Yes, Dog Licenses

Kathy asked about the value of the dog license database at Findmypast (the database is also available at Ancestry). As Irish genealogists, we'll use any record set we can, so here's my story about dog licenses.

I didn't think much about dog licenses when they were first announced, however, as I was going through the Petty Session records, Bernard Moughty of Aghnabohy (that's mine) was in the Petty Session Court in Ballymore in 1876. It seems he had an unlicensed dog for which he had to pay a fine and get the dog licensed. The Petty Sessions were the Magistrate Courts, the lowest courts that handled primarily minor cases of drunk and disorderly, a cow getting into someone's garden and assaults. I'm sure your family is not there, but there are 181 instances of the Moughtys in these records (and that's only one spelling). Now, I have to say that they are not always the Defendant...sometimes they're the Claimant or a Witness. These records are interesting to read and they put a person in a particular place at a particular time. Having found this record, it's time to check the Dog Licenses. I did have to check multiple spellings (of both surname and given name) but found records of dog licenses from 1871 through 1920. This is a reminder that spelling doesn't count...use wild cards, or even do an old fashioned line by line search. Since I had various spellings, I transcribed them into a spreadsheet so I could sort them.

There were a few years he clearly "forgot" and 1876 seemed to be one where he got caught. The first registration I found for 1876 was for a brown and white Sheep dog. Why should I care? Since there are no census records for the 19th century, these records place your ancestor at a particular place (the townland) at a particular time. If your ancestor disappears from the dog license database what happened? The answer I usually get, is the dog died. Not necessarily...these were typically working farm dogs so if the dog died, it was probably replaced. In fact as you follow these records you will see the dogs change...Bernard seemed partial to male sheepdogs, but a greyhound and terrier were also noted at various times. At another time he had a hound or a mongrel.

Petty Session Record for Bernard Moughty with an unlicensed dog

Dog License register for Bernard Moughty with 1 Brown and White Female Sheepdog If your ancestor disappears from the records I'd start looking about that time for a death or emigration record. For example, the last entry for Thomas Moughty is in 1878 and he died in 1879.

The records are listed in the order of the registration, but include the townland so you might find neighbors. Perhaps one of these might turn out to be the surname of a spouse of one of the daughters. It's also a way to differentiate individuals of the same name...Bernard Moughty of Aghnabohy vs. Bernard Moughty of Ballynacargy vs. Bernard of Ballynahinch. And if you're lucky, you may even get the name of the dog!

Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!

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