If you know the townland your ancestor lived; you are ready to seek the landlord’s estate papers. These are the estate’s private business papers. Many survive, documenting the tenants through leases and rent books. However, the big hurdle is in identifying the landlord so that the correct estate records can be examined.
Start with Griffith’s Primary Valuation (1847-64) which can be found online in numerous places such as: www.askaboutireland.ie The “Immediate Lessor” column means the landlord for the property your ancestor lived on. Remember, a landlord is not necessarily a land owner. The landlord may lease, sub-lease or have a rent agreement with the land owner. If you see the word “In Fee” then you know that is the owner. A title such as Sir, Baronet, Marquis, Lady or Lord also gives an indication you are on the right track.
About 25% of the estates went through the Incumbered (Encumbered) Estates Court. The sales for these bankrupt estates are online: www.findmypast.ie in the collection “Landed Estates Court Rentals, 1850-1885.” You may discover the land owner listed in Griffith’s purchased the townland through an auction, and is not the one you are interested in.
Always compare your findings with the Tithe Applotment (1823-37); indexed online at: www.ancestry.com This source may provide the major lease holder or the owner’s name. However, just be aware townland boundaries and names did not necessarily correspond with the later Griffith’s.
Also, use the Registry of Deeds which begin in 1708, and are on microfilm at the Family History Library: www.familysearch.org There is a place name index and you can access every registered deed for a particular townland.
Always ask yourself if you have the correct landlord or if there were a series of them. This question alone will affect the direction your research takes.
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