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We have recently discovered we have family from Hillsborough, Down.   We believe that James Harper was born abt 1835, he was appointed to the Royal Irish Constabularly in 1857.  He went to South Africa to join the Cape Mounted Police in 1858.  He returned to Ireland and married Margaret Carlisle in October 1864 in Hillsborough,  John  Harper was recorded as the groom's father.  In 1865 the couple sailed to New Zealand.

When  we looked at Griffiths Valuations we found a John Harper and a James Harper in the Townland of Taughblane in 1863 and we wonder if this is our family.  

We would be very grateful for any more information about this family.  Is there a census or other information about the Harper family?

Thank you for any help you can give us with our research.




Sunday 30th April 2017, 07:56AM

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  • Jane,

    James Harper’s service records in the RIC may give you a little more information about him. I can see him listed on Ancestry’s RIC records with a place of birth as Co. Down but the actual record might have a little more information including details of who recruited him and where.

    To find his birth you would need to know his denomination. If he came from Hillsborough and was Church of Ireland (ie Episcopalian) then the local records go back to 1688.  There was a Moravian church there with records from 1845, Annahilt Presbyterian has records from1780, Hillsborough Presbyterian from 1833. The RC church has no records before 1875. Copies of these records can be found in PRONI (the public record office) in Belfast. A personal visit is required to view them.

    There are no censuses pre 1901. Unfortunately, save for some fragments, most earlier censuses were destroyed.

    What does the 1864 marriage certificate give for James’ townland (address)? Also what was his father’s occupation? Both will help establish whether he may be connected to the Taughblane family.

    Looking at the Valuation revision records, which take Griffiths information forward, up to 1929, I see James Harper on plot 39 in Taughblane. That was a house, outbuildings and 8 acres, so a small farm. It remained in his name till 1876 when he was replaced by Robert Stanfield. Next door on plot 40, a house & garden, ie a labourer’s cottage, was John Harper whose name remains against the property till 1870 at which time the “house” is deleted, indicating it had collapsed or been demolished.

    Griffiths clerks were sometimes a year or two out in recording changes but if James had emigrated in 1869 you wouldn’t expect to find his name against the property in 1876, unless he had sublet (which did happen).

    This is the only Harper family I can find in the Hillsborough are in the 1901 census. They were Church of Ireland.

    Probate of the Will of Richard Harper late of Drumatihugh, Co. Down, Farmer, who died 10 March 1921 granted at Belfast 23 May 1921 to George Harper, Drumatihugh, Farmer and Joseph Lockhart, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Solicitor. Effects: £325 0s 0d

    I see 2 John Harper deaths in the Lisburn registration area (which includes Hillsborough) in the period 1864 – 1901. One died in 1865 aged 57, the other 1879 aged 45. You can view the original certificates on-line on the GRONI website, using the “search registrations” option:

    You will need to open an account and buy some credits. It costs £2.50 (sterling) to a view a certificate.

    You’ll find a few Harpers in Hillsborough on this Co Down site:



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 30th April 2017, 11:27AM