Researching Farming Ancestors in Ireland

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Media: BOOK - paperback, 240 pages
Author: W. Roulston
Year: 2021
ISBN: 9781909556911
Other: Index
Publisher: Ulster Historical Foundation

A new genealogical guide to help you find out more about your Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors.

Agriculture has been central to Irish life for millennia and though in recent decades there have been significant social, economic and demographic changes, the people of Ireland are still generally thought of in terms of their historic relationship with the land.

The aim of this book is to help those with roots in the farming communities of Ireland find out more about their ancestors. Throughout this volume, attention is drawn to the richness of the documentation held in archives and libraries on the island of Ireland, as well as highlighting a selection of material found beyond these shores.

Prior to the late nineteenth century very few farmers owned their farms outright, but rather were tenants on an estate. Considerable attention is given to the records generated by the management of landed estates in Ireland and how these can help uncover much about the lives of farming families. As the result of legislation passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the estate system came to an end and an owner-occupier class of farmers was created. The records relating to this major period of change are highlighted and discussed.

There are also chapters on the Registry of Deeds, Valuation records, registers of freeholders and the Encumbered Estates Court and its successors, as well as material created by farmers, such as diaries and account books, and the records of farming organisations, including agricultural improvement societies and the co-operative movement. A final chapter considers documentation relating to agricultural labourers, cottiers and farm workers.

A farmer’s son from County Tyrone, Dr William Roulston is the author of Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors (2nd edition, 2018) and Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland (2020).

Chapter Listing


1. Introduction
1.1 Farmers and farming families in Ireland
1.2 Archives and libraries on the island of Ireland
1.3 Publications and printed sources
1.4 Irish land divisions

2. The three Cs: civil, church and census records
2.1 Civil registration
2.2 Church records
2.2.1 Other records generated by churches
2.3 Census returns
2.3.1 Census returns 1821–51
2.3.2 Census returns 1901–11
2.4 Old age pension forms

3. Finding farmers in landed estate collections
3.1 Landowners in Ireland
3.1.1 Landowning families
3.1.2 Institutions
3.1.3 Companies
3.1.4 The Crown
3.1.5 Publications on landed estates
3.1.6 The role of agents
3.2 Locating estate papers
3.2.1 Published and printed guides
3.2.2 Major archives in Ireland
3.2.3 Other archives in Ireland
3.2.4 Archives beyond Ireland
3.3 Online databases and resources
3.4 Identifying the relevant estate

4. The range of records in estate collections
4.1 The potential and limitations of using estate papers
4.2 Tenant farmers and tenure
4.3 Tenant farmers and leases
4.4 Robert Rolleston’s lease of Gortavea
4.4.1 The parties to it
4.4.2 Location and extent of the farm
4.4.3 The term of the lease
4.4.4 The payment of rent
4.4.5 The conditions to be fulfilled by the lessee
4.5 Lease books
4.6 Rentals and accounts
4.7 Maps, surveys and valuations
4.8 Correspondence and tenants’ petitions
4.9 Manor court records
4.10 Emigration schemes
4.11 Miscellaneous records

5. Finding farmers in the Registry of Deeds
5.1 The creation of the Registry of Deeds
5.2 The registration process
5.3 The indexes
5.4 The range of documents registered
5.5 The value of research in the Registry of Deeds
5.6 Access to the Registry of Deeds
5.7 The Land Registry of Ireland
5.8 The Land Registry and Registry of Deeds in Northern Ireland

6. Finding farmers in valuation records
6.1 Tithe valuations
6.1.1 Early tithe records
6.1.2 Reform of the tithe system
6.1.3 Tithe applotment books
6.1.4 Tithe defaulters
6.2 The Valuation of Ireland
6.2.1 The work of the Valuation
6.2.2 The manuscript records of the Valuation
6.2.3 Valuation maps
6.2.4 The Primary (Griffith’s) Valuation
6.2.5 Post Griffith’s Valuation manuscript books
6.2.6 Why check the manuscript books if Griffith’s is available?

7. Records of the Encumbered/Landed Estates Court
7.1 The setting up of the Court
7.2 The Court ‘rentals’
7.3 The availability of Court ‘rentals’

8. Farmers and electoral records
8.1 The electorate
8.2 Electoral records
8.3 Available electoral records

9. Farmers and land reform
9.1 Land reform in Ireland
9.1.1 Mid-nineteenth-century legislation
9.1.2 The Irish Church Act of 1869
9.1.3 The 1870 Land Act
9.1.4 The Bessborough Commission
9.1.5 The 1881 Land Act and the Irish Land Commission
9.1.6 The Ashbourne and Wyndham Acts
9.1.7 Congested Districts Board
9.1.8 Post Partition land acts in the Republic of Ireland
9.1.9 The Land Purchase Commission, Northern Ireland
9.2 The records of land reform
9.2.1 Records in PRONI
9.2.2 Land Commission records in the Republic of Ireland
9.2.3 Other records relating to land reform

10. Other places to look for farmers
10.1 Agricultural schools
10.1.1 Early ventures
10.1.2 The National Education system and agricultural instruction
10.1.3 Records of other agricultural schools
10.1.4 Agricultural schools in parliamentary papers
10.1.5 Grant aid applications for agricultural schools
10.2 Crown and Peace records
10.2.1 Grand jury records
10.2.2 Ejectment books
10.4.1 Registers of tree-planting
10.3 The flaxseed premiums of 1796
10.4 Agricultural census returns
10.4.1 The agricultural census of 1803
10.5 Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers
10.6 Testamentary records
10.6.1 Wills and farmers

11. Farming organisations
11.1 Farming societies and similar bodies
11.2 Associations for rural women and young people
11.3 Records of farmers and land reform
11.4 The co-operative movement
11.5 Government departments and county committees

12. Records generated by farmers
12.1 Examples of records produced by farmers
12.2 Publications on farmers’ records
12.3 Records in archives
12.4 Correspondence

13. Labourers, cottiers and farm workers
13.1 Difficulties with definition
13.2 Records of agricultural labourers
13.3 Labourers’ cottages

14. Conclusion


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