About the Author

My name is Bill Macafee. I am a retired university lecturer. I spent some thirty years in the School of Education, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and before that teaching in schools.

I was born in the townland of Forttown, about two miles outside the town of Ballymoney, County Antrim. I attended Seacon Primary School (a rural primary school) in the 1940s and Dalriada School, a grammar school in the town of Ballymoney in the 1950s. I attended Queen's University, Belfast in the 1960s where I studied geography, history, archaeology, economics and geology. Two of my teachers were Professor Estyn Evans and Professor Kenneth Connell. Both played a major part in shaping my academic interests for the rest of my life. Evans taught me how to read a landscape, how to look for the people who shaped that landscape and an appreciation of the importance of detailed local study. At the same time he opened my eyes to the wider cultural context within which this detailed local activity was taking place. Connell, again a meticulous man, provided me with the knowledge and desire to seek out the historical processes which shaped Irish society, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I became particularly interested in the history of population in Ireland and went on to complete a doctorate on this subject at the University of Ulster (Coleraine) under Professor Peter Roebuck. This work related to the population history of Ulster 1630-1841.

During the time that I was doing the research for my doctorate I met Dr. W.H. (Bill) Crawford and Dr. Brian Trainor from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and they introduced me to local history. This was around 1967/68 when I was teaching in Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt. At this time I also met a man from the townland of Gorteade which is just outside the village of Upperlands in South Derry. His name was Joe Doherty. Joe and I walked around his townland with the Griffith's Printed Valuation of 1859 and the accompanying map and we repeopled that landscape with the occupiers of land listed in the source. I then acquired other sources and the story of that townland and the surrounding townlands began to take shape. This study provided me with some of the evidence that I needed for my academic studies but it also showed me how such work was of interest to anyone who wanted to know about life in their area in earlier times. Furthermore people could identify with such studies - these were real people that they knew, or their parents had known.

Since that time I have carried out the "Doherty" process in many other townlands, parishes and towns, met many knowledgeable and interesting people and learnt something new every time. More recently I have become interested in Family History, having researched a number of families, including my own. Clearly studies of individual families, like the study of individual townlands, can provide us with case studies of what happened to these families over periods of time. This can add important evidence to our understanding of, for example, why some families survived in an area to the present day and others disappeared. I recently got round to publishing something on the townland of Forttown where I was born. This article, plus some of my other publications that might be of interest to you, are listed below in chronological order. I was also involved in the Clachan Project undertaken by the Glens of Antrim Historical Society between 2004 and 2007.  Also, in 2010 I published a CD on Researching Derry and Londonderry Ancestors: A practical guide for the family and local historian.

'The Study of the History of a Townland: A Worksheet’, Ulster Local Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1976, pp. 15-17. A revised version of this paper was published in Ulster Local Studies, Vol. 9, 1984, pp. 72-74.

‘Local Historical Studies of rural areas: methods and sources’, Irish Archives Bulletin, Vol. 6, 1976, pp. 4-31. An online copy of this article is hosted on the Aughty.org website at http://www.aughty.org/pdf/localhist_stud_rural.pdf.

‘The Colonisation of the Maghera Region of South Derry during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, Ulster Folklife, Vol. 23, 1977, pp. 70-91.

The Teaching of Local History in Northern Ireland: A Bibliography and Guide to Sources, The Queen's University of Belfast Teachers' Centre, 1979.

W. Macafee & V. Morgan, 'Population in Ulster, 1660-1760' in P. Roebuck, ed., Plantation to Partition: Essays in Honour of J. L. McCracken, Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1981, pp. 46-63.

V. Morgan & W. Macafee, ' Historical Revision XXI: Mortality in Magherafelt, Co. Derry, in the Early Eighteenth Century Reappraised', Irish Historical Studies, Vol. xxiii, No. 89, May 1982, pp. 50-60.

‘Parish Registers’, Ulster Local Studies, Vol. 9, 1984, pp. 57-64.

V. Morgan & W. Macafee, 'Irish Population in the Pre-Famine Period: Evidence from County Antrim', The Economic History Review [Second Series] Vol. XXXVII, No. 2, May 1984, pp. 182-196.

V. Morgan & W. Macafee, 'Household and family size and structure in County Antrim in the mid-nineteenth century', Continuity and Change, Vol. 2 (3), 1987, pp. 455-476.

‘Pre-Famine Population in Ulster: Evidence from the Parish Register of Killyman’, in P. O'Flanagan, P. Ferguson and K. Whelan (eds), Rural Ireland: Modernisation and Change, 1600-1900, Cork University Press, Cork, 1987, pp. 142-61.

‘The Movement of British Settlers into Ulster during the Seventeenth Century’, Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review, Vol. 2, No. 8, 1992, pp. 94-111.

‘The General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland (Griffith’s Valuation)’. This was the introduction to the book Griffith’s Valuation (1859) – Magherafelt Union, Ballinascreen Historical Society, 1995, pp. i-ix.

‘The Demographic History of Ulster, 1750-1841’, in H. Tyler Blethen & Curtis W. Wood (eds.) Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch Irish, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa & London, 1997, pp. 41-60.

‘Forttown, County Antrim’, in W. H. Crawford & R. H. Foy (eds.), Townlands in Ulster - Local History Studies, Ulster Historical Foundation in association with the Federation for Ulster Local Studies, Belfast, 1998, pp. 35-65.

‘The Population of County Tyrone, 1600-1991’, in C. Dillon & H. A. Jeffries (eds.), Tyrone: History and Society, Geography Publications, Dublin, 2000, pp. 433-459.

‘The pre-Famine population of Ireland: a reconsideration’, in B. Collins, P. Ollerenshaw & T. Parkhill (eds.), Industry, Trade and People in Ireland, 1650-1950: essays in honour of W. H. Crawford, Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 2005, pp. 69-86.

CD on Researching Derry and Londonderry Ancestors: A practical guide for the family and local historian., 2010.