Find out if your Irish ancestor applied for the Old Age Pension when it was introduced and used a search of the Church of Ireland parish registers to prove their age. For those born before the introduction of civil registration, proving they were old enough for the pension could be difficult. Proof was accepted from entries in parish records and census returns held in the Public Records Office. These searches are of the Church of Ireland registers for births, deaths and marriages and also the 19th century Irish censuses that no longer survive. Containing an astonishing amount of information, you may find out not just your ancestor’s name, date of birth and address but also the names of their parents and other family members.
Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original search forms. The information varies according to what kind of search was carried out – in parish registers or in 19th Century censuses. Sometimes both sources were searched. You can find out the following about your ancestors:
Name of father
Name of mother
Names of other people appearing on the same form
Year of source (event)
Parish of source
County of source
These search forms are mainly to test claims of applicants for the Old Age Pension. Since civil registration was only introduced in Ireland in 1864, those applying for an old age pension in the early years after its introduction in 1909 had to rely on parish records. Since many births, marriages or deaths ended up not being recorded in the parish registers, confirmation of the applicant’s age would then be looked for in the 19th Century censuses.
Since so many Irish records were destroyed in the Public Records Office fire of 1922 these search forms provide an invaluable record of some of those lost records. Searches were generally requested on behalf of the applicant by whoever was certifying their claim, often a local vicar or Justice of the Peace. Many later forms have the address of solicitors or professional genealogists and may have been filled out as part of a probate claim after the named applicant’s death.
The forms were filled out by staff at the Public Records Office as they searched the various sources. You can often see their notes as they found other family members and for this reason the search forms can be a pot of gold if you are researching your Church of Ireland ancestors. Very often the whole family will be listed with dates of birth and the address. Sometimes you will see the letters NF written on the form, even if there are names and dates filled in. This means that the applicant was not found, even if members of their family were.
For the first 10 years the old age pension was set at 5 shillings a week for a single person and 7 for a married couple. It was later raised to 10 shillings. The figure was deliberately kept low to encourage people to save for their retirement but at a time when a labourer’s wage was only 10 shillings a week it was still a useful sum.