NORTHERN IRELAND RESEARCH PROJECT
By Sue Lattea Cox, Vice President of Research --- firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Curulla and the late Alex Latta of Branch 16, were instrumental in starting the Northern Ireland research project. Alex traveled to Ireland many times researching the Latta name in the counties where Latta families were found in the 1700s. There was a lot of information and correspondence between Virginia, Alex and many other individuals to determine which areas of Ireland should be researched. Virginia collected information on Irish history and there were lots of maps to look over.
Much of the information which a person might think would be available to us in Ireland had been destroyed. The disastrous 1922 fire in the Ireland Public Record Office destroyed census records dating from 1821-1851, and pre-1858 Wills, along with the Church of Ireland parish records. From 1600 to the political partition of Ireland, the Church of Ireland was the official religion. Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland occurred in 1869. All parish records were supposed to be sent to Dublin for safekeeping. The only exceptions were if parishes could prove that they had secure facilities. Most parishes complied, and these records were destroyed in the shelling of the Four Courts Building at the outbreak of the Irish Civil War. The Irish census records for 1861-1891 were ordered destroyed by the government prior to 1922 for confidentiality purposes. Thus, many of the records which we wanted to research dealing with the 1700s time frame have most likely been destroyed.
Successful research for Irish ancestors depends in a large part on access to parish and townland records. If your Irish ancestors came to America, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, you might find information on which parish or townland they came from by looking at naturalization records, tombstone inscriptions, military records, newspaper obituaries, passenger arrival lists, deed, Bible records, and wills or probate records. Most will find a reference to "Ireland" only in some of these records, but you may run across something which states the parish....i.e. a tombstone which says that the deceased was born in "Castle 3rd" (Castlethird, Ireland).
If you can't find any information in your search, you might widen your investigation to any neighbors of your Latta ancestors. The Irish tended to migrate in groups and cluster together by village to the country of immigration. Investigate the Irish neighbors, the man who witnessed a will or deed. While researching the Latta family, we have run across the names Rankin, Allison, and Boyd intermingled with the Latta family in Ireland and in Pennsylvania. The names Torrence, Knox, Scarlett, and Crabtree are intermingled with the Latta family in North Carolina.
If you know the name of the townland that your ancestors came from but cannot find it on a map, there is a website that will help you. The IreAtlas Townland Database can be found at www.seanruad.com. An example of how it works would be if your Latta ancestor was from Bready. Enter "Bready" in the database and it will state that "Bready" contained 322 acres, was in Donegal County, Raphoe Barony, Taughboyne Civil Parish, Londonderry PLU, Ulster Providence. So, if your ancestor was from Donegal, he could be related to the same family listed as living in Raphoe, Taughboyne, Londonderry, or Ulster.
Many of our Latta branches begin with a Latta family coming to America in the 1700s. Due to limited information available about which area of Ireland they are from, we will have a hard time determining their lineage. We currently have a DNA project which we hope will help us determine which branches are most closely related.
The late Alex Latta of Branch 16, conducted a lot of research in Ireland on his Branch. John Latta, the first Latta ancestor in his branch history was born abt 1657 at Bready, St. Johnston, Londonderry, Ireland. Died: Nov. 28, 1725 there. Married Mary Steen. She was born abt 1669 and died Aug. 24, 1758. It is said that the Irish branches of the Latta family all came from here or immediate vicinity. John Latta and Mary Steen Latta are buried in the Taughboyne Church of Ireland graveyard. Their tombstone inscriptions says " Here lieth the body of John Latta of Bready, who departed this life November the 25th (cant make out the year), aged 88 (or 68) years. Here lieth the body of Mary Latta alias Steen, wife of John Latta, who departed this life August the ?th 1758 aged 89 years." The tombstone also reads "Also Jane Latta wife of William Latta of Bready who died July 9th 1852 aged ? years." John Latta, Alexander Latta, and William Latta are all recorded as being members of the Church of Ireland at Taughboyne. Their names are recorded in the Vestry Minutes as early as 1796. Other church members were Rankins and Porters.
Alex was able to trace back to the farm which was owned by the Latta family in that area, and I enjoyed reading his e-mail wherein he stated: "I had a lot of looking around to do in St. Johnston, Donegal, so went there the next day, and got permission from Mr. James Flemming to lift some pieces of flag-stones from what was once John Latta's home, c-1790. I don't know how I got these through airport inspection without a close examination. The X-Ray operator stared at them for a long time, then passed the luggage without opening."
While in Ireland, Alex visited with descendents of his branch, with the people who now owned the old Latta farm, visited Dublin's public records office, and gathered information from the PRONI there and in Belfast.
In 1999, Alex reported that the Latta family, and it's derivatives (Lata, Lawtie, etc.) originated from Scotland, in the Shire of Ayre, likely near Mauchline and Cumnock. During the Ulster Plantation of 1609 (when Irish farmers were ordered off their land in order for Scottish families to settle in the area of Northern Ireland) or soon after, at least three Latta brothers took up lands in Donegal. In 1663, the hearth tax rolls (where each fireplace in the house was taxed) three Latta farms were shown. They were in the townlands of Tullyenan, Bready and Castlethird. Several other farmlands were occupied after this date, and the clan proliferated By the first part of the 1700s, emigration became rampant, and many Lattas left for North America. A little later several went to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Pennsylvania and North Carolina seemed to be a favorite place for Lattas to settle. Alex Latta's gr.grandfather owned land at Bready, Ireland until 1860, at which time he sold out and moved to Co. Wexford. Alex's grandfather left Wexford in 1887 and came to Canada.
Several researchers were hired by the Latta Genealogical Society to conduct additional research on the Latta families in Ireland. Sherry Irvine and Eva Doughtery Gremmert were hired as researchers in Northern Ireland.
Eva, a known resource and speaker on Irish genealogy, started working on her own grandfathers who came from Co. Donegal Ireland, one of which was an Ulster Scott, over 30 years ago. She resided in Washington, but owned a house in County Donegal and went there about four times a year for at least a month.
Eva preferred a very focused approach and agreed to begin our work based on the branches identified by the 2000-2002 evaluation by Sherry Irvine as a starting point on Branches 1, 3, 16, 32, and 8 (Branches 1 and 8 appear to have the same immigrant ancestor). Sherry based this decision on proximity on the map and also the commonality of the naming of male children within these branches.
At this time, our organization has decided to broaden our research to Scotland, as it appears there is much information to be found there. Geoffrey Latta has traveled to Scotland on several occasions and has done extensive research on the Latta name. His website at www.lattafamilyorigins.org contains the information that he has found to date.
The primary purpose of the Scottish research is to try and identify early family connections in Scotland and Ireland.
Donations to support our Northern Ireland and Scotland research projects can still be sent to:Randy Phillips, Treasurer