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Ancestor Network Blog

birr-reformation3

Catholic men of Birr, Kings County 1834

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Small Sources 30:  Useful records are created in all sorts of strange circumstances, and none are more unique than this one. In the 1820s a new priest, Michael Crotty was appointed to the Catholic parish of Birr, in King’s County (now Offaly).  The town was then called Parsonstown.  He turned out to be a difficult and divisive person who fell out with his bishop and the other priests of the parish.  However, he was also a charismatic and popular priest who gradually lead a significant proportion of his congregation (reportedly about 6,000) away from the Catholic Church into a separate church and attempted to take control of the parish church building.  There followed a bitter dispute between Crotty’s faction and the remaining members of the congregation that lasted several years. The dispute involved legal proceedings, military interventions and verbal and physical battles over access to the church. The breakaway congregation eventually merged with the local Presbyterian church, but almost all later drifted back to the Catholic Church and Michael Crotty eventually became an Anglican clergyman in England. Accounts of the so-called ‘Birr Reformation’ are widely available, including a book written by Michael Crotty himself which can be read on-line. Read More

Workmens'  accounts book from Doneraile Papers:  1839 -  1840.  NLI Ms. 19, 726

Labourers in Doneraile, Cork in 1839/40

By | Genealogy Research, General Genealogy News | One Comment
Small Sources 29.   This list shows Labourers on the Doneraile Estate in Cork in 1839/40. It includes 21 men, 2 boys and 1 woman.    The names were extracted from a document among the Doneraile Papers  in the National Library of Ireland entitled “Workmen’s accounts book, 18 May 1839 -25 Apr. 1840”  (Ms. 19,726) which shows the dates worked and payments made to each worker.  Our female readers may be interested to know that the payment for the solitary female worker, Johanna Glynn,  was 6 pence per day, whereas the men were paid 10 pence and even the boys received 6.5 pence per day.   These were the permanent workers on the estate.  This can be determined by the fact that most also appear in an 1847  Valuation of Doneraile town as residents of Mallow lane.  This document, a House Book compiled during the Valuation of Doneraile Town can be accessed on the Find My Past website.  The page of the Valuation contains a note ‘This is the South side of Mallow Lane, Lord Doneraile’s workers’ and it is also noted that the workers paid no rent. The estate had leases on many properties in Doneraile town and this line of cottages was apparently allocated to the workers.   The date of this valuation is also significant as it shows that all of these workers survived the Great Famine which lasted from 1845-1847.

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Grand Jury Presentments

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Extract from the Grand Jury Presentment for the City of Dublin 1806/7.

                                               Extract from Grand Jury Presentment of Dublin City 1806/07.

The relative shortage of Irish sources makes every record linking a name to a place useful. One of the obscure sources which can be used are the Grand Jury Presentments. Grand Juries were the forerunners of the modern County Councils. They were a panel of major landowners established in each county to make decisions on legal and other matters.  Although originally responsible only for the Justice system, but this was gradually expanded to commissioning of local public works, i.e. building of roads and bridges, and maintenance of public buildings (infirmaries, courthouses, jails etc). It funded these works by means of a county tax on land, known as a cess or ‘rates’. Catholics could not legally serve on grand juries until 1793, and even after this date the jury lists were still predominantly Protestant. They met in spring and summer, just after the regular Assizes (local court) sessions. In these sessions they would hear ‘presentments’, i.e. proposals for grants for the construction or maintenance of roads and bridges etc;  and they would also hear consider and approve payments to public officials for services rendered. The family history relevance of these documents  is that (a)  the proposals usually include the names of proposed contractors and (in some counties) the names of the persons providing services (see example from Dublin above) ; and (b)  on occasion, they specify the work to be done by reference to the property of individuals. For example ‘to build a bridge over the river Lingane at Maurice Shea’s house’ or ‘to repair .. the mail coach road.. between Timothy Duggan’s ditch and Thomas Butler’s gate, all in the townland of Ballydrihid’ (Both from Limerick Grand Jury Presentments of  1831).  These references usually include not only approved projects,  but also those proposed, but not approved, for funding.

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