Find My Past gives you access to browse, search, and view the 19th and early 20th-century record collections of Royal Irish Constabulary.
This article explains the background of the constabulary records and the kind of detail you’ll find within them.
We’ll also look at some alternative free and commercial sites that have similar access.
Royal Irish Constabulary Records On Find My Past
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.
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.
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).
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 Find My Past.
If you heard that a relative was with the police, then check the Metropolitan if you can’t find him in the Constabulary collection.
What Details Are In The Irish Constabulary Records?
The constabulary records include information about the constable’s wife
This is what you’ll typically see:
- first and last name, age
- place of posting
- service start and end date
- marriage date
- wife’s county
- service number
Once you’ve identified a relative, make a note of the service number. That’s your key into other military records like the pension records.
How To Browse The Royal Irish Constabulary Records On Find My Past
Find My Past has placed this collection under their “Education and Work” category.
To browse the overall contents, start by using the left pane of the Search window.
Switch the overall country to Ireland and expand the “Education & Work” category.
Click on “Occupations”.
In the main window, click on the “Browse record set” link beside the record set input box.
The pop-up window will show a small list of collections.
(If you see a lot more, you’re probably working within the British overall category. You should switch the overall country to Ireland in the left pane).
You can see the three relevant collections in the picture below. I’ll give more detail about each in the next section. For now, let’s focus on searching and filtering for the best results.
Apply one or all three as filters, and you’ll be returned to the main search page.
I find the best method of further filtering is using a surname.
Be judicious about the first name, sometimes initials were used.
And with location, remember that your relative may well have served in a different county than where he was born or died.
Three Collections For The Royal Irish Constabulary On Find My Past
There are three different collections within the archive for the Royal Irish Constabulary.
- Service Records
- History and Directories
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. Apart from the name, the details that will most likely help you identify relatives are:
- age (but not the date of birth)
- native county
Aside from the above, the native county of his wife is present – but unfortunately not her name.
When you identify a relative, take a careful note of the counties in which he served. The newspapers and petty court sessions for those counties are worth perusing for further mention.
You should also take notice of the service number for checking the pension records.
The pension records will show you the rank achieved and the start date for the pension. It will also show a residence address at the district level, which is useful.
If the person died, you will see the full death date.
You will also see records for widows of RIC members. Sometimes the record will be for a child if orphaned.
Royal Irish Constabulary History & Directories
The History & Directories is a list of inspectors, head constables, sergeants, and officers.
You’ll see details of promotions, transfers, and the names of constables who have received testimonials from magistrates.
The underlying documents are PDFs.
Where Did Find My Past Get The Record Collection?
The original records for the Royal Irish Constabulary are held by the National Archives in England.
Don’t confuse this with the National Archives of Ireland, although they have a copy of the records!
Find My Past prepared the transcripts and the search indexes for this online collection.
The search results give you the transcript and either an image of the original document or a PDF.
You should always take a look at the original image, as there will often be details that aren’t included on the transcript. For example, the actual pension sum is on the image but not in the transcript.
Are The Royal Irish Constabulary Records Available Elsewhere?
The source records are available on microfilm at the British National Archives in Kew, England. There are also copies in the Irish National Archives and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
There are two commercial archives that have online search, transcripts, and images.
We’ve covered FindMyPast in this article.
The commercial alternative is Ancestry.com which has also transcribed the collection into a searchable index.
More About Find My Past
We have detailed articles about these other collections of Irish interest:
You can check out our review of the Find My Past newspaper collections.
And if you want more details on the company background, we have an article on who owns Find My Past.