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1552 Office of Arms founded - Office of Arms


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The Office of Arms was founded in Dublin in 1552, making it Ireland’s oldest office of state. Following Irish independence in 1922 the Office of Arms remained under British control. The Irish government did not take over responsibility for the Office of Arms until 1943. It was then renamed the Genealogical Office. The Genealogical Office is now in Kildare Street and forms part of the National Library of Ireland. It has a vast collection of records of interest to genealogists, including will abstracts, pedigrees and lists of freeholders, many of which have now been copied on to microfilm. The Genealogical Office used to carry out commissioned genealogical research, but this service has now been discontinued.

 

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1660 - Hearth Money Rolls


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In the 1660s the government introduced a tax on hearths as a means of raising revenue. The returns, arranged by parish and usually with townland locations, list the names of all householders paying this tax survive for half the counties in Ireland with coverage most complete in Ulster (in full or in part for all counties except Down).

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1659 ‘census’ compiled - 1659 census


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The so-called ‘census’ of 1659 contains only the names of those with title to land (tituladoes) and the total number of English and Irish resident in each townland (Scots were usually counted with English). An edition of the census by Seamus Pender was published in 1939 by the Stationery Office, Dublin, on behalf of the Irish Manuscripts Commission. This includes a breakdown of the figures for each county and an index of both personal names and place names.

 

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1708 - Registry of Deeds established in Dublin


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In 1708 the Registry of Deeds was established in Dublin as a repository for all kinds of documents relating to the legal transfer of title to land. To begin with the Registry was principally used by middle and upper class members of the Church of Ireland, though this does not mean that persons of other denominations and from further down the social scale will find no mention in it. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the Registry was being much more widely used and by 1832 more than 500,000 deeds had been registered there. There are two indexes. The first is an index of the grantors? names, the second a place name index. Both can be used in the course of research.

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1737 Belfast News Letter founded - Newspapers


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Newspapers can provide vital genealogical information in their notices of births, marriages and deaths. In addition, news items can add colour to the lives of people from yesteryear. The Belfast News Letter was first published in 1737 and is still in circulation. A pre-1800 index of births, marriages and deaths recorded in the newspaper has been compiled and is available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. In addition a complete index of surviving pre-1800 editions has also been compiled. It is available on microfiche in the Linen hall Library in Belfast and also on the internet. A card index of births, marriages and deaths listed in the Belfast News Letter between 1800 and 1864 is also available in the Linen hall Library. Other newspapers in Northern Ireland have been partly indexed. Check with local libraries for further details.

 

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1740 - 'Census of Protestant householders'


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What has generally been termed a 'census of Protestant householders' survives in copy form for parts of Ulster from 1740. It has recently been suggested that in reality this is probably a hearth money roll. Coverage is best for counties Antrim and Londonderry. It is arranged by parish with townlands only occasionally given. Only the names of householders (some 14,000 in total) are given.

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1766 - Religious census


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In 1766 Church of Ireland ministers were instructed by the government to compile lists of householders in their respective parishes, indicating in each case the religion of the householders. Returns survive from a significant number of parishes in Ulster, though many of these contain only statistical data and do not include the names of individuals.

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1796 - Flaxgrowers' List


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In 1796 as part of a government initiative to encourage the linen industry in Ireland, free spinning wheels or looms were granted to farmers who planted a certain acreage of their holdings with flax. The names of over 56,000 recipients of these awards have survived in printed form arranged by county and parish. An index covering the whole of Ireland is available on microfiche in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland under MF/7/1.

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1823 - Passing of Tithe Composition Act


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In 1823 the Composition Act was passed which stipulated that henceforth all tithes due to the Established Church, the Church of Ireland, were to be paid in money rather than in kind as they previously could have been. This necessitated a complete valuation of all tithable land in Ireland, the results of which are contained in manuscript form in the tithe applotment books arranged by parish. Copies of these for Northern Ireland are available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. The tithe applotment books contain the name of the tithe-payer, the size of his farm and the amount of tithe he paid.

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Wills and testamentary papers


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Virtually all original wills probated before 1900 in what is now Northern Ireland were destroyed in Dublin in 1922. From 1858 we have the will books kept by each district registry which contain transcripts of the original wills. These are available on microfilm in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. A handwritten index for the whole of Ireland is available for the period 1858-77. Before 1858 the administration of testamentary papers was regulated by the Church of Ireland. Will indexes survive for each of the dioceses in Ulster, some of which have been published.

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1838 Poor Law in Ireland - Board of Guardians records


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In 1838 the Poor Law was introduced to Ireland. As a result of this the country was divided into 137 poor law unions each of which was usually centred on a market town. Here a workhouse was built. The management of the workhouses was the responsibility of the Boards of Guardians composed of elected representatives of the ratepayers in each union, together with ex officio members including Justices of the Peace. The records generated by the Boards of Guardians form a vast and largely underused source of genealogical information. Of particular importance are the indoor registers of the workhouse, the outdoor relief registers, dispensary records and records of births in the workhouse. Surviving Boards of Guardians records for Northern Ireland are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

 

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Civil Registration


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Civil registration of all births, deaths and marriages did not commence in Ireland until 1864. Non-Catholic marriages are registered from 1 April 1845. Before these dates one is dependent on local parish registers for information relating to family history. However, only a relatively small number of these survive from before 1800.

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1830s - First Valuation or Townland Valuation


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The First valuation or Townland Valuation was compiled in the 1830s. It is of more limited value to the genealogist, especially for rural areas, as it is more concerned with land use and value. It does, however, record all houses valued at £3 or more (this was later raised to £5 or more) as well as the name of the head of each of these households. The information is contained in fieldbooks arranged by parish. These are available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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1848-64 - Griffiths Valuation


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A valuation of all properties in Ireland was started in Co. Dublin in 1847 and completed in counties Armagh and Down in 1864. A summary version of this valuation, known as the Primary Valuation or more popularly as Griffith?s Valuation after Sir Richard Griffith, the man appointed Commissioner of Valuation, was published in some 200 volumes arranged by poor law union. In addition to the names of householders and landholders the valuation also provides the name of the person from whom the property was leased ? the ?immediate lessor?, a description of the property, its acreage and the valuation of both the land and the buildings. From 1864 the valuation revision books detail changes in occupancy of the properties. Griffith?s Valuation and the valuation revision books are available for Northern Ireland in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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1898 Local government act for Ireland - Local government records


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In 1898 the Local Government (Ireland) Act was passed. It established county councils, urban district councils and rural district councils across Ireland. These took over responsibility for local administration from grand juries and town commissioners. The records generated by local government in Northern Ireland are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. These form a vast and generally underused source of information for genealogists. Also included among this collection are earlier records of local administration such as the minute books kept by town commissioners. In 1973 the councils created by the 1898 act were abolished and new district councils established across Northern Ireland.

 

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1867 Public Record Office of Ireland established - Public Record Office of Ireland


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In 1867 The Public Records (Ireland) Act was passed. The Public Record Office of Ireland was founded as a result of this. The records were housed in a large building in the Four Courts complex in Dublin. In 1922 at the start of the Irish Civil War this building was destroyed with the loss of virtually all its records. Among the more serious losses for genealogists were virtually all pre-1900 wills, census returns 1821-51 and over 1,000 Church of Ireland parish registers. A new Public Record Office of Ireland was created in the aftermath of this. The National Archives was established on 1 June 1988. It is an amalgamation of the Public Record Office of Ireland and the State Paper Office (founded in 1702). Most of the records are housed in custom-built premises in Bishop Street, Dublin.

 

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1901 - earliest surviving census for the whole of Ireland


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The earliest surviving complete census covering the whole of Ireland dates only from 1901. Earlier censuses were either completely or almost completely destroyed. The 1901 census provides the names of all individuals living in Ireland at that time. It is arranged by household, townland, electoral division and county. The 1901 and 1911 censuses for the whole of Ireland are available in the National Archives in Dublin. Microfilm copies of the 1901 census can be viewed in PRONI. Indexes are available for counties Fermanagh and Tyrone on microfiche in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

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Freeholders


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For most of the eighteenth century only Protestant men who possessed what was known as a 40 shilling freehold were permitted to vote in parliament elections. In 1793 the law was changed to allow Catholic freeholders the right to vote as well. In the nineteenth century the qualifications for voting were revised on a number of occasions. Lists of freeholders, particularly from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have survived for parts of Ulster and are particularly good for counties Armagh and Down.

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