Help with finding birth record

+4 votes

I'm struggling to find a birth record or an emigration record for (my GGF) William John Carson.

He was apparently born in Ireland. He married Mary-Ann Clarkson in Lyttelton New Zealand in 1863 and died there in 1903.

Useful hints:

*Death record states had been in NZ 40 years i.e. c1863. He married in June that year.

*Father was a clergyman (death printout).

*Occupation earlier in life is mariner (marriage printout) and later carpenter (death printout).

Death printout and marriage printout are attached to his profile.

My attempt to find his birth family in Ireland led me to an Alexander and Jane Carson, but I am not at all sure I am on the right track. For example, his DOB would be c1834 if he died in his 70th year, but the one I've found is 1832.

Some experienced eyes on this profile would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Kathy
WikiTree profile: John Carson
in Genealogy Help by Kathy Viney G2G5 (5.1k points)
hello,i had little search,and my heritage is showing a, william  ckarkson 11/3/1805 london,,married sarah anne nicholson 12/9/1813 london,,,,daughter mary ann clarkson ,married w.j carson.....mary ann had sister elizabeth-jane clarkson,,,sarah ann,,,amelia,,,susannah,,,thomas nicholson clarkson,,george william,,,john alfred,,,frederick charles,,,james henry,,,and william clarkson about 1914,,,  i also came across another,,which showed there was martha wilkins,born jones?,,, benjamin clarkson,,,also eliz-jane whose married name was scott      was sarah ann born 16/9/1846 wellington,,died abt 1889  and perhaps husband william john carson/s parents were alexandercarson/jane?  regards h fox.
Thank you for looking. We have uncovered much of the Clarkson family, and that includes the folks you've listed above. What I'm keen to do is press into William John Carson's ancestry and make a confident leap from his NZ story, which I know something of, to his origins in Ireland and his family further back. Cheers, Kathy

2 Answers

+1 vote

If your DOB is correct then this might be him

Name: William John Carson
Gender: Male
Baptism Date: 7 Oct 1832
Baptism Place: Ballymoney Parish, Antrim, Ireland
Father: Alexander Carson
Mother: Jane
FHL Film Number: 908674
by Richard Devlin G2G6 Pilot (355k points)
He may have sailed from Belfast

Hi Kathy:

I know you've asked this question before, and this record keeps popping up. There is indeed a Rev. Alexander Carson - however, he lived at Tobermore in County Londonderry (see this as index to various newspaper stories on his family), while Ballymoney is in County Antrim about 21 miles straight-line distance to the north).

Thanks, Richard. That's the link I found, too. It's possibly the only link, but I'm not sure I have the right connection. A birth certificate would make all the difference to me, but I am not sure where or how to find one. Cheers, Kathy
Thanks, and you are right, I have asked before. I'd love to link William to Alexander and Jane via a birth certificate, and also William's father to this Rev Alexander Carson. Do you think I am expecting too much from the available records?

I have not dug into this very deep, but you may find something at Space:Sources-Ireland-Province-County 

The first one I would try is the church and civil records at Irish You may also get lucky and find him in one of the partial pre-1901 Census.

I would also try to find the ship that he was on and where it departed from. Also the NZ Naturalization papers may give the birth location 


Thank you I started to look into this further ... then Easter and family happened! I'll keep following through those sources.
+2 votes

Kia ora Kathy, finding Irish immigrants to New Zealand is hard! Here's some things I have found have worked for pushing back my lines a generation or two from NZ to Ireland:

  • Religion is important in tracing Irish records. If he was buried by an Anglican minister in NZ you should be looking for Church of Ireland records in Ireland (good news is that this narrows the field - although I wouldn't rule out him being another Protestant variant).
  • Death certificates aren't always that accurate, especially for immigrants, so his age could be out by a few years.
  • You won't find a birth certificate as they (and death certs) didn't start in Ireland until 1864.
  • You might find his parents' death certs.
  • Marriage certificates in Ireland for Protestants start in 1845, so there is a good chance you'll find possible siblings by searching here: This site is AMAZING as you can see the original certificates for free for most years (and order them at modest cost from PRONI if only the index is available).
  • He may have come from Belfast but it was a fast-growing place in the 19th century, so his origins may be elsewhere in Ulster.
There are church records online in different places which may have his baptism but they tend to be expensive to search, so I'd try to narrow the field down with some wide searching of the civil registers first.
by Suzanne Doig G2G6 Mach 3 (30.6k points)

I had a further search online and it seems unlikely that William was a son of the well-known Baptist Minister Alexander Carson of Tobermore - see this thesis which suggests his children were much older, and went into the professions: page 25

I agree that he was most likely not the son of Rev Alexander (though Rev A intrigues me!), though he did have a son William (c1799-4 Jan 1851). 

I did wonder if William could be the grandson of Rev Alexander i.e. the son of Robert H Carson. That would be better date-wise, but I have no evidence for that ... yet.

If there is a relationship here, I think it's possible William took off to NZ - perhaps he was a black sheep? However, it's all conjecture at this point!

Sorry, I commented on your second post first! Re your first post: I will work through your suggestions and see what I can find - if nothing else I'll learn how to navigate some Irish records! Thank you so much!
No problem - yes he could chronologically be a grandson of Alexander. The thesis I linked to had a bit more information about the careers of Alexander's sons; I can't recall if any of them were based more in the Belfast area.

The value of searching for marriages of siblings is that you may find a Carson of similar age whose father is also described as a clergyman. It can be quite time-consuming for common surnames though...

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