From the information found on 1841 shipping records, I learned that my John Oakman was from Glenavy, Ireland. Once I had learned this, my research was directed to Northern Ireland, and in particular the Parish of Glenavy.
At first I thought it would be easy to track down John’s family, given that I knew the Parish he was from. I was soon to realise it was not going to be a simple search!
I have learned that Northern Ireland consists of six Counties — Fermanagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Down, and Armagh. Each of these Counties is divided into Civil Parishes, and each Civil Parish is then divided into Townlands. Glenavy Parish lies within the County of Antrim and consists of no less than 17 Townlands. Any thoughts I had entertained of easily finding John’s parish church suddenly became much more complex. Add to this the fact that my John was a Roman Catholic, and Catholic church records for the time my John was born and married no longer exist, and you soon see why I haven’t been able to locate his family.
What are available though are Tithe Applotment records, Griffith Valuations, a few cemetery records, microfilm copies of the major newspaper of the time (“Belfast Newsletter”), and the church records of Glenavy’s Church of Ireland (St Aidan’s) parish church.
For anyone interested in learning more about life in Glenavy Parish, I highly recommend GlenavyHistory.com — a new website which is growing daily as more and more local stories, historical data, photographs and memories of local residents are being added.
It is from these and other sources that I have pieced together the information about Oakman families in Northern Ireland. Despite there being only a few remaining records, I’ve still been able to build a reasonable picture of the major Oakman families of Glenavy Parish.