Ancestry.com gives you access to browse, search, and view the 19th and early 20th-century record collections of Royal Irish Constabulary.
Ancestry has two collections that cover the Irish Constabulary. This article gives the background to the records and the kind of details that you’ll see.
I’ll also explain why you should consider using the Find My Past archive if you find your relatives in these Ancestry collections.
Royal Irish Constabulary Records On Ancestry
The Royal Irish Constabulary was the police force in Ireland before the establishment of the Republic. It’s also known as the RIC.
It started as the County Constabulary in 1822. Each of the four provinces (Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster) had a provincial constabulary with a chief constable at the helm.
The constables were men under 40 years of age who could read and write. The force grew to over 12,000 constables by 1850.
During turbulent times in the 19th century, the Constabulary quashed a rebellion by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. This led to their renaming by Queen Victoria as the Royal Irish Constabulary.
When the Republic of Ireland was established, the RIC was disbanded in 1922.
The modern Irish police force is An Garda Siochana. The force in Northern Ireland is the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the RUC).
Are these Catholic or Protestant records?
The constables in the RIC were drawn from both the Catholic and Protestant Religions.
The breakdown was about 75% Catholic although the upper echelons tended to be Protestant.
Other police forces in Ireland
As the capital city, Dublin had its own police force during this time.
This was the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force, which served from 1837 to 1925. These records are also on Ancestry.
If you heard that a relative was with the police, then check the Metropolitan if you can’t find him in the Constabulary collection.
How To Browse The Royal Irish Constabulary Records On Ancestry
You can easily find the collections using the Card Catalog page. Just follow these steps:
- Filter the location to Ireland
- Enter “constabulary” as a keyword
You’ll see two collections. If you want to browse through the records, you’ll probably want to start with the service records on the list i.e. not the Pensions collection.
Searching the collections
You can also use the many search fields.
It’s best to start with just a surname. Sometimes the records only include an initial for the first name.
And with location, remember that your relative may have served in a different county than where he was born or died.
The Collections For The Royal Irish Constabulary On Ancestry
There are two different collections within the archive for the Royal Irish Constabulary.
- Service records
It makes sense to look at each in the order in which I’ve listed them above.
The service record for a constable provides details of their service history.
The Ancestry transcript gives you these details:
- age (not year of birth)
- place of birth (county)
- year of enlistment
- details of the microfilm source
There is no image provided with these records.
I mentioned Find My Past in the introduction. Their transcripts have more details such as the constable’s religion and the native county of his wife.
This may be the key to narrowing down your relatives. I’ll discuss Find My Past in a later section.
The transcript of the pension record gives you these details:
- rank achieved
- commencement date
- place of last service
- where the constable was paid
Don’t forget to check the image, where you’ll see more details from the service page. That includes the sums paid to the constables.
Where Did Ancestry Get The Record Collection?
Ancestry sourced these collections from microfilms held by Family Search.
However, the original records for the Royal Irish Constabulary are held by the National Archives in England.
These are quite old collections. The transcripts omit a lot of useful details that are in the source microfilms.
Find My Past May Be A Better Alternative
The genealogy website Find My Past also prepared its own collection using the National Archives in England.
Their transcripts include more details than are in the Ancestry collection. For example, you’ll get the county of the constable’s spouse. You’ll also get the constable’s religion, which is often enough to rule out your relative.
If you find your relatives on Ancestry.com, I suggest that you take a look for the same records on Find My Past.
You can read more in our detailed tutorial on the Irish Constabulary records on Find My Past.