Small Sources 34. This is a list of 59 boys and 21 girls attending Townavilly (alias Tawnawully or Tawnawilly) tenantry school in 1st May 1849. The lists are among the papers of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, which are in the National Library of Ireland – Ms 17,960 (3). The Commissioners were set up in 1813 to manage ‘endowed’ schools, i.e. those that were funded by means of rent from lands they owned. A small number of schools owned such estates, either as a result of charitable donations, or ancient land-grants from the crown. One such was Raphoe Royal School, originally established in Donegal town in 1618, but moved to Raphoe in the 1680s. It still exists as the Royal & Prior Comprehensive School. This blog concerns a separate ‘tenantry school’ established by the Commissioners for the children of tenants on their land. These lands were in Townavilly or Tawnawully, which is a District Electoral Division situated Northwest of Donegal Town and containing 14 townlands. During the 1840s, which was the decade of the Great Famine, the relatively poor land was non-productive and little income was received from the estate. There were around 200 households on the estate at this time. The Annual Report of the Commissioners for 1848-49 notes that they had “… expended large sums in giving employment to tenantry, in squaring the farms, in building and establishing a school for them”. However, they also reported that “ …we regret to be obliged to report that the lawless spirit which so long prevailed in this mountainous district .. has again exhibited itself ….. we have determined to put at the disposal (of the agent) a sum of money by which he may assist in enabling such of the tenantry to emigrate as it is desirable to be removed from the estate”. Their 1849-50 report further states that “… we have felt ourselves coerced, by the peculiarities of the estate and the tenantry resident thereon, to … assist several families in emigrating to America…. And we have further to state that a large number of children continue to receive gratuitous instruction at a school established for us for their benefit”. Their report of 1853/4 seems to suggest that their efforts were successful as they note that the estate ‘.… long in an almost hopeless condition, appears now to hold out a prospect of improvement’. It is not clear which of the children and their families emigrated as a result of the above inducements. A search of the 1901 census found 13 men with the same names still living in the area. These are listed below with their townland of residence and their age in 1901. It is a reasonable presumption that at least the younger of these are the same people. Based on their ages in 1901, they would have been aged between 9 and 19 when attending the school in 1849. Read More
Category Archives: General Genealogy News
Flyleaf Press have published ‘Tracing your Leitrim Ancestors’ by Tom Coughlan. It is a comprehensive guide to research on the families of county Leitrim, Ireland. It sets out the records available, where they can be accessed both on-line and in archives, and how the available records can be used to best effect in genealogical or family history research. It is fully indexed, richly illustrated with examples of the records available, and contains links to a wide range of on-line resources. It can by purchased from here.
Tom Coughlan is a professional genealogist with a Diploma in Genealogy and Family History from University College Dublin and significant experience in conducting family history research for international clients. Although he has conducted research in almost every Irish county, his primary interest is Co. Leitrim where his own family roots lie, and where he now lives. In addition to research, Tom has presented genealogy courses and lectures; published articles on family history; and is a member of the expert team which provides genealogy advice to visitors to the National Library of Ireland. He is also engaged in a long-term, wide-ranging study of aspects of Leitrim’s genealogical story. Read More
Small Sources 33: This is a small rental of the O’Brien estate in Newmarket Town and surrounding townlands in County Clare in 1738. The original is a small soft-cover rental document in the Inchiquin Papers which are in the National Library of Ireland (NLI Ms 14,431). The rental lists tenant’s name; denomination (i.e. the property rented); the rent for half-year ending November 1738; receipts; and allowances. As is not uncommon in rentals, some receipts are made up of several payments, and some of these are credits for payments made by the tenant for work or supplies. Although only 17 properties are listed, the document refers to 27 persons. The additional people are those referenced in the payments made by the tenants which are credited as part-payment of the rent. Presumably these payments were due to be made by the landlord (Sir Edward O’Brien) but were made by the tenant on his behalf. The denomination or property is indicated in brackets below. Tenement in this context is another word for ‘holding’ and does not have the modern meaning. Read More
Just a reminder that we have posted over 30 blogs with original records not otherwise available on-line. These are in our ‘Small Sources’ series which lists almost 3,400 individuals from 12 counties. These lists are items we have found among manuscript sources during our research. Most are too small to be included in the big data-sets being put on-line by the major companies, but must nevertheless be useful to some of you out there. Read More
Small Sources 32: Below is a list of 18 tenants of the Colclough estate in the townlands of Curraduff (probably the townland now spelt Coorduff) and Ballycreen (also called Boolycreen or Boolygreen) in the parish of St Mary’s Newtownbarry, Co. Wexford. Read More
If you think Irish research is already too complicated, look away now! As you are aware, on-line access to the 1901 and 1911 census returns has been one of the great developments in Irish genealogy. However, perhaps you are one of those who have not been able to find your family on the census? Read More
Small Sources 17: This document lists 71 tenants on 57 holdings on the estates of Hon. Francis Prittie (Lord Dunalley) during March and May 1826. Note that some are in joint tenancies. It indicates the townland, rent and arrears for each (only the rent amount is shown here). The list is in the ”Dunalley Papers, of the Prittie family Lords Dunalley, 1665-1937” in the National Library of Ireland; NLI Ms 29,808 (2). Read More
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.
Small Sources 28: This little list of 14 labourers working on the farm of the Hart family of Kilderry House, near Muff, Co. Donegal in 1758 and 1759 is in the National Library of Ireland Ms. 7885. It is interesting for several reasons, not least being that Donegal records are rare, particularly for the 18th century, and lists of labourers are even rarer. In the book ‘The Hart family of Donegal’ by Henry Travers Hart, the author notes that in this period “the whole of the fields were rigidly cultivated by a staff of labourers … and by this means Kilderry House was rendered more tenantable on account of the better drainage of the soil..”. It also notes that there were large numbers of labourers employed, so why these 14 are specifically cited in the records is not clear. It may be that they were only occasional workers. The records show that they were paid for around 60 days within a 6-month period.
The list is notable secondly for the occurrence of some interesting names. The forename Tadgh (pronounced teig; or hear its pronunciation here) is not uncommon in Ireland. Tadhg Furlong is one of the current heroes of the Irish Rugby team, for instance. However, it is usually converted to Timothy in older records. Its popularity in some parts of Northern Ireland led to the name (rendered as Taig) being used as a pejorative term for Catholics. The other unusual name is Nahor or Naher (spelt Knogher in this record). A Knogher Dogherty is also listed among the tenants of the estate. This name is very specific to Donegal. For instance, in the 1901 census there are only 14 persons of this name recorded, all of them in the Northern counties and 11 in Donegal. An identical name, of Biblical origin is sometimes found in non-Irish records, but is not related.