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Patrick McElroy born in Cookstown work house

I have been searching for my great grandfather Patrick O'Neill for a while and have found nothing.  He left Ireland for Glasgow. From the records in Glasgow I know he was born around 1870 and his parents were Louis O'Neill and Bridget McIlroy.  I have not been able to find anything on either one of them.  My Ancestry DNA points to around Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.

I recently found a record for Patrick McIlroy who was born in March 14 1870 in the work house in Cookstown, County Tyrone.  The mother is Bridget McIlroy. She is listed as a pauper. There is a chance this may be him.  Are there any records available from the Cookstown work house?  What are the chances of a baby surving the work house and getting out.  I wonder if he would have been adopted.  Does anyone know anything about the Cookstown work house?

Attached is a copy of the birth record.  He is entry number 171.




Tuesday 2nd July 2019, 09:19PM

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Message Board Replies

  • George,

    Here’s a link to a website with some information on Cookstown Workhouse.

    It doesn’t look as though the Cookstown workhouse admission records for 1870 have survived. (They only appear to start in 1899, and they are the records you really need). There are the Board of Guardians minutes (weekly management meetings) for the period you require but they usually only name inmates if something significant had happened to them. However they do give a flavour of life in the area at the time. They are in PRONI in Belfast if you want to read them. They aren’t on-line.

    Though the workhouse was obviously pretty grim people were admitted and discharged all the time. It wasn’t prison and if they could support themselves people often left. Many children were adopted or sent to Australia etc on paupers emigration schemes. The Workhouse infirmary was – prior to the introduction of the NHS in 1948 – pretty well the only free hospital care available in the country, so some people went there for medical treatment rather than because they had nowhere else to stay.

    Formal adoption was only introduced in the UK (including Northern Ireland) in 1927 or thereabouts, so in 1870 any adoption was an informal process arranged by parents, grandparents, the church or various other worthy bodies. No paperwork was necessary and it’s fairly unusual to find any record of such arrangements from that period.


    Tuesday 2nd July 2019, 09:42PM
  • Elwyn,

    Thank you for helping me out with your reply.



    Wednesday 3rd July 2019, 12:16PM