Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Records update

Once again I've added updated the Ulster Covenant page with 23 new records giving a total so far of 326. This update adds all the Richardsons from the Tyrone South constituency. Many more still to come.

What I've seen throughout the compilation of these Covenant records is just how many of these Richardsons live in certain locales, prevalent in neighbouring townlands and settlements. A more in-depth map showing the density per townland of all these Richardsons would really show just how common they are to quite specific areas.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Records update

Back again! I've further updated the Ulster Covenant page with 33 new records giving a total so far of 303. This time the records come from the County Down parliamentary divisions as well as some of those Ulster born Richardsons who signed the Covenant outside of Ulster such as in County Dublin and County Waterford.

There is still the large amount of Richardsons who signed the Covenant in north Armagh and Belfast to add yet as well as others who signed it outside Ulster so stay tuned!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Records update

As it was recently my birthday, the update is quite small this time. I've updated the Ulster Covenant page with 11 more records, all from the North Armagh Parliamentary Divisions, which had somehow managed to evade inclusion in the previous update. All 95 Richardsons from that division are now in the file.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Records update

Just updated the Ulster Covenant page with 114 more records, taking it to a total of 260 records. This focuses on the Richardsons found in the three Armagh Parliamentary Divisions. More to come.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Ulster Covenant 1912

Updated: 15 April 2014
(Links to files are at bottom of page if you want to cut through the waffle)

Irish Home Rule

During the latter years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century the most pressing issue in the politics of the United Kingdom was that of Home Rule for the island of Ireland. Home Rule was favoured predominantly by the Catholic nationalist majority in Ireland, whereas the Protestant unionist minority fearing "Rome Rule" opposed it.

In all there were four Home Rule bills, all with differing aspects.
  • The first bill in 1886 sought to give a form of devolved assembly to Ireland to govern specific areas was defeated in the House of Commons. 
  • The second bill was passed by the Commons but defeated by the House of Lords in 1893. It differed in that it would allow the Irish MPs to still vote at Westminster. 
  • The third bill in 1914 was passed to the statute books however was shelved due to the outbreak of World War I. It would of saw the creation of an Irish House of Commons and a senate. 
  • The fourth and final bill was that of 1920 which created two Home Rule parliaments in Ireland, that of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Whilst Northern Ireland would continue in existence to the present day, Southern Ireland never did due to the Irish War of Independence which saw the creation of the Irish Free State in its place in 1922.

Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant

Opposition to Home Rule by the unionists of Ireland was at its peak in the early 1910s especially in Ulster, led by Dublin barrister, Edward Carson, later The Rt. Hon. The Lord Carson. The Ulster Unionist Council was set up to co-ordinate this opposition. The culmination of this opposition was the signing in 28 September 1912 of the Ulster "Solemn League and Covenant" by 471,432 Ulster folk.

Not all Ulster Protestant's opposed Home Rule however, with a small minority supporting it. There were some rallies in favour of Home Rule held, which culminated with the signing of a pro-Home Rule Covenant in Ballymoney, County Antrim, by 3,000 people.

Key points about the Ulster Covenant:
  • Signatories of the Covenant were restricted to people throughout the British Empire born in Ulster. 
  • 237,368 men signed the Covenant, with 234,046 women signing a female Declaration counterpart. This is unique and ahead of the times in that it gave women a democratic say. The UK voting franchise would not be extended to women until the 1918 General Election. Women would only get full voting equality with men in 1928.
  • The organisation used for signing the Covenant was based on Westminster parliamentary divisions. The parliamentary divisions were then subdivided into electoral divisions.
  • It appears apparent that signing the Covenant was restricted to those of full voting age which at the time was 21. No doubt this was to ensure its legibility and integrity to scrutiny.
  • In 1911 the province of Ulster had a population of 1,581,696 people (the highest of the four provinces). Thus 29.8% of the population signed the document despite the fact the full voting was restricted to over 21s.
  • The membership of the Ulster Volunteers, a unionist militia to block Home Rule and to defend Ulster should it be enacted, was drawn up from signatories of the Covenant. 
  • Whilst the Covenant was signed at sea, in Canada, Australia, Great Britain and throughout the British Empire to those of Ulster blood, the exact number of signatories is uncertain as only the Public Records of Northern Ireland have made the documents in their possession public - the vast majority of which naturally are from Ulster.
  • When the Covenant was signed on the 28th September, not everyone was in their local area to sign it and so quite a few signatories can be found in other areas or parts of the United Kingdom as that is where they where on the day.

Richardsons in the Covenant 

In total there 577 Richardsons recorded at PRONI as having signed the Covenant throughout Ulster.

Whilst these are all easily accessible at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland website, I have taken the time to elaborate on the location given by signatories so that it would be easier to find these people in other records.

The reason for this being a lot of people lived outside towns and villages and gave their townland as their residence. Many people from outside Ireland mistake these for actual settlements and wonder why they can't find them on a map. Townlands are simply a minor unit of land division below that of a civil parish which has been used in Ireland for centuries. Most land grants such as those in the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century were made on the basis of portions made up of townlands. So to help visitors in locating these townlands, I have added the civil parish of the townland and the nearest settlement to it.

I have also created a colour-coded map based on the parliamentary divisions so that the spread of these records can be seen:

Distribution of Richardons who signed the Ulster Covenant
As this map only shows the amount of Richardsons who signed the Ulster Covenant that day in those divisions in Ulster and not those outside Ulster that day who signed it, I will create another map depicting the areas they all came from in Ulster.

Current version

Currently the file has 326 of the 533 recorded Richardsons in the following Excel files. As before there is also a xls version for those who can't open the xlsx version. It is recommended to download the file rather than view it in Mediafire's browser to get the best out of it.

Older versions