Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Was one of your ancestors admitted to The King's Inns?

Symbols of the old Empire remain atop the Henrietta Street entrance:
 The Royal Coat of Arms of the UK with its Lion and Unicorn.
Notice the Harp of Erin in the lower left quadrant of the shield.
The King's Inns from the perspective of the green space on Constitution Hill.
Is there an Irish barrister somewhere on your family tree? Was one of your ancestors an attorney or an attorney's apprentice? Was he granted admission to study at The Honorable Society of King's Inns — popularly known as The King's Inns — in Dublin, Ireland? If so, then you may want to take a look at the King’s Inns Admission Papers 1607–1867 which can be found on the Irish Manuscripts Collection [IMC] website.

Founded in 1581, during the reign of Henry VIII, the King's Inns is Ireland's oldest institution for legal education. You can read all about its history on its website here. The admission papers bear a wealth of information of genealogical import about some of the students admitted during the period from the early 17th century through to the mid 19th century.

The memorials — i.e. formal petitions for admission — submitted by those wishing to study at The King's Inns include not only the individual student's name but also his father's name, his father's occupation and place of residence, and usually his mother's maiden name. Each memorial also makes reference to the petitioner's age, with some including his birth date.

The prospective student had to state whether or not he was, or had been, employed in a trade, profession or business of any kind. If he was admitted, then he had to give up other employment, and the details of such employment are included in the memorials of those to whom this applies. Also included in some of the memorials is the name, relationship and profession of the person(s) who submitted an affidavit attesting to the veracity of that particular student's petition.

The type and quality of admissions papers differs depending on whether an applicant was applying for a course of study as a law student, or as a barrister, or as an attorney or an attorney's apprentice. Each of these is explained in the introductory pages of the Admissions Papers manuscript. Also, you will notice there is a 'shorthand' used in the entries. Full details of the abbreviations used in the transcriptions are included in the introductory pages.

Here are an example of the kind of transcription with abbreviations you will find in the manuscript:

FITZPATRICK, Peter, 3rd s. of Peter, Dublin, attorney, decd., and Margaret Meehan; over 16; ed. Dublin; afft. James, attorney, brother. T 1833.

Here are the details fully written out:

Peter Fitzpatrick is the third born son of Peter Fitzpatrick [Sr.] of Dublin and his wife Margaret Meehan. Peter Fitzpatrick [Sr.] was an attorney and is deceased. 

The petitioner Peter Fitzpatrick is over the age of 16 years and was educated in Dublin. An affidavit in support of his petition has been submitted by his brother James who is an attorney. Peter was granted admission to study in the Trinity term of 1833.

(H = Hilary Term: January to March; T = Trinity Term: April to June, also sometimes recorded as E = Easter Term: from the Easter holiday to the end of June; M = Michaelmas Term: Sept to Christmas)

In May of 2012 I first mentioned the IMC website as a good online repository for a number of sources you may have overlooked. Since then the commission has been hard at work digitizing and posting online many more sources which you may find useful in your search for information about your ancestors and relatives. Be sure to revisit my Tuesday's Tips post from 2012 for more information about other manuscripts of genealogical import which are available via the IMC website.

Happy Researching!

The inner courtyard of the building.
The approach to the King's Inns entrance down the cobbled roadway of Henrietta Street.


  1. Jennifer,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/11/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-november-21.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Jana, thanks for the mention! It's very much appreciated.



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