Small Sources 68:  This is a list of 102 tenants and tradesmen employed by the DeVesci Estate in the Civil Parish of Abbeyleix, Queen’s County (Co. Laois) between 1786 and 1800. The names listed are all from the index to an account book which is among the DeVesci Papers in the National Library of Ireland (Ms. 34,409). The file also includes several other loose lists of tenants and workers which may form the basis of a future blog.  As this is the index, each name is followed by a reference to the page(s) for the account of each person (see an example at the end of this blog).  As is typical on many Irish estates, the tenants worked for the landlord and received their wages and housing in return.   The accounts are arranged in the classic Debit/Contra style as described in our blog on Rentals.   We have also published a blog on the tradesmen working on the Heywood estate in this county in 1794.

The extensive  DeVesci estate papers are in the National Library of Ireland and detail their properties and related transactions in several parts of Ireland.   In Abbeyleix,  the family residence was  Abbeyleix House, see illustration above,  which is now privately owned and has been lavishly restored (see details here).    This  list of tenants would have been compiled in the estate office associated with this house.  The people listed below worked and/or were tenants in this area.

There are some interesting and unusual family names within the list:  Dior  is more also spelled Dier or Dyer and may be a variant of either Dwyer or Dever;  Henshew appears to be a variant of Henshaw and is also very rare according to John Grenham’s website;    HeacockKeravan, Orp and McAboy are also very rare and the latter had only 5 occurrences in Griffith Valuation.    The name Justin is also rare in Ireland but most individuals of this name are found in this county.        Among the common names are Fitzpatrick, which is the only ‘Fitz’ name of Gaelic origin.  It is very numerous in the county and the clan was originally chiefs of this territory.  Delany, Dooly, Phelan, Tierney  and Tynan are  also   common local names.  Killfoyle is a variant of Guilfoyle, which is also relatively common in the county. Our title ‘Sources for Irish Family History‘ provides lists of books and articles on many Irish families.

Some common abbreviations are used,  such as Robt. = Robert;  Jo. or Jno. = John; Jams. = James; Edwd. = Edward;  Thos. = Thomas;  Patt = Patrick; Abr = Abraham; Richd. = Richard;  and Saml = Samuel.  There is also the less common Gart. which is probably Garret.  Some distinctive Irish names also occur such as Keran (usually Kieran).  Kavan (Kevin); and Darby (Dermot).

The images of the document above and below were created by Ancestor Network in the National Library of Ireland and a 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.     We can also obtain images of the original documents. Click  here and quote ‘LaoisSS68’ in the subject line

Tenant/Tradesman Name         (notes in italic are added)

Bergin, Keran                (This is  a variant of Kieran or Ciaran, a common Irish first name)
Duan, Will
Doyl, Peter                     (usually written Doyle)
Dooly, Lar.                     (‘Lar.’ is probably a variant of Laurence / Larry) 
Dobbs, Jo.
Delany, ?est
Daly, Charles
Dooly, Henry
Dior, Henry                                    (a variant of Dier – see above)
Darcy, Kavan?                              (perhaps a variant of Kevin) 
Delany, Nick
Dior, Robt.                                     (a variant of Dier – see above)
Dobbs, Joseph,  Steward             (i.e. land-steward – the person who managed the estate for the landlord) 
Donaly, Edwd.                              (more usually spelled Donnelly) 
Duan, Tom                                    (more usually spelled Duane)
Delany, Thos.

The list of  ‘D’ names in the index. The numbers on the right refer to the page(s) on which the tenant’s accounts can be found (see an example below). Longer-term tenants have accounts at several places in the ledger.

FitzPatrick Mick                     (A common local name)
FitzPatrick Darby
FitzPatrick Mal?
FitzPatrick Bryan
Fegan, James
FitzPatrick, Denis
FitzPatrick, Gart.                     (possibly an abbreviation of Garret) 
Foster, Richd.
FitzPatrick, Edward
Foster, Robt.
Ging, Will
Gough, Will
Hand, Will
Holahan, Keran  Branra      (Now Brandra,  a townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Hogan, Will                               (See extract from his account at end of blog)
Henisy, James                          (more usually spelled Hennessy)
Henshew, Abr.                        (probably Abraham)
Hunt, Saml.
Heacock, James

Keravan, Mick
Killfoyle, Patt?
Kelly, Will
Widow Killfoyle, Patt.          (presumably meaning widow of Patt Killfoyle) 
King, John
Kanah, Will                              (Probably a variant of Keena or Kinna, which is found in the county)
Kent, George
Justin James
Justin, Martin
Jenkins, Robt.
Justin, Will.
King, Miles
King, David
Lawlor, Will
Lowry, Jno.
Loughman, Edwd.
Leech, Geo.
Lawlor, Patt
Muldowny, James
McAboy, Jno.
Moran, Patt
Heny? Will
Murphy, Laur.                   (probably an abbreviation of Laurence) 
Mullowney, Jno.
McAboy, Dan and B..?
Moor, James
McDermot, Phill.
Morrissey, Edward
Neal, James
Neal, Patt.
Orp, Will
Preston, Jams.
Phelan, Danl.                      (A common local name)
Phelan, James
Preston, Wm.
Phelan, John
Phelan, Mick, Junr. Branra        (Now Brandra,  a townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Remington, Henry
Reily, Patt
Revers, John
Sheeran, Jno.      Branra              (Now Brandra,  a townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Sheeran, Andw.
Sheeran, James,  Bishop            (‘Bishop’  may be the residence, but no such place could be found)
Story, James
Sheeran, Mick
Story, Thomas
Sullivan, John
Sheeran, James –   Gorry         (‘Gorry’  may be the residence, but no such place could be found)
Swain, John do.
Sheeran, Patt
Sheeran, John, Bish.         (‘Bish.’  may be the residence and used to distinguish him from the other
                                                    John Sheeran above, but no such place could be found)

Tynan, John
Tynan, Will                      (A common local name)
Tynan, Tim
Tynan, Mick
Tierney, Thos.
Tobin, Patt
Tynan, Tim
Tierney, Thos.
Tierney, Will
Tynan, Tim – Ballymullen              (Townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Wall, James
Wilkinson, Mick
Wood, Grallo                      (There is a Grallow Wood close to Abbeyleix, so this may refer to tenants of this wood)
Watt:  garden men
Walsh, John
Walsh, Patt

The debit page of the account of Will Hogan:  This  shows that he  received a holding for which the due rent is given as 13 shillings;  and also received wages in cash at intervals.   On the Credit page (not show here)  is listed the numbers of days he worked in return for his holding and wages.


Other articles in our series on Irish Family Sources:

Written by Jim Ryan
Dr Jim Ryan is a writer and publisher who has been active in Irish genealogy for the past 35 years. His books include: Irish Records- sources of family and local history; Tracing your Dublin Ancestors (Flyleaf Press 2009); Irish Church Records (Flyleaf 2001); Sources for Irish Family History (Flyleaf 2001), and Tracing your Sligo Ancestors (Flyleaf 2012). He writes blogs and articles for Ancestor Network and Irish Roots, and previously for In-Depth Genealogist, and Irish America. He has lectured extensively to genealogy conference and societies.