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The early years
1845 was the first year in which marriages (other than Roman Catholic marriages) w ere registered and a total of 6114 marriages were registered in the last nine months of that year. The majority of these (4118) were according to the rites of the Established Church, 1586 were in Presbyterian Meeting Houses and 348 marriages were before Registrars of Marriages.
1864 was the first year for the registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (including Roman Catholic Marriages) and the totals for that year were as follows, BIRTHS 136,643 DEATHS 94,095 MARRIAGES 27,373
The total number of Births represented a ratio, for the year 1864, of 1 in every 42.44, or 2.36 per cent of the population by the Census in 1861 (5,798,967); and the Deaths afford a ratio of 1 in every 61.64 or 1.62 per cent. The entire number of Marriages registered gives a ratio of 1 in every 212, or .47 per cent of the population in 1861, - the number of Roman Catholic marriages (26 and 27 Vic., cap. 90) affording a ratio of only one marriage to every 238 of Roman Catholics in 1861; - and the number of Protestant marriages (7 and 8 Vic., cap. 81), a ratio of one in every 152 of the Protestants in 1861.
The number of births represents a rate of 13.4 per 1,000 of the population per annum (Estimated Population 1994, 3,570,700); and a fall of 0.5 for the year 1993. In 1994 the Total Period Fertility rate (which represents the projected number of children a woman could have if she experienced current age-specific fertility rates while progressing from age 15 to 49 years) was 1.85 and this is below the population replacement level of 2.1.
The number of deaths represents a death rate of 8.6 per 1,000 of population, 0.3 below the rate for 1993. Diseases of the Circulatory System accounted for 14,002 deaths and was by far the commonest cause of deaths in both men and women. The number of marriages represented an annual rate of 4.6 per 1,000 population an increase of 0.2 on the rate for 1993.
The details contained in the entry above relate to the death of Andrew Campbell of Ballintra on 1st January 1864 in the district of Laghy in County Donegal . The deceased was aged "about 64 years".
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William Malachy Burke
Registrar-General 1844 - 1876.
William Donnelly, C.B., (Companion of the Order of the Bath - 13 June 1857). Born 14th April 1805 in Armagh , the fourth son of John Donnelly, esq., a gentleman/merchant of Blackwater Town, Co. Armagh , and Rebecca, sister of Sir William Young, barrister, Co. Cavan. Probably educated at Dungannon. Entered Trinity College in October 1820, aged 16. B.A. Trinity College , Dublin , Spring 1825; Admitted to the Gray's Inn , England during the Easter Term, 12 May 1830 ; M.A. November 1832; LL.B. and LL.D. Spring 1846. Admitted to the King's Inns, Dublin , during the Michaelmas Term, 25 May 1853 . Married Louisa Frances, second daughter of Andrew Crawford, esq. in ........... and lived in Auburn House, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Appointed Registrar-General for Ireland on 4 November 1844 , at a salary of £800 per annum, and held this post until his retirement in 1876. Was Chief Census Commissioner in Ireland in 1851 and 1861, and also a Commissioner of the Census in 1871. Was Superintendent of the Agricultural and Emigration Statistics from 1851 until 1876. Was a member of the Sackville Street Club, Dublin . Died at home on 25 October 1879 , aged 74 years.
His son, William Young Donnelly, also worked in the General Register Office for a period and c. 1877 became the Secretary to the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland .
Registrar General 1876-1879
William Malachy Burke. Born 4 August 1819 in Ballyduggan, near Loughrea, Co. Galway , the third son of William Malachy Burke (1784-1853) a barrister, and Anna Maria, only daughter of John Blake of Neirfield. Belonged to one of the 'old' Galway families. He received his medical education at St. George's Hospital , London . In 1842, he "passed" at the London College of Surgeons (M.R.C.S.). On 19 June 1847 , he became a Licenciate (L.K.Q.C.P.) in Ireland , and on 19 October 1863 , a Fellow of the King's and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland . He was subsequently elected a physician to Steevens Hospital , Dublin , and he was also Physician in Ordinary to His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ,1866-8 and 1874-6. He was a member of the Pathology Society and the Geological Society, Dublin , and of the British Medical Association. He was a Fellow of the British Meteoroligal Society. He was a Visiting Physician to Steevens Hospital , Dublin , and was a Consultant Physician at the National Eye and Ear Infirmery, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin . He was Medical Superintendent in the General Register Office, Dublin , 1864-76. Succeeded Mr. Donnelly as Registrar General for Ireland 1876-79, during which period he effected important improvements in the system of registration in Ireland . He married Harriet, only daughter of the Rev. Hugh Hamilton, of Benmore, Co. Fermanagh.
He died childless on 13 August 1879 , aged 70 years, from pleuro-pneumonia, at his residence at 88 St. Stephen's Green, South, and was interred in Mount Jerome Cemetery . Mr. Burke was considered to be "a very amiable man and was much liked in the large social circle in which he moved."
Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw
Registrar-General 1 September 1879 - 1900
Dr. Thomas W. Grimshaw C.B. Born at Whitehouse, Co. Antrim, (near Belfast ) on 16 November, 1839 .
His great-grandfather migrated from Lancashire to Co. Antrim, settled at Greencastle, and founded the calico-printing industry in Ireland . He was one of the (if not the) first cotton spinners by machinery in Ireland .
Dr. Grimshaw's father, Wrigley Grimshaw married his cousin Alicia Grimshaw. Wrigley Grimshaw was an eminent dentist and was Dental Surgeon to Steevans' and St. Mark's Hospital's, Dublin , and Pitt Street Institution for Diseases of Children, Dublin . He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland , and for many years resided at 13 Molesworth Street , Dublin 2. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was the only son of the marriage.
Dr. Grimshaw received his early training at Bryce's Academy, Newry, in Carrickfergus School , the Academic Institute, Harcourt Street , Dublin , and the School of Dr. M. Hare in St. Stephen's Green. He entered Trinity College , Dublin in 1858 aged 18 years and he graduated in Arts in Dublin 1860, proceeding to the M.B. and M. Chir, degrees in 1861, L.R.C.S.I. 1862; L.M. 1863; L.R.C.P.I. 1867; M.D. in 1867, and M.A. in 1874. He was a diplomate in State Medicine of Trinity College, Dublin and a Fellow of the College of Physicians (1869), of which in 1867, he became a Licentiate. In 1862 he obtained the diploma of the College of Surgeons . His technical education was conducted in the School of Physic , and in Steevan's and Sir Patrick Dun's Hospitals. He won a moderatorship in Experimental and Natural Science, and various honours in chemistry, botany, etc., in Trinity College , Dublin . Dr. Grimshaw was a Physician to Cork Street Lying - in Hospital and the Dublin Orthopaedic Hospital . He was for several years a Physician to Steevan's Hospital, and held in succession the Lectureships on Botany, Materia Medica, and Medicine in the school formerly attached to that hospital.
He was a member of the Irish Prisons Dietary Commission, 1880 and also a member of the Royal Barracks ( Dublin ) Sanitation Committee, 1887. On retirement from practise he became Honorary Consulting Physician to both Steevan's and Cork Street Hospitals .
In 1879, the Duke of Marlborough appointed Dr. Grimshaw as Registrar General for Ireland . Dr. Grimshaw effected considerable improvements in the Reports issued from his Office.
The frequent epidemics in Dublin of enteric fever early engaged his attention, and he delivered a series of lectures on the best means of preventing them, suggesting sanitary improvements, many of which were carried out, especially the clearing of congested areas in the city. He was one of the honorary secretaries of the Duchess of Marlborough's relief committees for the administration of the fund which was raised by Her Grace to relieve the distress that prevailed in 1879 - 80 along the Western seaboard of Ireland .
Dr. Grimshaw was one of the founders of the Dublin Sanitary Association and of the Artisans' Dwellings Company Limited. The slums cleared by the Corporation were utilised by the Company as sites for artisans dwellings built according to the best sanitary models. The success of these dwellings was attested by the low death-rate and an immunity from epidemic disease as compared with the rest of Dublin City . Dr. Grimshaw designed health charts indicating the locality of every epidemic, and he carried out the same idea for the Government in dictating the poverty-stricken districts which were under the administration of the Congested Districts Board.
He published numerous papers and pamplets on Fevers, Zymotic Diseases, and various other medical and sanitary subjects, official Reports on Births, Marriages and Deaths, agricultural emigration, banking, Criminal and Judicial Statistics, and on the Irish Census, 1881.
He was the author of "Facts and Figures about Ireland ", and a joint author of the Manual of Public Health for Ireland ". In conjunction with Dr. J. W. Moore, he published a paper regarded to be "remarkable", on a zymotic form of pneumonia, which they termed "pythogenic pneumonia".
He was the President of the Statistical Society of Ireland 1888 - 1890. He was honoured with the C.B. (companion of the Order of the Bath ) on 22 June 1897 , and in the same year he was elected as President of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland .
He was married in 1865 to Sarah Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev T.F. Thomas of Newport , Isle of Wight , and had issue nine sons and three daughters.
Dr. Grimshaw died at his residence at Priorsland, Carrickmines, Dublin , on 23 January 1900 , aged 61 years.
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The Right Honourable Sir Robert Edwin Matheson
Registrar-General 1900 - 1909.
Sir Robert Matheson, P.C., Ireland (1910), Knight (1907). Born in Co. Dublin on 6 May 1945 . Elder son of Robert N. Matheson, esq., Clerk of the Privy Council for Ireland, and Victorine, daughter of Jeas Phillipe Jossevel, of Moudon, Switzerland, Juge de Paix; Married on 30 January 1866 to Cherrie Maria Hardy, elder daughter of Freeman B. Hardy, esq., of Belfast. Educated at Rathmines, Dublin . Appointed Clerk in the Office of the Registrar of Marriages after a competitive examination held in 1863. Entered Trinity College , Dublin in June 1873, aged 28 years. Studied law at the King's Inns, Dublin , and Middle Temple , London . Called to the Irish Bar in 1875. Appointed as Secretary to the General Register Office, 1877; Assistant Registrar General, 1879. Commissioner of Irish Census in 1881, 1891 and 1901. Registrar General for Ireland 1900-9. Honorary L.L.D. of the Royal University of Ireland (1901). President of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland 1904-5. Examiner in Vital Statistics and Public Health Law in the University of Dublin 1901-9. Author of various works on Irish names, legal, statistical and other scientific treatises. In recognition of his public services he received the honour of Knighthood on 9 November 1907 , and on his retirement from the post of Registrar-General in 1909, was appointed a member of H.M. Privy Council in Ireland .
Resided at 25 Crostwaite Park West, Kingstown (Dunlaoghaire), Dublin , and then at 44 Belgrave Square, Monkstown, Co. Dublin .
Sir William John Thompson
Registrar-General 1909 - 1926
Sir William Thompson, Knight (1907). Born in Co. Tyrone in 1861 to William Thompson, a farmer. Married in 1891 to Mary Louisa Wilson (who died 1910), daughter of James Wilson, Monaghan. Educated at Enniskillen. Entered Trinity College in June 1889, aged 28. Also educated at Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin; L.R.C.S.L., L.R.C.P.I. 1888; B.A., Dublin University 1893; M.B., 1894; M.D., 1895; F.R.C.P.I. 1902.
Registrar General for Ireland from 1 December 1909 to 1926. Chairman of Census Commission 1911. Physician-in-Ordinary to the Marquess of Aberdeen, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ; also Physician, Jervis Street Hospital . Consulting Physician, Royal National Hospital for Consumption, Ireland . Member of the Medical Consultative Board, Royal Navy. Examiner in Medicine, Royal Navy Medical Service. Censor in Medicine, Royal College of Physicians , Ireland . Fellow and Member of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland . Member of the Council and Honourary Treasurer Irish Medical Association. President, Statistical Society , Ireland . President and Member of Council, Leinster Branch, British Medical Association. Chairman of Census Commission 1911. Medical Visitor in Lunacy under High Court of Chancery. Vice President of the Society for Study of Inebriety. Author of several medical and statistical papers.
Resided at 59 Fitzwilliam Square North , Dublin , (tel. 2075) and Charlemont House, Dublin .
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries several clergymen were willing, for a fee, to marry couples in secret. The demand for the services of these "couple-beggars" could come from a desire to avoid objections from families, to circumvent legal restrictions on inter-church marriages, or simply to avoid the expense and delay associated with a public wedding.
A group of eleven Dublin clergymen kept registers of the irregular marriages they performed, recording roughly 40,000 marriages between 1799 and 1844.
One of these was J.G.F. Schulze, minister of the Lutheran Church in Poolbeg Street who died in Feb. 1839. While licensed to act only in his own congregation he is known to have married couples of all sects, recording over 6,000 marriages between 1806 and 1837. His church in Poolbeg Street is gone, but two of his registers still exist, "amongst which appear the names of many of the first families in the land. Scarce a day seems to have elapsed during the entire period, without a marriage, and on one day ... (was)... counted no less than sixteen. Well might the reverend gentleman boast of "Nulla dies sine linea." The entry of each marriage contains merely the date and the Christian and Surnames of the contracting parties, and these are not even original signatures. There are no witnesses to the ceremony, and no residence or description given of the parties, neither are these registers authenticated in any part of them by the signature of the clergyman. Many of the simplest names are misspelt, and ... (it was observed) .... some entries totally effaced." The two registrars are held by the General Register Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Dublin .
The "Schulze Registers" are the only surviving record of clandestine marriages in Ireland . The registers of the other "couple-beggars" were taken into the custody of the Public Record Office and subsequently destroyed during the civil war fighting which took place at the Four Courts in 1922.