Labourers in Co. Carlow in 1793/4

Small Sources 13:   Below is a list of 111 labourers employed on the Vigors Estate at Burgage, near Leighlin Bridge, Co. Carlow in 1793/94. The names are on four separate lists all apparently written by the same farm manager or foreman (based on the handwriting)  and included  in the Cliff – Vigors  Estate Papers in the National Archives of Ireland (Ref NAI 1096.2.12). See here for a description of the holdings. A detailed account of the Vigors family and their estates is in 2011 issue of  the journal Carloviana which is available on-line here  – see p. 93.

Fig 1. Extract from List of ‘Mowers 1793’ with number of days worked

List 1 is headed ‘Mowers 1793’ and contains 20 names, all men (see Fig 1 at left); the second unheaded list has 21 names, all men except for 3 widows; List 3 is headed ‘January 1794 at Manure, Burgage’ which suggests that these workers were engaged in hauling and spreading manure. It contains 27 names of men and 3 widows. The final list, also unheaded, contains 43 names including 3 widows (see Fig 2 below).  Was it perhaps the custom to give work to widows?  Other than names, the numbers of days worked are also listed. There are some names which recur in more than one list, e.g. John Lennon, Ned and Tom McCardell, P.Mulloy, P. Delaney and a few others.

Some of these workers may also have been tenants on the Vigors estate as it was very common for tenants to pay their rent in the form of a number of days of work.  A separate article on Rentals provides further information on the tenant management practices of Irish estates.
The names include many that are common in Carlow including Byrne, Doyle, Farrell, Kavanagh, Kinsella, Lalor, Lawler, McDonnell and Murphy. However, the range of names which are not associated with Carlow suggests that some of these workers may have been so-called  spailpíns (anglicised as spailpeen or spalpeen) which is a term for landless labourers who travelled the country seeking work.  There are also some very rare names such as Poor, Trinity, Condra and Wymse. Further information on some of these families may be available through our e-book title ‘Sources for Irish Family History 2021‘.  It   lists 6,500 books and articles written  about specific Irish families.  It provides access to a wealth of published information on about 2,500 Irish families.
The compiler of the list has truncated the spelling of the names in many cases  (e.g. Byrn for Byrne, Dun for Dunne) and also uses abbreviations for first names:  Js. is James,  Ds is probably Denis, Dl. is Daniel,  Ts. is Thomas,  Michl. is Michael and Jn.  is John.  Other notations such as ‘Red McCabe’ and ‘Little L. McCabe’ are probably nick-names used to distinguish the several McCabes on the list.
The images of the document above and below were created by Ancestor Network in the National Archives of Ireland and are reproduced here through their courtesy. If you need help in following up on anything related to this source, or any other Irish research, you can outline your requirements here and we will let you know what we might be able to do for you. 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 ‘Carlow  SS13’ in the subject line.

The names are listed below according to the list in which they are found,  and also some author comments on the names

Mowers  1793                (author comments)

T Doran
Js. Kelley
James Connors
Tom Dundon
Larry Ryan
Js. Wall
John Connon ?
Robt. Welsh
Michl. Byrn
Owen Mahon
A Hughes
P. Collins
P.  Neal
Tom Keef (Reef?)                 Possibly an abbreviation of O’Keefe
Bryan Byrn
? McCabe
Jack Poor
John Lennon
Fig 2. Extract from unheaded list of workers 2 – see below.

Unheaded List 1

Joseph Reddy
Little L. McCabe
P Kinsella
Wid. Mulrooney            probably widow
Robt. Cody
Jn. Kearney
Wid. Hearn
Dick Wynne
Tom McCardel
Dl. Mara
Dl. McDonel
Thos. Conway
Jams. Brennon (?) Wood
Mick McCabe
John McCabe
Widw. Kelly                        probably widow
Billy Mara
Darby Mara
Red McCabe
James Brohan
John Lennon

Janry. 1794 at Manure, Burgage

Widow Brennan
P. Byrn
P. Mulloy
C. Byrn
Wm. Mara
Js. Brohan
Widw. Fitzgerald
L Marks
Ds. Reddy
P Murphy
Ed. Laler
Ts. Brennon
Pat Mooney
W. Lynchey
Ts. Conra                           Probably a variant of Condra, a rare name usually found in Louth
Pat Delaney
James Kelly
John Poor
Wid. Mulrooney                    probably widow
Wid. Kerns                                       ”
Ned McCardel?
Pat Lynchey
Paddy Marks
Michl? Welsh
Tom Cavenagh                   usually spelled Kavanagh
Pat Ralf
Bryan? Doran

Unheaded List 2   (see Fig. 2) 

Mich & Steven Byrn
Widow Brennon                  usually spelled Brennan
Paddy Marks
Mick Lynchy                        usually spelled Lynch
Larry Marks
P. Mulloy
P. Hannaway
Darby Caulfield
Wm Mara
Js. Brohan
Sally Welsh
Judy Dun                  usually spelled Dunne
Darby Mara
Sally Farrell
Widow McAnally
James Mooney
Dl. Mara
Darby Neal
James Trinity
Js. Cody
E. Foley
Js. McCabe
Js. Condra
Mich. Byrn Morris
Wat. Mooney
Ds. Laler                  usually spelled Lawlor or Lalor
Tom McCardell
Widow Maher
John Divine                  usually spelled Devine
Tom Holran
Rich. Wymse
Mick Reddy
Jn. McCabe
Pat Kinsela
Ned McCardel
James Reddy
F Doran
P Delaney
Lancton                            Possibly a variant of Langton
G. Byron                                (a variant of Beirne)
T McCardel
Js. McDonel

Further Carlow and general articles in our series on Irish Family History sources include:


Carlow sources