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While researching a collection of estate papers for the Farnham Estate in Newtownbarry in Co. Wexford for the late 18th and early 19th century I came across an intriguing document. The estate records were found in the National Library of Ireland and in Ms. 8527 (5), a collection of drafts and memoranda of legal documents concerning the Newtownbarry Estate from 1802 to 1830, the following draft was found:
Memorandum of a resolution to Eject Geo. Keys, of Kilbrannish, on account of His son threatning [sic] to dispossess him and seize on his stock and property; Resolved to give said George Keys a new lease of his ground in Kilbrannish during his own life in order to prevent his son having any claim on the property. 13th April 1830 by order of Lord Farnham. W. Macutchen.
The idea that a tenant might have gone to the landlord to request assistance in keeping his property from his son seems unusual. George Keys appears in the Tithe Applotment Books in 1825 with 29 acres and 1 rood of land in Kilbrannish, on which he paid a Tithe of £1.8s.7½d., a not insignificant levy. George (or his heirs) were still residing at Kilbrannish North in 1840, unless the errant son was also named George. The Valuation Office Tenure Books for Kilbrannish record George Keys (heirs of) at Lot 16. His holding was diminished to 6 acres 1 rood and 19 perches, but the remainder of the holding appears to have been divided between relatives, none of whom were named Keys. In a note in the margin the valuator recorded “This [Lots 15-18] is all under one lease dated 1794 for 3 lives or 31 years at 10/4 Irish for 29 acres 1 rood of land….16 was the lease, 17 & 18 relatives.”
It does not appear that, despite the memorandum in the Farnham Estate papers, George Keys lease was dissolved and remade in 1830 to exclude the possibility of his son acquiring his lands.
George is no longer residing at Kilbrannish North at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, suggesting that his property did not pass to this son, however, a Keyes family, under the name of Thomas Keyes, remained at Kilbrannish North, his children were baptised in both the Barragh and Newtownbarry parish register, which can be found transcribed online at the Anglican Record Project. Was Thomas the son of George, who ended up with his father’s lands?
Much of the focus of our research for the WDYTYA Molly Shannon episode was to try and understand the relationship between her ancestors, the Cattigan family, and their landlords, the Pikes. An article discovered in the Connaught Telegraph (9th February 1889), published on the Irish News Archive, reported that the local relieving officer presented the Board of Guardians with a sheaf of eviction notices ordered by Pike against his tenants on Achill. This list included Hugh and Owen Cattigan among the estimated 300 people facing eviction ‘whom the exemplary absentee gentleman…[is] prepared to fling homeless, in their fierce wintry weather’.
Ejectment BooksFinding evidence of evictions can be difficult, but there is a much under explored source in the National Archives of Ireland that can, on occasion, be helpful and certainly proved of value for WDYTYA Molly Shannon. Ejectment books, which are part of the Crown and Peace collection in the National Archives of Ireland, can contain evidence of eviction or the threat of eviction. The books are a record of cases taken, usually by landlords, to the Quarter Session courts seeking an ejectment notice against their tenants. The books illustrate the often difficult relationship between landlord and tenant in the later 19th century.
Crown and Peace records in the National Archives of Ireland are organised by county and within the records for each county you will find ejectment books. In most cases these books only date from the 1880s or early 1890s but in two counties, Clare and Cork, a continuous record of ejectment cases date from the 1830s.
The cases are arranged by the Quarter Session of the court and there may be more than one Quarter Session court in each county. In Mayo, for example, there were Quarter Session hearings at both Castlebar and Westport relating to the Pike tenants on Achill. The ejectment books record the following:
The name and date of the Session where the case was heard.
The name of the Judge
The name of the plaintiff, usually the landlord or landlord’s agent
The name or names of the appellant/s (defendants). This could amount to a number of individuals
The cause of the ejectment case, usually for non-payment of rent or serious rent arrears
The precise name and quantity of the occupied land with which the case was concerned, this was usually the name of the townland, civil parish and barony, but local names might also be included
The yearly rent paid by the tenant
The amount of rent owing, if rent arrears was the subject of the ejectment case.
The Cattigan FamilyIn WDYTYA Molly Shannon, her ancestors, the Cattigan family, appear in the ejectment books for Co. Mayo in 1893 at the Easter sitting in Castlebar on 29th March 1893. The plaintiff was Mary Emily Todd Pike, widow and the defendants were Michael, Patrick, Owen and Nancy Cattigan, widow, who were charged with ejectment for non-payment of rent on the lands of Carrowgarve in the parish of Achill. The Cattigan family paid a yearly rent of £4.8s.11d. and were in arrears of £4.8s.11d. In the Hilary term sitting at Westport on 3rd January 1894 a Hugh Cattigan was charged by Mary Emily Todd Pike with non-payment of rent for his lands at Cloghmore in the parish of Achill. Hugh paid a yearly rent of £2.10s and had accrued arrears of £5.
Although possession was decreed in both cases and ejectment notices issued, neither Cattigan family actually departed their holding and the valuation office revision books record them in continuous occupancy of their property into the 20th century and both households appear in the 1901 census. This means that although tenants appear in the ejectment books, they were not necessarily evicted.
Landlord and Tenant RelationshipsWhile researching another family in ejectment books for county Mayo I noticed that the landlord was taking out ejectment notices on the same tenants year after year. Studying the rent arrears that the tenants had accrued it would appear that the tenants were withholding rents and on receipt of an ejectment notice, paid a minimum amount of the arrears to delay an eviction before withholding their rent again. This may signify an antagonistic relationship between some landlords and tenants following the Land League and National League movements. Large groups of tenants understood that they would not be evicted if they acted together withholding rents, paying the minimum once eviction notices were served, only to start withholding rents again in the following sessions.
Whether you are looking for a single tenant who may have been evicted or faced the threat of eviction or looking for a broader view of the relationship between landlords and tenants in a specific parish or townland, the ejectment books can be illuminating, even if they only describe the amount of rent which the tenant paid and the number of times he or she fell into arrears and faced the threat of eviction.
If you are interested in commissioning Timeline to investigate ejectment books for the area in which your ancestors lived, please contact us.
In a recent search for the second marriage of a couple in Dublin city I noticed an issue at www.irishgenealogy.ie
The subject of my search was a man named John Patrick Nolan. John Patrick Nolan went by both John Nolan and Patrick Nolan, which was the first obstacle in my search. In 1901 John Nolan was residing with his first wife, Margaret in Bellevue Buildings, Usher’s Quay Ward in Dublin City. By 1911 he was residing with his second wife, Sarah and the children of his first and second marriages. The only child born to his second marriage was Annie or Anna Mary.
The birth registration, found online at www.irishgenealogy.ie identified Anna Mary’s mother as Sarah Nolan, formerly Brennan and a search of the marriage index at www.irishgenealogy.ie found the marriage of a Patrick Nolan and Sarah Brennan in 1905, a year before Anna Mary’s birth.
On inspection of the marriage registration, I found that Sarah was recorded as Sarah Cronin, a widow, the daughter of Michael Brennan, a butcher. The problem is that the civil marriage index at www.irishgenealogy.ie did not also list the marriage under the name Sarah Cronin. This is not an accurate record of the original indexes. A similar search at www.findmypast.ie and www.familysearch.org found Sarah Cronin and Sarah Brennan both indexed under the same year, registration district, volume and page number, which matched with Patrick Nolan.
This means that if you are searching for the second marriage of a widow at www.irishgenealogy.ie her marriage may only be indexed under her maiden name, rather than her married name. It might be sensible to also search the free marriage indexes online at www.familysearch.org where you will discover whether an entry found in that index is missing from www.irishgenealogy.ie It is entirely possible that other second marriages indexed at www.irishgenealogy.ie are indexed under the married name of the bride, but if you cannot find what you are looking for, try searching alternative indexes.
Preacher’s books form part of the collection of Church of Ireland parish records lodged in the Representative Church Body Library in Churchtown, Dublin. A preacher’s book can be quite a dry and sparse document, but nevertheless sometimes informative. It is a record of the date of and time of the church service, the name of the reader and preacher and the text used in the sermon, the number of the congregation and the number taking communion and the amount of the collection. The last column in the book is reserved for remarks or observations and it is here where the genealogist might find valuable information, such as references to baptisms, marriages or burials. Considering the great loss of Church of Ireland parish registers in the 1922 Public Records Office fire, any source that might contain references to vital events in a parish can prove extremely valuable to anyone researching their Irish family history.
The Woods Family of BallymacwardFor example, the Woods came from the parish of Ballymacward, the Church of Ireland parish registers for which were destroyed in 1922. The Woods family lived in the townland of Balymacward, a townland in the civil parish of Ballymacward, Co. Galway. The family appear in the 1901 census, with the head of the household, Thomas Woods, described as a 41 year old married farmer who was born in Co. Galway and who belonged to the Church of Ireland. Thomas was residing with his wife Elizabeth, also 41 years of age, and their children; Mary Jane, George H., Annie E., Richard, Gerty, Catherine and Robert.
Ballymacward is located in the Registration District of Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. A search of the civil birth index found birth registrations for some but not all of the Woods children. The birth registrations for Mary Jane, Richard and Gerty identified their mother as Elizabeth Mason and confirmed the family address as Ballymacward through the mid-1880s up to 1901. The birth of Annie E. Woods in ca. 1888/1889 was not registered with the civil authorities.
The baptismal record for Annie E. Woods did not survive because the Church of Ireland parish register for Ballymacward dating from 1819 to 1889 was destroyed in the 1922 Public Records Office fire. This means that there was no record of Annie E. Woods birth or baptism.
Ballymacward Preacher’s BookA search was made of the preacher’s book for the Church of Ireland parish of Ballymacward (RCBL P.968.8.1), which commences in 1885. On the page for Easter 1889 a note referring to the baptism of Annie E. Woods was found in the ‘Remarks’ column.
Bapt. Annie Elizabeth Woods
This entry in the preacher’s book is evidence that Annie Elizabeth Woods was baptised in the Church of Ireland parish of Ballymacward on 17th March 1889 by Rev. E.E. Rush.
Ballymacward Preacher’s Book Right Hand Page RCB Library P.986.8.1
Other comments in the preacher’s book tell us more about the parish and parishioners. The minister frequently makes a note of bad weather, possibly explaining a fall in the number of the attending congregation. Another entry in the ‘Remarks’ column stated the following:
[weather] fine – some of the children have whooping cough, read with Mrs. McCullagh
Mrs. McCullagh died a couple of weeks later and her death is also recorded in the ‘Remarks’ column. There are references to donations to the Temperance Society as well as to a Miss Parker taking the Woods [children] for S[unday] School.
What appears to be a rather dry document, on closer inspection has started to build a picture of the life of the parishioners, including some vital records that are a substitute for the loss of the original parish register.
Preacher’s Books at the RCBLPreacher’s books are listed in the extensive RCBL Catalogue for Church of Ireland parish registers. The parish register list can be accessed online at the RCBL website The name of each parish is a link to the RCBL Catalogue pages for that parish. Each catalogue page lists not just the baptismal, marriage and burial registers, but also the vestry minute books, account books and preacher’s books, among others. This should tell you whether there are surviving preacher’s books and the dates for which they survive.
The preacher’s books are not available for research online. If you identify preacher’s books that survive for a particular parish you can commission us to search the item for relevant references to your family, although there is no guarantee that all events that took place in a parish will be recorded in the preacher’s book.
A collection of the Genealogical Office volumes of Betham’s Will Abstracts have been published online by the National Library of Ireland. Betham’s Will Abstracts are abstracts of wills proved in the Prerogative Court, records which were largely destroyed in 1922.
Before the establishment of the Probate Court in 1857, the Church of Ireland Consistorial Courts in each diocese in Ireland were responsible for making grants of probate and issuing letters of administration. For estates with property valued in excess of £5 in more than one diocese probate and administration was granted by the Prerogative Court of Armagh. The records of the Prerogative Court are a record of the landed families of Ireland with property in more than one diocese. Although the majority of these records were destroyed in the 1922 Public Records Office fire, work on this collection, carried out by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms, in the 19th century, survives in the National Archives and the Genealogical Office.
Sir William Betham
Betham created an index of testators up to 1800, which was later edited and published by Sir Arthur Vicars in 1897 as the Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland. Vicar’s publication can be searched online at Findmypast. Betham also made abstracts of the genealogical information found in the Prerogative Wills in a series of notebooks in the National Archives of Ireland. On the basis of these abstracts Betham created a series of sketch pedigrees, now held in the Genealogical Office. The Genealogical Office also hold 32 volumes of Betham’s Will Abstracts, some of which have been published online by the National Library of Ireland.
Betham’s Will AbstractsThis collection of Betham’s will abstracts (NLI GO Mss 223-254) are divided into two parts, the Old Series, comprising 4 volumes of wills up to 1700 (NLI GO Mss 223-226) and the New Series, 28 volumes from 1700 to 1800 (NLI GO Mss 227-254). These notebooks contain abstracts taken from wills proved in the Prerogative Court but also include individuals whose estates were not proved in the Prerogative Court.
The New Series of Wills Abstracts have been partly digitised and published online by the National Library of Ireland. However, navigating this collection can be tricky, with several indexes worth consulting. A search of Vicar’s Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland will determine whether a will was proved in the Prerogative Court and if a relevant name is located, the Will Abstracts and Sketch Pedigrees should be checked for more details.
Betham himself indexed each of his volumes in the Old and New Series’ and these indexes have been consolidated by Virgina Wade McAnliss in her Consolidated Index to the Records of the Genealogical Office, which are available to download from the National Library of Ireland website. Under each surname in the Consolidated Index you are most likely to find the reference: GO MS 223-54 Betham Will Abstracts, followed by a volume and page number. For example, under the surname Atherton in the Consolidated Index, is a reference GO MS 223-54 Betham Will Abstracts 3/116, 14/112, referring to volume 3 page 116 and volume 14 page 112.
Betham’s Will Abstracts New Series Online
The volumes that have been published online by the National Library of Ireland are numbers; 14 (h-J), 16 (L-S), 18 (Ma-Mo), 22 (Pr-Rob), 24 (Sa-Sm), 25 (Sm-St), 26 (St-Sw), 27 (Sw-Ti), 28 (Ti-Ty), 29 (V-W), 30 (Wa), 31 (We-Wi) and 32 (W-Z).
The volumes are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the testator, but Betham and McAnliss’s indexes include the surnames of anyone else mentioned in the abstract. The reference to Atherton in Volume 14, page 112 of the New Series of Will Abstracts relates to the will of Thomas Hunter of Birr in the Kings County whose will was dated 3 November 1769, which was proved on 14th October 1771. According to the sketch pedigree using details extracted from the will, Thomas Hunter was the grandson of _______ Hunter and Elizabeth Atherton. Elizabeth was the daughter of Oliver (possibly crossed out) Atherton and had a brother, Godfrey Atherton. Elizabeth married ______ Hunter and the couple had at least one son, _______ Hunter, who married and had a son, Thomas. Thomas Hunter married Katherine, sister of Anthony and James Hutchins and the couple had children; Thomas, Elizabeth, Rachel Calham, Richard and Joshua Hunter.
While the will itself did not relate to the Atherton family, there were Athertons mentioned as ancestors of the deceased, quite possibly because the property of Thomas Hunter came to him through the Atherton line of his family.
Inspecting McAnliss’ Consolidated Index can often lead to a long list of entries for a particular surname in the Betham Will Abstracts (GO Mss 223-254). It should be possible to determine by the volume number whether the entry relates to a testator of the relevant surname or someone who might have been cited as a family member. The volumes themselves also contain an index at the back for all surnames that appear in that volume.
The digitised volumes can be found in the National Library of Ireland Main Catalogue by searching for “Wills, New Series” under the author “Ireland, Genealogical Office”. You can then browse the digitised books directly through the Catalogue. For notebooks that have not yet been digitised, you can order copies of pages from the original Betham’s Will Abstracts using the Timeline Genealogy Clerk Service.
O’Byrne, Eileen, Betham and Lodge, published in Aspects of Irish Genealogy II Ed. M.D. Evans
Grenham, John, https://www.johngrenham.com/browse/retrieve_text.php?text_contentid=70 (3/1/18)
The Irish Government website www.irishgenealogy.ie has expanded the images of birth, marriage and death registrations being made available online. Researchers can now search the index of marriages (1864-1941) and view the original marriage registration entries from 1870 to 1941. The index of deaths (1864-1966) now links to images of death registrations from 1878 to 1966. The images of birth registrations has been extended to 1916. User submitted corrections up to July of 2017 have also been added. The earliest marriage and death registration images are expected to go online later in 2018.
This website is entirely free to use and you can now check the original entries for nearly the entire 19th and early 20th century records of civil registration for Ireland. Being able to view the original record is vital for research. Transcripts of marriage records on sites like Ancestry often only include the names of the bride and groom and the names of their fathers. However, the original registration will include addresses and occupations as well as the denomination of the church in which the marriage took place and the names of the witnesses, who can often be siblings of the bride and groom. A birth registration does not just record the name and date of birth of the child, but also the names of the parents and in some small cases, the location of the father if he is not at home at the time of the birth. This includes the father working or serving overseas or being deceased at the time of death, vital information for family history research.
The latest release of Military Service Pension Applications on 24th October 2017 adds almost 5,000 new scanned files to the collection, bringing the number of files online up to about 20,000, relating to 6,564 individuals. The files are available to search at the website of the Irish Military Archives. The Pension Applications have also been indexed on Ancestry.
The Military Service Pension Applications are one of the best ways of building a picture of the activities of someone who was active in the Revolutionary period, IF they or one of their dependents applied for a pension. To find out more about the history of this collection see our blog post on the Military Service Pensions Collection. An example of how one pension application can build the story of not just one individual, but an entire family who were active in the Revolutionary period can be found by looking at the Military Service Pension Application of Charles Bevan.
Charles Bevan’s Military Service Pension ApplicationCharles Stewart Bevan applied for a Pension for his Pre-Truce service. In his application he stated that he joined the Irish Volunteers in December 1913, shortly after they were formed and served until 15th June 1922. He was active with the “C” Co. 1st Batt., Dublin Brigade from 23rd April to 29th April 1916 in North West Dublin under Captain Francis Fahy and was active in the occupation and defence of the Four Courts during that week. He was imprisoned in Richmond Barracks, Kilmainham, Mountjoy, Portland, Lewes, Parkhurst and Pentonville Prisons between 30th April 1916 and February 1918. Between April 1920 and March 1921 he was involved in an abortive attempt to rescue Kevin Barry and also removed Matt Brady from Richmond Hospital. Attached to his application was a personal statement from Matt Brady about this incident:
“Towards the end of the month of October 1920 I was a patient in the Richmond Hospital Dublin. One day when I was standing with the aid of two crutches at a window I saw the Military and Police drive up in lorries and surround the building. A few minutes later a nurse came into the ward where I was and told me that the Hall Porter had sent her up to tell me that the Military were looking for me. I was taken from that ward by some of the hospital students and hidden in a linen press while the search went on in the hospital for me, and later when it was over was removed to the hospital telephone exchange. It was there that Charles Beven found me when he came to take me away. He had a cab and helped me to get into it. It was taken to his house in Geraldine St. and remained there for some time. Later I was moved to the house of John O’Reilly in the same street where I remained until I was sent to the Mater Hospital.”
According to Bevan, in a statement attached to his application, his home “No. 9 Geraldine Street, Dublin, was classified as a ‘safe house; for all purposes for the District, and was used as a ‘dump’ for arms and ammunition of ‘B’ Co., 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, from about January 1921, till after the Truce. Our house was also in readiness as a First Aid Station on several occasions.” Bevan was active with the Irish Volunteers until June 15th 1922 when he ‘was summoned to attend a parade at Fowler Hall, Parnell Square. Capt. Sean Prendergast questioned me as to my attitude in the event of hostilities. Being unable and unwilling to take part in a Civil War, I resigned from the Company.”
Bevan’s Military Service Pension Application identified many of the men he served with and served under, who acted as references to his application: Captain Frank Fahy, Mark Wilson, D. J. Musgrave, Fionan Lynch, George Irvine, Ed Dolan, Sean Prendergast, Frank Carberry, Frank McNally, Sean Nathan, Sean Flood, Matt Brady, James O’Keeffe, Stephen J. Murphy, Thomas J. Clarke. Letters, including from Thomas Clarke, confirm Bevan’s activities and there is also a transcript of an interview with Bevan made on 15th January 1937.
IRA Nominal Rolls and BMH Witness StatementsBevan’s Military Service Pension Application opens the door to further research of the man and his involvement in the Revolutionary Period. A search of the IRA Nominal Rolls for the C Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade found not just Charles Bevan, but also Joseph, Thomas and another unnamed Bevan, who all served in the Four Courts during the 1916 Rising. These four men were most likely related. A search of the Bureau of Military History Witness Statements did not find any reference to Charles, but did find a statement by a Seamus Bevan, who turned out to be the youngest brother of Charles. In his statement Seamus recounted seeing the new Irish flag flying about the GPO on Easter Week 1916. The BMH Witness Statement of Sean Prendergast referred to Joe Bevan as the father of three boys and two girls “all of whom were serving in the Republican forces – the girls in Cumann na mBan”. The three boys were Charles, Thomas and Seamus. According to Prendergast, Joe Bevan was a man of humorous character “at a time when the wearing of the Volunteer uniforms were banned Joe, for a wager, walked from his home in Geraldine St. to Hoban’s shop in Parnell St. and returned to his home in the uniform he had worn in Easter Week.”
The Bevan FamilyThe 1911 census for the Bevan family confirmed that Charles was the son of Joseph Bevan, a printer compositor and his wife Margaret. Charles had siblings; Thomas, Catherine, James [Seamus] and Mary and according to Sean Prendergast, all of the Bevan children were active during the Revolutionary period along with their father, Joseph. The family home on Geraldine Street was a safe house, arms dump and first aid station. the death of Joseph Bevan, who was recorded as deceased on the IRA Nominal Rolls, compiled in the 1930s, was found at www.irishgenealogy.ie. He died on 13th December 1919 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis at the Allan Ryan Hospital, a 51 year old married compositor residing at Geraldine Street. The Allan Ryan Hospital was a TB sanatorium set up in the isolation hospital out by the Pigeon House.
Using the Pension Applications to identify the company and battalion that your ancestor served with can lead to other sources that document the actions and Volunteers of that company and help to build a picture of your ancestor and his fellow Volunteers during the Revolutionary period.
The Tithe Applotment Books are a nationwide survey of property undertaken between 1823 and 1838 for the purpose of assessing the rate of the Tithe, a religious tax that was levied for the upkeep of the established church, the Church of Ireland. The Tithe was levied on certain types of agricultural land and as such the survey is certainly not as comprehensive as the later Griffith’s Valuation. However, the Tithe Applotment Books act as a valuable census substitute for the early 19th century.
Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland
Surprises in the Tithe Applotment BooksThe books themselves can be quite dry, recording the name of the occupier and the size and value of the titheable land. However, unlike Griffith’s Valuation, the format of the books is not consistent and inspecting the original books can sometimes reveal some surprising information.
Parish of Drumlease Co. LeitrimThe Tithe Applotment Books for the civil parish of Drumlease, Co. Leitrim illustrate one little gem that can be found in this collection. When this particular book was compiled the valuator very kindly included a detailed map of each townland with the name of the occupier written across his lot of land. This is demonstrated in the adjacent image of the townland of Carrickacroghery. Each lot is numbered and named and the opposite page in the book lists the occupiers, the size of their holding in both Irish and English measure, the lot number as marked on the map, the rate per acre and the total applotment.
These maps for this parish are particularly valuable. The Tithe Applotment Books can be used to identify an earlier generation of a family, found in Griffith’s Valuation, on the same land holding in the 1820s or 1830s. In some cases this can be quite straight forward, the same surname appears only once in the townland at the time of the Tithes and Griffith’s Valuation. Often the size of their land holding is similar (although rarely exactly the same). However, in many instances, it can be impossible to match a holding recorded in the late 1820s in the Tithe Applotment Books, with a holding recorded in the 1850s in Griffith’s Valuation. The detailed maps for the parish of Drumlease published with the Tithe Applotment Books have made it very easy to identify the occupier of a single lot in the townland in the 1820s and the occupier of the same lot in Griffith’s Valuation in the 1850s. The Drumlease Tithe Applotment Book is also interesting because it demonstrates the difference between the Irish and English measure of land, a term also common used in the records of the Registry of Deeds.
Tithe Applotment Books OnlineThe Tithe Applotment Books are ‘sort of’ online. Microfilm copies of the books have been transcribed by volunteers with the Church of the Latter Day Saints and this database of transcripts was given to the National Archives of Ireland, who published the Tithe Applotment Books on their website: www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie . Unfortunately, this collection is incomplete and missing parishes, including the parish of Drumlease, Co. Leitrim. The quality of the transcriptions are also problematic, with many personal names and townland names incorrectly transcribed and in some cases parishes assigned to the wrong county. However, if you cannot make it to a repository that holds the microfilm copies of the Tithe Applotment Books, the National Archives website is the best place to conduct your search. The best approach to this collection is to simply browse the collection. Select the county, parish and townland that you are interested in and review the images of the original books yourself, rather than rely on the database.
If the Tithe Applotment Books for the parish that you are interested in are not available online you can contact us to commission a search and copies of the books for a particular townland or parish.
If you have the chance to visit the Valuation Office in Dublin to consult the Valuation Office Revision Books you will have discovered that a large part of their collection has now been digitised and can be accessed using the computer terminals in the public research room. Original copies of the books that have been digitised will not now be produced for researchers unless there are problems with the digital images. This a great step forward for the records in the Valuation Office, which should eventually make their way online.
The digitised Revision Books are arranged by county and then by District Electoral Division (DED), which can pose a problem for anyone who has identified the location of their townland by civil parish. Of course the staff in the Valuation Office will look up your townland and supply you with the DED, but they are often busy. You will also find the Index of Townlands in the public research room and you can look up the townland and corresponding DED.
However, the Index of Townlands may not always be to hand. Another quick way of determining the DED before you even depart for the Valuation Office is to look up the townland in the 1901 and 1911 census. The census is the only other source in which the townlands are arranged by DED. The DED is the place name given after the townland on the census webpage.
Once you have the DED, you can very quickly navigate your way to the relevant Valuation Office Revision Books. The images of the index for each book are stored in a folder titled, obviously, Index. The page numbers in the index should match the image numbers in the folder.
A3 and A4 colour copies of the digitsed revision books can be printed on site at a cost of €1 per page, but even a photograph of the computer screen can be a sufficient copy of a relevant record. If you are planning a visit to the Valuation Office, armed with your list of townlands and DEDs, please check our guide to the Valuation Office.
A search through the catalogues in PRONI for records relating to the estate of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers in the Limavady area found the following extract from the Journal of Tour to Ireland 17th March-23rd May 1820 written by John Towgood. Towgood may have been an agent of the Fishmongers, his tour included many meetings with Barré Beresford of Walworth Manor, the primary tenant of the Fishmonger’s estate, where they discussed rentals and the condition of tenants. On his tour Towgood made notes about the living conditions of some of the poorest inhabitants of the area:
“Saturday 1st April. We proceeded after breakfast on a further view of the estate….in the course of the day we entered …many very wretched hovels, called cabins….On entering the cabin, by a door through which smoke is perhaps issuing at the time, you observe a bog peat fire, around which is a group of boys and girls as ragged as possible and all without shoes or stockings, sometimes a large pig crosses the cabin without ceremony, or a small one is lying by the fire with its nose close to the toes of the children; perhaps an old man is seen or woman, the grandfather or grandmother of the family with a baby in her lap, two of three stout girls spinning flax, the spinning wheels making a whirring noise, like the humming of bees; a dog lying at his length in the chimney corner perhaps a goose hatching eggs under the dresser and all this in a small cabin full of smoke, an earth floor, a heap of potatoes in one corner and a heap of peat turf in another, sometimes a cow and sometimes a horse occupy the corner. In an inner room there are two or more wretched beds and yet the poor inhabitants of these miserable hovels appear in general to be contented.”
Towgood’s account is an insightful look at how the poorest of the population were living in the Limavady area in 1820 and these living conditions were likely to be replicated across the country.