In most countries, tax records are difficult to locate, are rarely indexed, and give limited information. They are usually searched only after other sources have been exhausted. However, because so many Irish records (including tax records) were lost in 1922 when the Public Records Office burned, surviving tax records are particularly significant to Irish research.
Tax records are useful in Irish research because they reveal an individual's place of residence at a given time. As mentioned, knowing place and date of residence is extremely helpful in Irish research.
Irish tax records fall into two classes: pre- and post-1661 records. Pre-1661 records are of taxes created under the English feudal system and extracted by the crown. Post-1661 records are of taxes assessed and extracted by the local districts.
Many types of Irish taxes were assessed prior to the nineteenth century. The most important Irish tax records, however, are Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation. Both are nineteenth-century sources and serve, to some extent, as census substitutes. Both are extremely useful in locating people and identifying the townland and parish in which they lived. Griffith's Primary Valuation can also be used to determine names of estate owners, making it possible to access estate records (see the "Land and Property" section of this outline).
Initiated in 1662, the Hearth Tax was collected and recorded on Hearth Money Rolls within the Court of the Exchequer. They were collected throughout the decade of the 1660's as a result of the Hearth Money Act of 1662 and additional amending legislation. The basis for the tax was the number of hearths in each household, therefore they cross the economic social classes. This tax led to the open hearth architecture in Irish cottages where there was intentionally no hearth built and the fire was placed on the floor directly below the chimney.
The rolls were enumerated by parish and usually record the name of the head of the household, the number of hearths, and the amount of the tax levied.
The Hearth Money Rolls for Northern Ireland were transcribed primarily by Tenison Groves. Copies of his transcripts are available in the Family History Library collection. A few surviving copies are also available for counties in the Republic of Ireland, namely for counties Dublin (1663), Louth (1664), Sligo (1662), Tipperary (1666-1668), and Wicklow (1669).
Tithe Applotment Books
The tithe was a land-based tax exacted from rural Ireland between 1823 and 1837. The tax did not apply to inhabitants of the cities or larger towns. Though taken from people of all faiths, the tithe was used to support the Church of Ireland in rural areas. Tithe Applotment books record the name of the head of the household and the value of the property.
Griffith's Primary Valuation
Between 1848 and 1864, a valuation, called Griffith's Primary Valuation, was made of taxable property in every parish in Ireland. The valuation records list the name of the head of the household, the name of the landowner, the acreage of the plot, the value of the property, and the amount of tax assessed. The tax based on the property valuation was used to support the poor.
After the primary valuation, later valuations were made throughout Ireland approximately every decade. Changes in ownership or tenancy as well as the types of information recorded in the original valuation (name of the head of the household, name of the landowner, acreage, and property value) were noted in the valuation books.
For more information on Tithe Applotment records, Griffith's Primary Valuation, and other valuation sources, see:
Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 3rd ed. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 2006. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27gj 2006.)
McCarthy, Tony. "Twelve Major Sources." The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin, Ireland: Lilliput Press, 1991. (FHL book 941.5 D27mt.)
For more information about Irish taxes and surviving tax records, see:
Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 vols. Evanston, Illinois: Margaret Dickson Falley, 1961-62. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27f, 2 vols.)
The Family History Library's copies of Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:
IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY
Other valuation records are listed in the Place Search under:
IRELAND, [COUNTY] - LAND AND PROPERTY
The library's other taxation records are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under the following headings:
IRELAND - TAXATION
IRELAND, [COUNTY] - TAXATION
IRELAND, [COUNTY], [TOWN or PARISH] - TAXATION
The following work was compiled by the staff at the National Library in Dublin, Ireland, and is available at the Family History Library. Arranged by county, this index lists surnames found in the Tithe Applotment Records and in Griffith's Valuation:
An Index of Surnames of Householders in Griffith's Primary Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books. 14 vols. Typescript. Dublin, Ireland: National Library, 1960-70. (FHL book Ref 941.5 R22i, 14 vols.; film 919,001-7.) This work is often referred to as the Householders Index.
A brief aid produced by the Family History Library, The Ireland Householders Index (item 34070), contains step-by-step instructions on how to use the Householders Index and its corresponding records. This aid is available at the library and through Family History Centers.
The Irish Land Commission (dissolved in 1992) produced an index to the Tithe Applotment records for the counties in Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland, Public Record Office, Land Commission Archive index. This index is listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:
IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
Several indexes, by full name, to the Griffith's Primary Valuation records for specific counties have also been compiled and are available on microfiche at the Family History Library. These indexes cannot be circulated to Family History Centers. The indexes are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:
IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY - INDEXES
Tithe Applotment Books:
- Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) - Archives (not available online)
- The National Archives of Ireland - Microfilm
- "Genealogy.com" - subscription service
Griffith's Primary Valuation:
- "Ask About Ireland" - free search and display of summary information, "field book" manuscript entries and survey maps
- The National Archives of Ireland - Microfiche available in reading room
- "Irish Times" - fee-based service
- "From-Ireland.net" - background information