Overview and tips

Robert E. Matheson
Overview and tips

Matheson’s Varieties and Synonymes of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland is an extremely useful resource for those engaged in researching their ancestors in Ireland.

It provides an extensive list of spelling variations and alternative names under which an individual may have been registered in the birth, marriage and death records.

It is well worth reading the introductory material in the book to appreciate the difficulties with which the registrars were faced and to fully understand the extent of the potential confusion.

Language differences and illiteracy were but two of the sources of irregularity.

However, if you wish to get straight to a name search then the best approach is to go first to the Index to Alphabetical List of Surnames. This contains a list of all the main names and their alternative forms.

The hyperlinked numbers in the Index will take you to the appropriate entries in the Alphabetical list of Surnames where you will find the main names followed by their associated alternatives.

To understand the relevance of brackets, square brackets, and italics employed with some of these names, read Memorandum explanatory of Alphabetical List.

The hyperlinked numbers that appear against some names in the Alphabetical List of Surnames will further direct you to the Key to Reference numbers in Alphabetical List. This identifies the district and union in which the name has been recorded — perhaps another useful clue in the hunt for Irish ancestors.