Agriculture has been central to Irish life for centuries and the backbone of the rural community is the farming family. The aim of this book is to help those with roots in the farming community in Ireland find out more about their ancestors through identifying documentary and printed sources of relevance. The book contains much information on relevant collections in archives and libraries on the island of Ireland, as well as a selection of material held beyond these shores.
Prior to the late nineteenth century, very few farmers owned their farms outright, but rather were tenants on an estate. Considerable attention is given to the records generated by the management of landed estates in Ireland and how these can help uncover much about the lives of farming families. Documentation such as leases, rentals, maps and surveys can all assist in understanding more of the lives of our farming ancestors.
As the result of legislation passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the estate system came to an end and an owner-occupier class of farmers was created. The records relating to this major period of change, generated by the Land Commission and other bodies, are highlighted and discussed.
Other archives and sources discussed include the Registry of Deeds, Valuation records, census returns and records of freeholders. There are also chapters on records generated by farmers themselves, such as diaries and account books, and on the records of farming organisations, including agricultural improvement societies and the co-operative movement.
William Roulston began working for the Ulster Historical Foundation in 1997 and has been Research Director since 2006. He was awarded a PhD in Archaeology by Queen’s University Belfast in 2004. He has written and edited a number of publications on different aspects of Irish history. These include: Three Centuries of Life in a Tyrone Parish: A History of Donagheady from 1600 to 1900 (2010), Abercorn: The Hamiltons of Barons Court (2014), Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors (2nd edition, 2018) and Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland (2020). Raised on a farm in Bready, County Tyrone, he now lives with his family near Cullybackey, County Antrim.