Top three resources for Irish land records

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08 October 2021
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Family historian Chris Paton provides an overview of three key online resources for Irish-based land research.

Whilst our Irish ancestors may have regularly come and gone throughout history, the landscape of Ireland itself has towered over all of their stories as a constant.

There are many specific land-themed resources that can tell us more about the lives of our Irish ancestors. Across time, Irish people leased, owned, lost and appropriated property through a variety of opportunities and tragedies; their land was subjected to various valuation and revaluation exercises; and they were regularly taxed on their holdings by the Church of Ireland and the State. 

1 .Records of Leases and Purchases

Records of leases and purchases may be found within surviving estate papers, with substantial collections held at the National Archives of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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2. Tithes and valuations

The Composition for Tithes (Ireland) Act of 1823 led to a later valuation to determine the financial value of tithes due to the Church of Ireland, the records of which note landholders and the size and value of holdings.

Not all lands were valued but the records for those in the south that were are freely available here and here whilst those for the north are accessible through Public Record of Northern Ireland’s online catalogue – see my blog post for further details 

3. Church records

The Church of Ireland, as the state church, was also a major landowner. In 1711 the Church’s ‘Board of First Fruits’ was empowered by the Crown to build churches and acccomoation for ministers on lands acquired for its use.

The Church Temporalities (Ireland) Act 1833 replaced the body with a Board of Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and introduced a right for tenants to acquire their holdings for a fixed rent. Annual reports from the Board from 1835-1869 can be consulted on the DIPPAM website.

Chris Paton is the author of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors Through Land Records, available from Pen & Sword. 

Article reproduced for an in-depth guide to Irish Land Records in the November 2021 issue of Family Tree magazine.