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. We have published the list of tenants of the estate in 1750 in another blog, available here. The name Naher 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. The images above are a part of the painting ‘Harvesters’ by Charles Lamb, and an extract from Ms. 7885, created by Ancestor Network and reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Ireland. We also publish ‘A Guide to Tracing your Donegal Ancestors‘ by local historian Helen Meehan (see cover illustration above).
The list of labourers is below and is headed: Labourers May 22nd 1759 till November 1st 1759. There are similar lists (with the same individuals) in 1758.
Teague Cramshy (Crampshy in one list)
Patrick Cain (usually spelt Kane)
Cornel. Dogherty (Cornelius; surname is usually spelt Doherty)
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
- Middle names – the use (or non-use) of second or middle names in Irish records
- How comprehensive are Irish Civil Records?
- Catholic Church Records
- Travellers’ accounts of Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries
- Census returns in Gaelic or Irish language
- 50+ blogs with names extracted from manuscript source. A handy map index to these is available here.