Thursday, December 5, 2013

Benevolent Irish Society, St. John's

The coming of millions of Irish people to Canada and the United States led to the creation of charitable, benevolent, and fraternal organizations for these immigrants and their descendants. One such example that I recently came across is the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) in St. John's, Newfoundland.

The BIS was founded in 1806 by prominent Irish residents to aid orphans, neglected children, the sick, the old, and disabled on a non denominational basis. Membership in the society is restricted to those of Irish descent.[1] The organization is still in existence today, over 205 years later. A history of the organization is available on this Newfoundland and Labrador website.

Such societies are of obvious genealogical use as they regularly printed lists of members, officers, and those who gave financial contributions. Some of these 19th century records are housed in the Archives and Special Collections at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Another accessible example of records for the BIS is this early, excellent list of all members and donors for the 1806-1807 period.

[1] Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives. Fonds - Benevolent Irish Society Fonds. 2013. accessed 20 November 2013.