Wicklow Case Study: The Shorts of Killoughter, County Wicklow

The previous articles have described the various genealogical sources available for County Wicklow.  This case study of a Wicklow family will demonstrate how to use these sources.

Bernard Short of Killoughter

Our starting point is Bernard Short, who according to family knowledge, was born to Daniel Short in Killoughter before 1900.  He died in Dublin in the 1950s.  The first step was to check the 1911 Census for Bernard.


1911 Census

As you can see below, Bernard is listed on the 1911 Census for Killoughter, aged 26 years, along with his parents Daniel and Jane Short and his siblings Anastasia, Elizabeth, Robert, Eugene and John.

1911 census return for the Shorts of Killoughter, County Wicklow

You will note the couple state they had nine children in total and all were living at the time of the census.  This possibly gives an indication of the family’s standard of living, as sadly it was very common in those days for children to die in infancy.  We also learn approximate years of birth for each person listed, as well as occupation.  Indeed, it is intersting to note that Bernard and his sister Elizabeth were described respectively as “asylum attendant” and “asylum nurse”.

1901 Census

Jumping back ten years to the 1901 Census, we find all nine of Daniel and Jane’s children present, ranging in age from the eldest Anastasia aged 20 years, to the youngest John aged four years.  It is interesting to note that Daniel’s stated age of 56 years does not tally with his age of 72 years listed on his 1911 census return!  Please refer to the article on the 1901 & 1911 Census for a possible explanation!

1901 census return for the Shorts of Killoughter

Searching the civil records and parish records

Armed with the information we gained from the census, we can now search either the civil records of births, deaths and marriages or the parish records of baptisms and marriages for the previous generations of Shorts.  As described in the article, Vital Records: Births, Deaths & Marriages the website www.familysearch.org provides a free index of the births, deaths and marriages held at the General Registers Office.  Indeed, many entries on this site provide more than just the indexed information.

The fee-based website www.findmypast.ie also provides Irish vital records.  Regarding parish records, the articles on County Wicklow Parish Records outlines the availablility of parish records for research, including details of the fee-based website www.rootsireland.ie.

Before searching for the marriage of Daniel and Jane Short, which will hopefully provide their fathers’ names and thus a foothold into the previous generation, we must identify Jane’s maiden name.

Option A: Civil Records

Beginning with the civil records, a search of the free index of births on www.familysearch.org was conducted by entering the surname Short and under the “parents” tab, entering Daniel and Jane.  This kind of search is not always fruitful on this site, but on this occasion, we are lucky that more information than just the index information was entered for this family.  As you can see below, the birth records of two of Daniel and Jane’s children were listed, providing Jane’s maiden name of Magee.  (Full birth certificates can be obtained from the General Registers Office).

Results of search for Daniel and Jane Short on www.familysearch.org


One of the reasons this search was quite effective on this site is because the Short surname is relatively unusual, making it easier to identify the correct family.

Marriage records on this site are a little more limited in that the index only usually provides the name of the bride and groom separately.  The Shorts 1911 census return states that Daniel and Jane were married in approximately 1882, but it is a good idea to allow a couple of years margin of error.  Therefore, a search of this site for the years 1875 to 1885 produces an index entry for the marriage of a Daniel Short in Rathdrum registration district in 1879 (see below).  Again, the name Daniel Short is relatively unusual, and the district is correct, so we can be fairly confident we have the correct entry in the index.

Results of search for marriage of Daniel Short on www.familysearch.org

To support our findings, a search of the index for the marriage of a Jane Magee produces the same results.  (If you click on the name in the index, you can see the volume and page number where it is listed on the index book in the General Registers Office and these numbers should match for the bride and groom).

Marriage index entry on familysearch.org providing volume and page number


These state registered marriage records are easier to search on the fee-based website www.findmypast.ie as both bride and groom are provided in the search results.

Option B: Parish Records

Looking at the option of searching the parish records instead, if using the fee-based site www.rootsireland.ie, a search of the County Wicklow baptism records entering the parents’ names of Daniel and Jane Short will produce the baptism records of the nine children born to this couple, and each record can then be viewed:

Results of search on www.rootsireland.ie for baptisms of the children of Daniel and Jane Short

Searching the marriage records on www.rootsireland.ie produces the 1879 entry in church register, providing almost the same information as the civil record version of the marriage.  (Sometimes, the Roman Catholic parish register lists both parents of the bride and groom, so it can be worthwhile to check this version of the record when possible).  We learn that Daniel was the son of Brian and lived in Killoughter at the time of his marriage, while Jane was the daughter of Robert and lived in nearby Carrigower.  (It is interesting to see that Daniel and Jane followed the naming traditions of the time where the eldest boys were named after their grandfathers).

Church marriage record of Daniel Short and Jane McGee, 1879

Previous generation

This marriage record provides a foothold into the previous generation of Shorts.  As Daniel married in 1879, his birth occurred before 1864 when civil registration began in Ireland, so we must search the parish records for his baptism record.  Returning to the rootsireland site, see below details of the baptism of Daniel Short in 1838, the son of Brian and Anastasia Short nee Cullen:

Baptism of Dan Short, 1838


Bear in mind that the records on this site are transcribed as they appear in the parish register.  As you can see in the above baptism, Daniel appears as “Dan”, his father Brian as “Brien” and his mother Anastasia as “Anastatia”.  To give yourself the best chance of a result, search for as many variants of a Christian name as possible by using the wildcard search symbol “%”.  For example, instead of entering Daniel in the search box, enter Dan% which will bring up the variants Daniel, Dan, Danny, etc.  Instead of entering Brian, enter Br%, etc.

Brian Short and Anastasia Cullen married in Wicklow Parish in 1832.  Unfortunately, these earlier marriage records do not provide fathers’ names for the bride and groom.  We can assume Brian was born circa 1800.  A search for his baptism record produced a strong possibility:

Baptism of Brian Short, 1807

So how do we verify if the above is the correct baptism record for Brian Short, father of Daniel Short?  We can cross-reference with the civil death records (if Brian died after 1864) or we can search for a tombstone for Brian.  (See the article Tombstone Inscriptions: Main Sources for Wicklow Headstones).  Indeed, we are fortunate to have the inscriptions of several Short tombstones at Killoughter Cemetery, including that of Brian Short, and his wife Anastasia:

Short tombstone inscription, Killoughter Cemetery

The tombstone states Brian was born circa 1809.  If we check his civil death record on familysearch.org his year of birth is given as 1808.  Both of these sources suggest the baptism found for Brian in 1807 is correct:

Index entry of death record of Brian Short, 1867


Descendants of the Short family are so fortunate to have these tombstone inscriptions as they provide evidence of several family lines, including some individuals who pre-date the parish registers of baptisms and marriages.

Other 19th century sources

Hopefully, this case study demonstrates how the researcher can use the above records to establish a family line.  The next case study (to follow soon) will show how to use 19th century sources such as Griffith’s Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Books to learn more about your ancestors.

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Comments about this page

  • This was really interesting. Daniel Short was my great great grandfather and I was curious to see if I could find information about him as my name is Daniel, which is not common in my family. Didn’t have his parents on my family tree so that’s exciting. Also was interesting to see other descendants comment like Emily (interesting that she is a Dunne too, I was going to say no relation but I guess we are through the Short family.) I’ve also noticed the passing down of first names in the family too. I always thought it was unusual that my Great Aunt was named Anastasia, but it was clearly a common family name.

    By Daniel Dunne (05/03/2020)
  • Finally discovered my Short family came from Wicklow and then I found this page, excellent read. I’m descended from Bryan Short’s[1807-1867] older brother James.

    By Bryan Millar (07/08/2019)
  • Dear  Catherine,

    I am now getting a chance to again read your research and have added interest as I am now studying for an Arts Hon Degree and am covering Irish history, I came across your research again and feel so privileged.

    Thanking you Emily  

    By Emily Dunne nee Shortt (16/04/2016)
  • Hello Emily & Mary,

    I was delighted to see that descendants of this family enjoyed the article – it was a very interesting family to research!

    Kind regards,

    Catherine Wright


    By Catherine Wright (10/03/2015)
  • My brother Mervyn passed this over to me as this is our granfather. I’ve passed it on to all my cousins too. We used to go to Wicklow as children all the time with our dad, another Daniel Shortt. Dad always said the first names carry the family tree as well as the last And I can see lots of our aunts and uncles names throughout the years.  I was called after my Mother.Emily Dunne

    By Emily Shortt Dunne (01/03/2015)
  • Amazing read, Thats my ancestors. Ive seen the grave sites and heard the stories but to read it thats brilliant. Thank you. 

    By mary shortt (26/02/2015)
  • Catherine, this is a really useful article thanks.

    By Deirdre (13/03/2014)

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