Small Sources 61: This is a list of 112 tenants from a ledger among the DeVesci Papers in the National Library of Ireland (NLI Ms. 34,492). The index is a long (approx 14 x 50cm) book (see picture above right) which is listed in the NLI catalogue as “a larger folio rent ledger for DeVesci Co Laois estate”. The extensive DeVesci estate papers in NLI detail the properties and transactions of the family in several parts of Ireland. The estate was managed from Abbeyleix House, where the DeVesci family resided. Figure 1 below shows the index to the ‘J’ names from the rental ledger. Note that the index shows only the tenant name and the page(s) on which the account of each tenant may be found in a separate larger ledger. Some tenants have 2 page references in the index. This is because the accounts of long-term tenants will use up a page and a second page is required to continue their account. Hence there are several pages indicated for some tenants. The index does not usually provide a location for the holdings (although a few do) but the detailed accounts will each show a specific location for the holdings of most. All of the places identified are in the Civil Parish of Abbeyleix in Queen’s County (now County Laois).
An example of a tenant account is in Figs 2 and 3 at the end of the blog. These accounts are in the Debit/Contra format (see our blog on Rentals for an explanation). Figure 2 shows the Debit side of the account of Joseph Cass, who held over 44 acres in the townland of Ballymadock for an annual rent of £31.8s. 3d during the years 1775 to 1777. The family were still there in the 1901 census. The Contra side of the account (Figure 3) shows the payments made. In this case the payments are mainly in cash, but it is not unusual for the entire rent to be paid in the form of labour or other services.
For a flavour of the great divide in lifestyles between landlords and their tenants is in our blog entitled ‘Eye-witnesses to our ancestors‘ which summarises the accounts of travellers to Ireland in the period covered by this document. There are some interesting and unusual family names within the list:
- Doxey: including the wonderfully named Hercules Doxey. This family were in the county from 1684, when a will for a previous Hercules Doxey is recorded. No Doxeys ere recorded in Ireland in 1901 census.
- Clegston: there are 5 Clegstons listed in this rental but the name only occurs in Wexford in other records
- Cruite: this name is found in Kilkenny but not usually in this county.
- Haslam: this name is rare, but very much associated with Laois and Offaly
- Sutliff or Sutcliff: also rare but mainly found in Tipperary and Kilkenny. None were recorded in the county in 1901 census.
- Dior is more usually spelled Dier or Dyer and may be a variant of either Dwyer or Dever;
- Justin is also rare in Ireland but most are found in this county.
Among the locally common names are Delany, Phelan, Lalor (or Lawlor) and Fitzpatrick, which is the only ‘Fitz’ name of Gaelic origin. It is very numerous in the county and the clan was originally chief of this territory. Some common abbreviations of first names are used, such as Jonan. = Jonathan, Jno. = John; Jas. = James; Edwd. = Edward; Thos. = Thomas; Patt = Patrick; Wm. = William; and Richd. = Richard. Ancestor Network publish ‘Sources for Irish Family History‘ (cover above) – details here which lists books, articles and other sources providing accounts and histories of specific Irish families.
Some distinctive Irish first names also occur such as Kiron (usually spelled Kieran), and Darby (Dermot). Another blog in this series lists local residents buying Indian meal from the DeVesci estate. A further blog lists labourers and tradesmen on the neighbouring Heywood estate, also in Queen’s county.
The images of the document above and below were created by Ancestor Network in the National Library of Ireland and are reproduced here through their courtesy. Ancestor Network will offer 1 free hour of research by a professional researcher to conduct further research on these individuals, or on other tenants of this estate. As can be seen from Figs 2 and 3, there is further information on these tenants in the detailed accounts. We can also obtain images of the original documents. Click here and quote ‘LaoisSS61’ in the subject line.
Tenant Name (comments added by author)
Bacon, James & Partners (James Bacon was the lead tenant in a consortium – see or Rentals blog)
Bruton, Arthur See Sheerin
Cass, Joseph (see account in Figs. 2 and 3)
Clegston, John Aghatee (the location of Aghatee could not be found)
Clegston, John to the lands of Toher (the location of Toher is uncertain)
Clegston, Jane & George
Dunne, Wm. now Saml. and Hercules Doxey
Doxey, Saml. & Hercules
Fitzpatrick, Darby & Delany
Galbraith, George ..To Poorman’s Bridge & Hatters farm (Poorman’s Bridge is townland near Abbeyleix)
Galbrath, George to sundry farms
Graves, Barth., formerly Everitt
Graves, Ed Andrew
Horahon, Kiron & Partners (Kiron Horahon was the lead tenant in a consortium – see our Rentals blog)
Justin, Richd. Jur.
Lawrenson, Robt. & Edward (will of Robert Lawrenson of Rathmoyle, near Abbeyleix proved in 1794)
Parnell Snr. John
Phelan, John Hatter
Phelan, John & Patt, Hatters (probably refer to a holding previously held by a person called Hatter)
Phelan, John Whitley
Sheerin and Arthur Bruton
Walsh, Mary Widow
Warren, Thomas & John
Wilde, Thomas & Justin Senior
Wilde Thomas Junr.
Wybrants, Stephen Esq. (‘Esq.’ suggests this person is a gentleman of standing)
Some of the articles in our series on Irish Family History sources:
- Petty Sessions – the records of local courts
- Catholic Church records
- Grand Jury Presentments – records of local councils on payments for public works and staff
- Rentals – management of tenants by estates and the records created
- Middle names – the use (or non-use) of second or middle names in Irish records
- How comprehensive are Irish Civil Records?
- Census returns in Gaelic or Irish language
- 50+ blogs containing original family history material extracted from Irish manuscripts