcement.

An index entry from for Burial for Daniel Hegarty, 1863

I was quite surprised when I opened the actual image – after Daniel’s name were listed two sets of names – Charles Hegarty, Mary Bradley, John Hegarty and Jane Bradley. This didn’t look like a death record!

The original image of indexed record

The page had all the right column headings, but instead of age and late residence, there were names of what seemed to be relatives. These looked more like a bunch of baptism records.

Full page of the original image of the record indexed as “Burial”

I started flicking back and forth through the other pages in the collection, and on the previous page you can see the priest scribbling over the headings and writing “Names of parents” and “Sponsors” Looks like he had run out of pages in the book for baptisms, and decided to use the Registry of Deaths instead.

Headings on the previous page

Unfortunately, neither Ancestry, not FindMyPast seem to have noticed that when they indexed the records, so there is a whole bunch of baptisms in St Columb’s, Derry, currently indexed as ‘Burials’.

I will be revisiting those pages manually when I get a chance – hopefully I’ll get a clearer picture on the Hegarty families in Derry. And I’ll be looking into the Bradley surname that keeps popping up in relation to this line (Jane’s son Richard McManus married Catherine Bradley, whose parents I suspect may also be from Derry, but doubt they would be (closely) related for the two of them to marry. Maybe family friends or neighbours?)



3 thoughts on “The importance of original records

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