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; Heacock, Keravan, 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)
Doyl, Peter (usually written Doyle)
Dooly, Lar. (‘Lar.’ is probably a variant of Laurence / Larry)
Dior, Henry (a variant of Dier – see above)
Darcy, Kavan? (perhaps a variant of Kevin)
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)
FitzPatrick Mick (A common local name)
FitzPatrick, Gart. (possibly an abbreviation of Garret)
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)
Widow Killfoyle, Patt. (presumably meaning widow of Patt Killfoyle)
Kanah, Will (Probably a variant of Keena or Kinna, which is found in the county)
Murphy, Laur. (probably an abbreviation of Laurence)
McAboy, Dan and B..?
Phelan, Danl. (A common local name)
Phelan, Mick, Junr. Branra (Now Brandra, a townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Sheeran, Jno. Branra (Now Brandra, a townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Sheeran, James, Bishop (‘Bishop’ may be the residence, but no such place could be found)
Sheeran, James – Gorry (‘Gorry’ may be the residence, but no such place could be found)
Swain, John do.
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, Will (A common local name)
Tynan, Tim – Ballymullen (Townland south of Abbeyleix town)
Wood, Grallo (There is a Grallow Wood close to Abbeyleix, so this may refer to tenants of this wood)
Watt: garden men
Other articles in our series on Irish Family Sources:
- Petty Sessions– the records of local courts
- Grand Jury Presentments – records of local councils on payments for public works and staff
- Rentals – management of tenants by estates and the records created
- How comprehensive are Irish Civil Records?
- Travellers’ accounts of Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries
- Census returns in Gaelic or Irish languag
- 50+ blogs with names extracted from manuscript sources. A handy map index to these is available here.