Cover Image: Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors

Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors

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Member Reviews

In this practical guide to researching ancestors from Northern Ireland's capital city, Chris Paton shares an amazing resource. The book is packed with information, websites and other options that allow folks to research their ancestors.
I appreciated the concise summary of the city's history. It's a fascinating place with an interesting history, and the author shares some of this information here.
I especially like the tips shared throughout the book. And my favorite website is - I don't have ancestors from Belfast but am enjoying reading this blog.
The author adds humor in places, too. And he uses common words any reader could understand.
I would definitely recommend this book and others by the author.

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I have the digital copy but the physical copy is now on my list. This is a great reference book for anyone attempting to research Irish ancestors. If you haven't figured out that Irish research is a brand of it's own, you will quickly, and this book is a great guide to get you started on finding the missing history of your family in Ireland.

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Tracing your Irish Ancestors can be tricky especially if you don't know where to start but this book helps you to get started in searching for your Belfast ancestors.

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I received an ARC of “Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians” by Chris Paton from NetGalley and Pen & Sword Books Ltd. in exchange for an honest review. I specifically ‘wished’ for this book. While rural African American communities during the 19th Century is my professional research focus, I conduct a lot of family history in my free time. Paton’s book therefore is a gold mine for me.

Some of my maternal ancestors hail from Northern Ireland, and although I can conduct basic research on that area of the world, my skill set is woefully inadequate. This author is a fantastic writer. He’s clear, to the point, and engaging.

Paton takes readers and researchers by the hand, beginning with the first chapter, which is a superb condensed history of Belfast from the ancient times until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Then author then reveals how the various peoples of Belfast (Irish, Scottish, and English) were administered throughout time. This was so important to me because as an American, I am utterly unfamiliar with the laws of that region. For someone doing research on foreign-born relatives, this is something that I, and other readers and researchers, definitely need because in order to conduct research, one has to know where to look to find those documents. Chapter 4: Online Repositories was an especially helpful chapter, particularly for those of us who are unable to travel abroad.

What I really appreciate about Paton is the fact that he did not limit his book to research on ancestors in the Church of Ireland, but included resources for research into other Protestants, Roman Catholics, and even Jewish congregations. He included cemeteries found in Belfast, further reading, and numerous website addresses, along with a discussion of companies who specialize in online records (e.g.,,, and etc.).

This is the type of book that one needs to keep on hand at all times. Many times, libraries will purchase one copy of a book, which is usually not a problem. But with Paton’s book, the purchase of just one book will likely drive patron’s mad because people will keep checking the same book out over and over again in order to reference it, preventing other people from getting a hold of this book. I recommend that people should buy a copy of this book and keep it in their personal libraries, particularly if they have ancestors from Belfast, and that libraries should get at least TWO copies—one digital and one hard copy—so that patrons will get a chance to reference this book while conducting research.

Paton is a great author and knowledgable regarding genealogical research in Belfast. He has written several other books, and I cannot wait to read them.

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