Some O'Rourke Records

I finally broke down and paid for a few marriage and death records for my Irish ancestors from Northern Ireland. Here they are, all from the General Records Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) at

First, the marriage record for my great grandparents, John Rourke and Ellen Rogers:

Civil Registration
Registration number: M/1871/U1/2380/3/15
Registration district: Newry & Mourne
Place of marriage: Roman Catholic Chapel of Killowen, Registrar's district of Rostrevor, Kilkeel Union, County Down

Date of marriage: 1st December 1871

Groom: John Rourke, 42, widower, farmer, resident of Ballintur, father: James Rourke, farmer

Bride: Ellen Rodgers, full age, spinster, no occupation, resident of Ballincurry, father: William Rodgers, a laborer

Married in the Roman Catholic Chapel of Killowen ... by me Daniel Mallon, CC.
signed by John Rourk and Ellen Rodgers witnesses: signed by James Magee, and Mary [her mark] Rourke

Note: John's surname is spelled differently on the form and on the signature line, although it looks like the same person's writing for both of them.

I had seen their church record before, but it didn't say that John was a widower when he married my great grandmother. So next I looked for his earlier marriage. This was on the church records as well, but I always thought it was for a different John Rourke:

Civil Registration

Registration number: M/1866/U1/2380/1/28
Registration district: Newry & Mourne
Place of marriage: Roman Catholic Chapel of Rostrevor, Registrar's district of Rostrevor, Kilkeel Union, County Down
Date of marriage: 10th January 1866

Groom name: John Rorke, 38, bachelor, farmer, resident of Killowen, father: James Rorke, farmer

Bride: Catherine Hughs, 25, spinster, housekeeper, resident of Killowen, father: Francis Hughs, farmer

Married in the Roman Catholic Chapel of Rostrevor ... by me, Pat O'Neill, RP

signed by John Rourk and Cath [her mark] Hughs witnesses: Berd [their marks] Kirkpatrick and Sara [their marks] Feran

That marriage in 1866 fits in with the land records. John and his brother Edward split the family plot equally as of 1867, according to the Valuation Revision Books. It makes sense that they would do that on the occasion of a marriage and new household, not just arbitrarily.

Catherine Hughes died young, apparently as a result of childbirth:

Registration number: D/1868/128/1015/1/312
Registration district: Kilkeel(pre-1973 Q4)
Registration sub-district: Rostrevor

September 30, 1868, Ballintur
Deceased name: Catherine Rourke
female, married, age 28, farmer's wife
cause: Uterine Haemorrhage, 2 days. uncertified, no medical attendant
informant: Edward Rourke, Ballintur, present at the death
recorded: October 2, 1868

And there is this record in the Parish Registers with no first name or age. Is it Catherine's burial recorded later, or is it her child's, assuming Catherine died as a result of childbirth:

Kilbroney Parish Registers, Burials
1868, sometime between October 20 and November 11.
Rorke, Killowen
5 pounds, 10 shillings, 6 pence

the date is unclear, but it is after October 20. it may have been October or November. there is no exact date.

I don't know if this next burial record is for John and Catherine's daughter or not. She would have been age 6. It might be for John's mother, Ann "Nancy" Colgan Rourke whose death is on the civil records as June 2. See the civil record that follows.

Kilbroney Parish Register, burials
May 4, 1872
Ann Rorke, Killowen, no age listed

4 pounds, 8 shillings, 9 pence for the funeral.

This death record is one that I didn't expect to find. I was looking for John's daughter Ann, but this woman was age 85 when she died. It is most likely John's mother, Ann "Nancy" Colgan. All the information matches what I know about her. And it might be that the burial listed above, on May 4, 1872, is hers also. Either the priest recorded the burial incorrectly or the Rourkes were late reporting it to the civil authorities. There may have been a requirement to report the date within a few days, so they stretched the truth a bit.

Civil Registration
Registration number: D/1872/128/1015/2/5

Registration district: Kilkeel(pre-1973 Q4) Registration sub-district: Rostrevor

June 2, 1872, Ballintur
Ann Rourk, female, widow, age 85, farmer's widow

cause: debility from old age, uncertified, no medical attendant

informant: John Rourk, Ballintur, present at the death

registered: June 7, 1872

And finally, the three records that I expected to find when I first started looking: the death records for my great grandparents John and Ellen (Rogers) O'Rourke, and their daughter Elizabeth. I didn't find one for Elizabeth's brother John for some reason. I will need to look again.

It was interesting to see that John and Ellen were using the apostrophe "O" when they died. I thought their sons William and James had reclaimed it only when they left for Cleveland.

Kilkeel Registration district, (pre-1973 Q4)
Registration Number: D/1913/128/1015/7/107
John O'Rourke
21st January 1913
male, married, age 85, farmer
cause: senile decay, partial paralysis and exhaustion, no recent medical attendance
informant: John O'Rourke, son, present at death
registered: January 28, 1913
M McCartan, Registrar

Kilkeel Registration district, (pre-1973 Q4) Registration sub-district: Rostrevor Registration Number: D/1918/128/1015/7/348
Ellen O'Rourke
March 13, 1918, Ballintur Killowen
female, widow, age 75, widowed
occupation: widow of a farmer
cause of death: malif...nt tumour of pylorus, 9 months, exhaustion certified
informant: Elizabeth O'Rourke, daughter,of Ballintur Killowen, present at death
registered: March 19, 1918
M McCartan, Registrar

Kilkeel(pre-1973 Q4) Registration number: D/1962/125/1015/17/391
Elizabeth O'Rourke, late of Ballintur Killowen
30th January 1962
age 83, female, spinster
occupation: home duties
cause: (a) carcinoma of liver (b) carcinoma of stomach. Certified
informant: D? F? Rogers, present at death, Mourne Hospital, Kilkeel
Registration: February 9, 1962
Registrar: G Hanna

John sounds like he died with his boots on: partial paralysis and senility, but no recent medical attendance—ignore it and maybe it will go away. I guess you don't live to be 85 by running to doctors all the time.

©Ed Hamilton
September 2, 2016


Credits to the people at the National Library of Ireland for putting the Catholic Parish Registers on line, and to the GRONI for making the civil records so accessible.

Tagged: • Killowen