New Brunswick Ancestors: The New Brunswick Irish Portal

When one thinks of the people who settled New Brunswick, there are three main groups that come to mind: The Acadians, The Loyalists, and the New England Planters. But there\’s a good chance that within your New Brunswick ancestors are another group that tend to be forgotten about: The Irish. Even my own maternal tree, which is 98 percent Acadian, has the odd Irish name in there.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) created a web portal dedicated to the Irish immigrant experience in the province. They have several different categories of records you can look at, most of them containing digitized original records.

Saint John Almshouse Records

This section provides images of admission registers from two collections

  • Saint John City Almshouse fonds , Admittance Registers 1843-1897
  • Graeme Somerville collection, Saint John Alms House Records, 1843 – 1884
The digitized microfilms can be browsed page by page, or you can search. There is also a name index that can be accessed. Before you start, make sure you look at the pdf About the Records
Brennan Funeral Home Records

This section contains transcriptions of the confirmed Irish in Brenan\’s records. If ireland was not mentioned in the entry, they are not included. However, they will be in the main database on the PANB\’s website. There is a 50 year restriction on access to the records. Right now, you can access records from 1901-1971. Records for 1972 will be available after Jan 1 2022. You can search the indexes by

  • Surname of deceased
  • Surname of spouse
  • Surname of mother
  • Surname of father
  • Occupation
  • Cause of death
Even though these are not original images, the indexes do contain a lot of information. Here\’s an example for a Mr. John Robinson, who passed away in 1937

Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books 1847-1856

This section is a database of 295 names of people that emigrated from the Fitzwilliam Estate in County Wicklow. When you click on the database, it automatically sorts by surname. Howver, by clicking on one the headings, you can resort the names however you wish. I clicked on reference number, as this would sort by family groups. In reference 1, I got this family group

As you can see, Pat and Rose Waddock are now included with the Balance family. You now have a possible maiden name for John Balance\’s wife Anty, as well as her mother and brother\’s name. We also have their Townland and Civil Parish in Ireland. Anyone who has tried to research in Ireland knows these are very important pieces of information.
RS555 Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records

This interesting section gives insight into immigration through new Brunswick\’s ports as a whole. Click on the finding aid, and then scroll to the table of contents to access individual documents of interest. These are digitized images. Though the majority is correspondence, there are some other gems. Here\’s a page from the 35 page set of documents called  List of Patients at Emigrants Hospital in Saint John; 1847-1849 (includes name of patient, age, county of birth, date of death or discharge, name of ship, point of sailing, when arrived)

Immigrant Letters

I think this might be my favourite section. In here are digitized letters from and to immigrants here and their family and friends all over the world. Along with the images are transcriptions. They are indexed by subject, place, and by the fonds these letters come from. You can also do a full text search. here is a snippet of a letter from John Jackson of Monaghan, Ireland to Lawrence Hughes of Saint John, New Brunswick
  \”…Sir I received your letter of the 12th of December which gives us a great comfort to hear that you and
your wife and children are all in Good Health. Thank God we are all in the same. Tho this country is somuch afflicted with Disorders, thank God we all got free yet if God was pleased to visit the Old Man and
Michael Armstrong with sickness we had the pleasure of our neighbors about us. Michael Armstrong
died by alcoholic in 2 days illness. A sore leg with age was the Old Man’s complaint. You may let Rosey
know that her sister Catron husband is dead. That is Patt [Conoley]. Indeed she will not be very sorry for
that. Nor neather are we for her and her 4 children is far better wanting him but you may guess my
situation with the Old Woman and Margaret and her 3 children, Catron and her 4 children all depending
on me for to give them [seporte] you may guess yourself how I am ins there is no one I feel for so much
as the Olde Woman for at the Old Man’s death the(y) prompt him up to leave but very little in her
power. She is the one iye think of moste and will do all I can for her….\”


This section runs a close second for being my favourite. It gives a great insight into the attitudes of the day regarding the big influx of immigrants in the province. You can search by subject, or by newspaper. You can also do a full text search. Along with the digital images are transcriptions of the articles. Here\’s an article about the 1847 quarantine of the passengers of the Eliza Liddell in Shippegan, where many generations of my maternal line lived, and still live.

Passenger Lists

This section is the bread and butter part of research into your immigrant ancestor. Even with over 10,000 entries, it is still only a fraction of the immigration numbers into the province. Look at this table they\’ve included of the immigration numbers as a whole

You can search by vessel or by name. Each result give you an extract of the passenger, as well as the image of the passenger list they appeared on. I found ships that sailed from England among the list, as well as Ireland.
Teachers Petition Database

There\’s a good chance there\’s a teacher among your Irish immigrants. This section has images of the petitions, licenses, and/or certificates of these teachers. There are 509 records in the index. It comes up alphabetically by surname, but you can also sort the index in various ways by clicking on the headers. Here\’s part of the 1840 petition for Mr. Daniel O\’Keefe. He taught in Caraquet, Gloucester.

Irish Immigrants in the New Brunswick Census of 1851 and 1861

This last section has extracted those of Irish birth from the 1851 and 1861 Census. If you search by name, you will get extracted information from both Census. If you click on other indexes, you also have the ability to search either Census by

  • County
  • Religion
  • Where from
  • Year Landed
Now keep in mind this information is only as good as what is available. It has been a source of frustration for me for over a decade that the 1851 Census for Gloucester County no longer survives. Anything pre 1861 for me has to rely on parish records.
As a final note, don\’t forget to look at the brief historical overviews in some of the sections. They give you a good basic understanding of the overall history. They are a good read by themselves, so I\’ve included the individual links here:

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