Several days ago I noticed that an original Clontibret parish Church of Ireland vestry minutes book (of County Monaghan, Ireland), with entries from 1871 through the early 1900s, was being offered for sale on eBay. I was quite shocked -- I thought that a church vestry book was the property of the church, which indeed legally it should be, but the church warden/minister/clerk/curate or other person who had this book could have dumped it (accidentally or through neglect), and someone rescued it from a trash bin or purchased it from a shop to sell on eBay. This is just SUCH a pity, to see a lovely old church record book for sale to the highest bidder.
I emailed several historian/genealogist friends in Belfast and Dublin and asked if they knew about the Clontibret vestry book selling on eBay, but none did, and we tried bidding on it to try to save it. Perhaps that's what the other bidders were doing, as well, but the bidders' identities are kept private and we don't know who's bidding, or what they intend to do with the book if they purchase it. There are many collectors who want antique/vintage books of one category or another: church, military, etc.
We had hoped to get the vestry book, have it digitally scanned/microfilmed, donate the digital copies to PRONI and the original book to the RCB Library (if they wanted it and did not already have a microfilm of it, which is indeed the case -- and they DO want it). However, someone else "won" (purchased) the book for £174.00.
None of the Clontibret parish Church of Ireland records are housed at the RCB Library, they are in the hands of changing church officials. These particular vestry minutes are NOT in church records on microfilm at PRONI in Belfast. The original ledger that sold on eBay was the ONLY record of those vestry activities in those given years.
This is a book that has gone in a private sale, and as far as I know, it will not be accessible for research, by anyone, anywhere, ever again. The eBay seller has not responded to my inquiries so far, as I asked if he could put me in touch with the purchaser in some way, or if he himself would copy the book pages (for which I offered to pay him) before shipping it to the purchaser. I do still hope that he will respond.
If you know anything about this Clontibret vestry book, if you were the purchaser or know the purchaser, PLEASE contact the RCB Library and PRONI, and see if the purchaser will allow scanned images of the book pages to be donated for research. Dr. Susan Hood and Dr. Raymond Refausse of the RCB Library would be very glad to hear from you, the PRONI staff would be glad to hear from you, and so would I.
I live in the USA, but our visits to the RCB library and PRONI have given us much information on our County Monaghan families. We are very appreciative of their archival work, as well as that of the National Library and National Archives in Dublin. And, so much is available on-line today! A lot of hard work goes into the searchable Irish databases on library/archives/reference web sites.
If you appreciate what these wonderful archives and libraries do to preserve the records and manuscripts of the Church of Ireland, the Catholic Church and other denominations, help these documents continue to be available to researchers. Keep an eye out for the "sold on eBay" Clontibret parish vestry book.
Sincerely, Annie Crenshaw -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The sale listing on eBay had these details, with photos of several pages from the Clontibret ledger (which I'll be glad to share with anyone who wants the digital images):
Item title: Old Irish historical records Clontibret Church Monaghan Ireland 1871 Minute Book Item number: 181506599953 Winning bid:£174.00 Bidders: 8 Bids: 23 Time ended: 04-Sep-14 Seller:second-helping (2562 transactions)100% positive Feedback Based in United Kingdom, second-helping has been an eBay member since 13 May, 2002
Also, since Ancestry is closing down GenForum, I won't be able to post an update on the fate of the Clontibret parish vestry book here, but I'll post it elsewhere. Just do an Internet search for my name with the church name.