Thursday, January 27, 2011

SLIG 2011 ~ Irish Family History Research ~ Day 4

With the religious and civil registration records out the way, we set our sights on census and land records. By Day 4 the group was dragging a bit ~ I think many of us spent part of our evenings checking out the records discussed during the day ~ just a bit of "records overload."  I'm glad the FHL closes at 9:00 pm each evening so we can get some sleep before another day of lectures!

  • Irish Census and Census Substitutes
    • Ouimette began the day by summarizing the history of the national censuses in Ireland.  Surprisingly enough although several censuses have been taken, far fewer have been kept!
      • Nominal censuses of 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were accidentally destroyed.
      • Nominal censuses of 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 were intentionally destroyed.
      • Nominal censuses of 1901 and 1911 are available to researchers .
      • Later censuses are currently closed to the public.
    • Fragments and, in some instances, transcriptions exist for some of the "destroyed" censuses.
    • Ouimette suggested that we keep in mind that historians and researchers at the time did the same things we do today ~ review documents and abstract, transcribe and/or copy them.  Sometimes these abstracts and transcriptions are found in estate records, libraries and archives.
    • When censuses are unavailable (due to destruction) researchers need to work with census substitutes.  In this instance, Ireland has a number of census substitutes, including:
      • Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1828
      • Griffith's Valuation 1848-1864
      • Cancelled Land Books 1850s-mid 1900s
        • I had not heard of cancelled land books before and it is worth you while to check out the FamilySearch wiki on this topic to learn more about them.
      • Local Censuses and Name Lists
      • Directories
      • School Registers
    • Ouimette commented that it is necessary to take a "big picture approach" to finding out about our ancestors ~ if they did not own land, they oftentimes worked land as tenants and records exist; children attended school; individuals and businesses appeared in directories; local and church censuses were conducted ~ keep an open mind about the types of records available during your ancestor's time.
    • The FHL microfilmed the 1901 and 1911 censuses.  They are also online at the National Archives of Ireland
    • Be sure to check out the books mentioned in the Day 1 blog entry as they provide excellent background information to the censuses and census substitutes.
    • Additionally the Tracing Your (County) Ancestors series by Flyleaf Press (one for each County) offer suggestions for census substitutes available by locality.

  • Methodology for Interpreting and Evaluating Name Lists
    • Rencher explained the use of Name Lists in genealogical research.  Name lists include things like voting lists, tax rolls, school registers, church records, militia records ~ just think of the types of lists we are all on today and you will get the idea.  Rencher discussed in detail the important points to keep in mind when searching these lists: 
      • What was the purpose of the list;
      • Who prepared the list;
      • What type of information was taken; and
      • What does the list (or record) tell us
    • Rencher reminded us that oftentimes what we find in our research is an index to or a transcript of a Name List.  We need to use the index or transcript as a finding aid and take the next step to locate the original
    • Finally we need to evaluate the Name Lists ~ we need to follow these lists through time and perhaps we will be able to link individuals and/or families. 
    • While it is important to find records, Rencher reminded us that it is more important to analyze what we have found and see if it helps us solve our genealogy puzzles.
    • The class got to put into practice what we learned by working with a couple of name lists and answering questions ~ it was a great way to apply our new found knowledge and I learned a little something about Hearth Money Rolls and Householders Lists! 
    • Rencher provided us with a one page sheet entitled "Ireland Checklist of Census Substitutes."    Rencher told me that he plans to add this to the FamilySearch wiki for Irish research and mentioned that I could post it to my blog (coming soon).   Be sure to check it out ~ there are several classes of records I had not heard of before!  

  • Land Valuation Records
    • Since one of the most important classes of records in Irish research is land records, Ouimette devoted the next hour to a detailed discussion of the four main records:
      • Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1838
      • Townland and Tenement Valuation Manuscripts 1830-1864
      • Griffith's Valuation 1848-1864
      • Cancelled Land Books 1850s-mid 1900s
    • The importance of the Tithe Applotment Books is that these records list rural families in the years before the diaspora and serve as a substitute for the early censuses.  Be sure to read about the purpose and execution of these records.
    • In order to prepare Griffith's Valuation, preliminary surveying and valuating work was done (and recorded) on each property in Ireland.  These Valuation Manuscripts provide a wealth of information.  Ouimette discussed the records in detail and identified where the records are maintained.  Added bonus ~ GSU microfilmed thousands of these books and they are at the FHL!
    • Griffith's Valuation is a listing of all householders and landholders in Ireland at a particular point in time.  Supplements and updates to Griffith's have been published.  Keep in mind that this information is a snapshot which should be viewed in conjunction with the other land records information discussed.
    • Cancelled Land Books are basically the records since Griffith's Valuation (if you do any Norwegian research, it is a bit similar in idea to the farmbooks in that the original information was taken down and updated over time on the basis of the property rather than the person).  This is a great and often overlooked source of information.
      • When did a family move into an area?
      • When did a family move out of an area?
      • When did a family emigrate?
      • Who are the surrounding (cluster) families in the area?
      • Who is the major landowner in the area? ~ Perhaps there are estate papers somewhere!
    • Yet again the FHL has microfilms for most localities .  The originals are located at the Valuation Office in Dublin or at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast ~ is there a research trip in your future?
    • Ouimette reminded us to make use of the Ordnance Survey maps.  The historical maps are quite detailed, correlate with the time frame of the land records discussed in the lecture, and best of all ~ are available online.  

  • Estate, Land, and Property Records
    • I did not think I would get much out of this lecture as my ancestors were most probably tenant farmers in Ireland (or the children of tenant farmers).  Rencher surprised me at the start of his lecture by stating that "estate records are among the best sources for documenting the poorer classes in Ireland." Then he proceeded to walk us through the key points:
      • Various types of estates existed in Ireland
        • landed estates
        • crown estate
        • encumbered estates (the effect of foreclosure (it's not new!) due to various depressions)
      • The types of records maintained and relating to the estate
        • by the landowner
        • by the governing and taxing bodies
        • leases on the property
        • identification of landowners
      • Availability of records - Rencher told us that the best way to determine if records existed for our locality was to check out the Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation.  He mentioned that these records can be researched by locality.
      • Rencher gave us tips and additional resources for finding estate, land and property records.
      • He mentioned that only ten percent of the population is represented in the Registry of the Deeds.  This is one area of land records research that is quite different from American research.  It pays to spend some time learning the terminology and history of land records research in Ireland.
Four days down and one to go ~ we had learned so much but I felt I was reaching that tipping point!  Time for some fresh air, a long walk, and some caffeine.

Digital Photo by Simon Howden

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