Thursday, 11 October 2012

Londonderry's Great Parchment Book progress

I'm just off the phone from Derry City Council's Heritage and Museum Service ( archivist Bernadette Walsh, with some brilliant news on work being carried out there in partnership with London Metropolitan Archives.

A major project is currently underway in Derry to conserve a document from 1639 known as the Great Parchment Book. Held at London Metropolitan Archives, this document was created by The Honourable the Irish Society under the authority of Charles I in the immediate aftermath of the Ulster Plantations, and is effectively a survey of all the estates managed by the London based society. Seriously damaged by fire in 1786, work is now underway to try to restore it in time for the 400th anniversary of the building of Derry’s walls in 2013. I've previously reported in this blog ( that a dedicated blog for the Great Parchment Book project is online at, which describes some of the extraordinary challenges the team has faced in bring the document back to life. Within the book is a snapshot of the very first years of the Ulster Plantations settlement in Derry and Coleraine, some two years before the major rebellion against it in 1641.

The good news is that once the conservation work is finished - and that is almost complete - the work is being digitised and indexed with a view to the material being placed online for free. The first batch is expected to go online by late this year or early next year, with the whole project hoped for upload by the end of 2013.

For those fortunate enough to get back that far, bear in mind also Trinity College Dublin’s hugely impressive 1641 Dispositions project at This mainly provides statements gathered in five collections between 1641 and 1654 from Protestant settlers who witnessed the 1641 uprisings, or who had property damaged, though it also includes testimony from some Roman Catholic witnesses. The scope is much further, with statements recorded across all four provinces in Ireland, providing another unique snapshot into the life of those settlers living in Ireland just a generation after the Plantations started in the early 17th century.

NB: Keep an eye out for more great Irish web based resources in my forthcoming book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet! :)

(With thanks to Bernadette)


Scottish Research Online - 5 weeks online Pharos course, £45.99, taught by Chris Paton from 26 SEP 2012 - see
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

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