One question I’m asked as a genealogist is about passengers lists leaving Ulster in the 1700s. Usually, the reference is for Scots-Irish research. The simple answer is they don’t exist! The more complex answer is some do if you think creatively. This doesn’t mean your ancestors were listed, but you do have a few resources when you normally would ignore the topic.
One source is the “letters of thanks” published in Ulster newspapers. Between 1737 and 1772 the major newspaper was the Belfast Newsletter which published notices regarding ships from ports throughout Ulster. During the 1700s the passengers on a ship customarily signed a “letter of thanks” to the ship’s captain for a good trip. This was basically free advertising for the captain.
John C. Greene’s Belfast Newsletter Index, 1737-1800 is online at the University of Louisiana Lafayette website: www.ucs.louisiana.edu/bnl/ This database indexes every significant word and date in the 20,000 surviving pages. There are some limitations. For example, only one-quarter of the newspaper survived from 1737-1750. Yet it is nearly complete from 1750-1800. The database contains 300,000 items of news and advertisements.
The same type of emigration material may be found in the Londonderry Journal,which began publication in 1772. This material and other items dating 1772 to 1784 were abstracted in Donald M. Schlegel’s Irish Genealogical Abstracts From the Londonderry Journal, 1772-1784 (Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield Company, 1990). This book is now a database: www.ancestry.com
My rule of thumb is to not expect to find a published passenger’s list from the 1700s, but when you do consider yourself very fortunate. This can open up many previously closed avenues for reconstructing your family history.
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