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Labourers in Muff, Co. Donegal in 1758 & 1759.

NLI Ms. 7885 Rental and accounts of the Hart family of Kilderry, Co. Donegal, 1757-1767 and 1796-1803.

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.

Other surnames listed which are almost exclusively found in Donegal are:

  • McKeeney: this is almost only found (using this spelling) in Donegal although the spelling McKeany is found in Fermanagh.
  • Crampshy or Cramshy (usually now spelt Crampsie or Crampsy) is found only in the Northwestern counties and mainly in Donegal.
  • Loag (now usually Logue) which is also almost exclusively found in the Northwestern counties, particularly Donegal.

Ancestor Network will offer 1 free hour of research by a professional researcher to conduct further research on these individuals, or on the lists of tenants of the estate of which there are around 150 for the period 1750-59.  We can also obtain images of the original documents. Click here and quote ‘Donegal SS28’ in the subject line.    We also publish ‘A Guide to Tracing your Donegal Ancestors‘ by local historian Helen Meehan.

The list of labourers is below and is headed:  Labourers May 22nd 1759 till November 1st 1759.  There are similar lists (same individuals) in 1758.

Teague Cramshy    (Crampshy in one list)
Neal Loag
Patrick Dowey
Patrick Cain              (usually spelt Kane)
Cornel. Dogherty     (Cornelius;  surname is usually spelt Doherty)
Wm Coyle
John Harley
James Feeny
John Murray
James Doogan
Knogher McKeeny
Wm. McKeeny
Donald Dogherty
Charles McKeeny

Tracing_Your_Donegal_Ancestors_V2

Click here to buy a copy of “A Guide to Tracing your Donegal Ancestors”  published by Flyleaf Press

About Jim Ryan

Dr Jim Ryan is a writer and publisher on Irish genealogy. His book ‘Irish Records’ (Ancestry Inc., now Turner Publishing) is a standard guide. His other books include: Tracing your Dublin Ancestors (Flyleaf Press 2009); Irish Church Records (Flyleaf 2001); Sources for Irish Family History (Flyleaf 2001), and Tracing Sligo Ancestors (Flyleaf 2012). He has lectured extensively at genealogy meetings and his research interests include church records and Rentals. He writes blogs and articles for In-Depth Genealogist (http://theindepthgenealogist.com), and also a blog for www.flyleafpress.ie.

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