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Registry of Deeds
After the accession to the throne of William & Mary control of land ownership by Roman Catholics was tightened. It is important historically to see this in the context of the time such measures were set. Ireland had been in turmoil since the beginning of the Cromwellian period in the 1640s. And although the country was generally much unsettled and there was much public anxiety, land ownership, whether by Protestants or Catholics, was an issue to only a tiny fraction of the population.
A system of registration of deeds began in 1708 and although it was not compulsory, it was generally held that the courts would be more favourable when issuing decrees and judgements where title had been registered. However, for those who were not wealthy enough to ever consider court proceedings the need to register was not an issue particularly as a fee was required. In addition to land deeds, marriage settlements, leases, mortgages, and wills are also found with deed registrations.
Two separate indexes exist: one to grantors (those demising (selling, mortgaging etc.) land); and one for place names town or townland)arranged by county. Streets within cities are indexes separately within the county index. The Registry of Deeds can be found in Henrietta Street, Dublin 1, Ireland. For an excellent overview of records at the Registry of Deeds, see:
Begley, Donal F., ed. "The Registry of Deeds for Genealogical Purposes." In Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder. (Family History Library book 941.5 D27i.)
Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 3rd ed. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 2006. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D27gj 2006.)
The Family History Library's microfilm copies of the registers of transcripts of Irish deeds are listed in the library's catalog under the following title:
There is currently a project to make the index to the Registry of Deeds available online. This effort is not complete, but can be searched by visiting the Registry of Deeds Indexing Project webpage.
Estate records are another valuable set of property records. Most Irish lived on large estates owned by a minority of the population. Land owners usually hired agents to keep records of transactions involving their families and/or their tenants. Estate records vary in content and duration and may include deeds, leases, rent rolls, and account books, among other records. A brief explanation of estate records is found in "Land Records" in John Grenham, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide.
There is the Landed Estates Database It has family names, assoiated Family Names, Names of estate records, Archival sources. The CONNACHT LANDED ESTATES PROJECT. This has Maps of where the estates are located (Townland, Civil Parish, Barony, County, etc.) This is a valuable website for Estate records.
To locate estate records you need to know the name of the estate owner. If you can locate your ancestor in Griffith's Primary Valuation, you may also find the name of the owner of the estate your ancestor lived on. A helpful Web site that explains what information is in Griffith's, searchable by place or surname, is found at Ask About Ireland.
Estate owners often lived away from their estates. Some lived in England. Many of the records of owners living in England have been deposited in English archives. The following sources identify some estate records and where they are deposited:
Irish Manuscripts Commission. Analecta Hibernica. Dublin: Stationery Office, 1930-. (Family History Library book 941.5 B2ah.)
Grenham, John. "County Source Lists." InTracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. (Family History Library book Ref 941.5 D27gj.)
Hayes, Richard J. Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization. (Family History Library book 941.5 A5h.) Now fully searchable online (with additions & corrections) as part of Sources.
Index to the National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United Kingdom and Ireland. (Family History Library fiche 6341118.)
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Records.Belfast, Ireland: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1924-. (Family History Library book 941.5 A5rn.)
The Family History Library's copies of estate records are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under the following headings:
IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY
IRELAND, [COUNTY] - LAND AND PROPERTY
Valuation Office Revision Books
To start a search for the Valuation Office revision books a person should first know the name of the townland where the ancestor lived. With the name of the townland it is best to use the following steps to find a microfilm number for the revision books. These records are available on microfilm from the Family History Library and family history centres for the Republic of Ireland only. Researchers should note that these records are often mistakenly referred to as 'cancelled books' or 'cancel books'.
Steps for locating Irish revision or cancel books:
- Determine which townland you will be searching (e.g. Gortnatona).
- Find the townland in the 1901 edition of General alphabetical index to the townlands and towns of Ireland (Family History Library microfilm number 865092) and write down the parish (Kilcummin), county (Kerry), Poor Law Union/ Rural District (Killarney), and District Electoral Division (Kilcummin).
- Go to www.familysearch.org and search the Family History Library Catalog by doing a Place Search for the county (Kerry) and country (Ireland).
- On the Place Details page select Ireland, County (Kerry) – Land and Property.
- On the Topic Details page select the entry for the rural district where your townland was situated, such as: “Valuation Lists for Kerry County, Killarney Rural District, 1859-1946.”
- The Title Details page will appear and show publication and other details for the record. Click on the View Film Notes button in the upper right portion of the page.
- A list of microfilms will appear.
- Select the entry for the District Electoral Division (DED) that your townland was in, such as: v. 18-19 Electoral division: Kilcummin Kilfelim is the record that should cover the townland of Gortnatona).