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County Down was the first Ulster county to be colonized by the Normans, the county being formed around 1300. In 1609 a well planned plantation of Ulster, led by various adventurers began.

One brought over 10,000 Scots to northwest Down, with names such as Boyd, Fraser, Johnston, Lindsay, Morrison, Patterson and Maxwell being common in Down.

English adventurers such as the Annesleys, Hills and Montgomerys brought over English families with names such as Wilson, Johnston, Young, Taylor, Walker, Jackson, Watson, Bradshaw and Bradford.

The relative proportions of people of Irish/Norman, Scottish and extraction can, generally, be estimated from the proportions of Catholic, Presbyterian and Episcopalian (Protestant) respectively in the country.

In 1841 the respective portions were 32, 45 and 21 per cent, with the population being 368,000.

County Down was less badly affected by the Great Famine which caused many to leave from the rural areas to the City of Belfast, reducing the population by around 11 per cent in 1851. Of these, 46,000 died in the years 1847-50. The level of emigration was one of the lowest in Ireland; only 6 per cent of the population as against a national average of 11.4 per cent.

At Banbridge Genealogy Services we hold copies of Griffith's Valuation Books for the Banbridge and Newry Districts, with the corresponding maps, as well as various Ordnance Survey maps and a small reference library to aid further family and local history research. exploregenealogy.co.uk

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