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Hello! My 2nd great-grandmother, Christiana Foster McDonald (1827-1909), was born in Newry, County Down to Richard Foster (c1798-1858) and Nancy Beatty (c1798-1833). I found her older brothers, William Foster (13 Mar 1823-1904) and Isaac Foster (8 Mar 1825-1902) in Ancestry’s “Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911” database, but did not find Christiana or their parents’ marriage record. Her birthdate is 28 Oct 1827 in Newry.

The family immigrated to the US in 1828 via Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then on to Montreal, Canada through Quebec. They lived in Pennsylvania, close to Pittsburgh. It is documented that Christiana and her family were Covenanters and devout in their faith.

Recently, I found a listing of the old churches in Newry and wondered which one, if any, my 2nd great-grandmother and her brothers may have been baptized in? Parents married in? I have looked for further information on the family in Newry, but sadly I haven’t found much.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Much thanks in advance! :)



Monday 23rd Oct 2023, 02:16AM

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  • The formal name for Covenanters is Reformed Presbyterians.  They are a separate denomination from the main Presbyterian church in Ireland and from the Non Subscribing Presbyterian church (often known as Unitarians).

    There is or was a Covenanter church in Riverside, Newry but unfortunately they do not appear to have any records for the 1800s.

    The first Covenanter Minister in Ireland was the Rev William Martin who was ordained in 1757. From then till around 1800 there were only a handful of Covenanter churches and many of the first few Ministers either died or left for America, so it was the 1800s before it really became properly established, and started to keep records. Few Covenanter churches in Ireland have any records before about 1840.

    I’d be inclined to search the Presbyterian and Non Subscribing Presbyterian church records for Newry to see if your family is in them.  Most probably they are not on-line and you would need to go to PRONI  in Belfast to look them up. This link explains what records exist, parish by parish:

    If you are unable to go yourself, you could employ a researcher. Researchers in the PRONI area:



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 27th Oct 2023, 05:48AM

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