Ireland Land and Property

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Land records are valuable genealogical sources, because they may reveal where and when your ancestor lived and where they previously lived; family information, such as the names of children, heirs, spouse, other relatives, and neighbours; the occupation your ancestor pursued; other records that may mention your ancestor; and the progression of estate ownership or tenancy from one generation to another.[1]

Registry of Deeds[edit | edit source]

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. These records can be very helpful, especially for time periods prior to civil registration.

The Registry of Deeds is located at 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 deeds maybe obtained by visiting (or mailing to) the Registry of Deeds in Ireland or by using microfilms at the Family History Library or a Family History Center. These microfilm copies are listed in the library's catalog under the following title:

Transcripts of memorials of deeds, conveyances and wills, 1708-1929 

Indexes for the Registry of Deeds
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There several indexes to assist in finding the deeds you are interesed in.

  • Indexes made by the Registry of Deeds. This set of indexes consits of a Grantor Index as well as a Land Index. The Grantor Index lists the Grantors and one or two of the Grantees. The grantors are those demising the property (selling, mortgaging, leasing etc.) and the grantees are those who are receiving property rights. The Grantor Index does not include all of the names contained in the memoral of the deed. The Land Index is a list memorials by each place (city, town or townland) which are arranged by county or barony.
  • Will Indexes for the Registry of Deeds. There are two indexes that provide the memorial index information for each testator whose will is contained in the registry. There are also indexes which contain abstracts of each will in the registry. These can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by clicking on Wills in the Registry of Deeds.
  • Online Index. Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland has indexed over 200,000 deeds or memorials in the registry. While this index is not complete, it continues to grow. The advantage of this index is it is the only index where you can search for any person mentioned in a deed; no matter what a person’s role is in a memorial. Each index record gives the names of each person mentioned in the deed as well as any relationships that are stated. It also mentions the type of memorial, i.e. lease, marriage settlement, mortgage, etc. The only drawback is that the index is not complete, but it continues to grow. It is a good place to begin a search of the deeds.

Estate Records[edit | edit source]

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, associated 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.[1] 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:



Valuation Office Revision Books[edit | edit source]

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'.

These records have been digitized and are now online at (the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland). After clicking the above link and reading the introduction, click the magnifying glass at the right of the screen with the words "Search Valuation Revision Books."

Steps for locating Irish revision or cancel books:

  1. Determine which townland you will be searching (e.g. Gortnatona).
  2. 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).
  3. Go to and search the FamilySearch Catalog by doing a Place Search for the county (Kerry) and country (Ireland).
  4. On the Place Details page select Ireland, County (Kerry) – Land and Property.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. A list of microfilms will appear.
  8. 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).

Web Sites[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research outline: Ireland. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2000.