Rental records are great sources for documenting actual family history – helping researchers understand the circumstances in which their ancestors lived. But they have a secondary, if unintended, use as census substitutes. A comprehensive account of land rental records and their uses in family history research has been published on this site as ‘Rentals as a Resource for Irish Family History’. Tracing Your Leitrim Ancestors by Tom Coughlan provides a thorough listing of Co. Leitrim rental records. Because of their diversity as information sources, they can be found in Chapter 4 as Census Substitutes, and in Chapter 6 as Land and Estate Records.
Like many north-western Irish counties, Leitrim is not well served with records from before the mid-19th Century. Only 10 of its Roman Catholic Parishes and 7 of its Church of Ireland Parishes have registers predating 1840; and only 2 household returns from the 1851 Census of Ireland survive. Even the Census Search Forms that could provide abstracts from the 1841 and 1851 censuses number only 1,865 and many of these provide little or no data. These deficiencies force the researcher to rely on other sources. Griffith’s Valuation and Tithe records exist but there is a gap of 20 to 30 years between these two sources, and neither includes all households. Records from estates, where they exist, can help fill this gap. They may also bridge the gap between Griffith’s and the introduction of Civil Registration of Births, Deaths and Catholic Marriages in 1864 (non Catholic marriages were registered from 1845). Even when land records exist, however, much analysis is needed. Tracing Your Leitrim Ancestors lists about 20 collections of estate records known to exist in the public domain. Of these, the most useful are those of the Lord Leitrim estate and the Ponsonby/Totthenham estate.
Most estate records are housed at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and as research normally entails a visit to this wonderful library my book gives their “call numbers” . However, the Library is engaged in a process of digitising selected manuscripts and making them freely available online. A small number of Leitrim rental records have already been digitised and can be found through a search on the NLI Catalogue. Ticking the box “Show Digitised Items Only” and using the search terms “Rentals Leitrim” or “Estates Leitrim” returns the following results;
- Rental of the Right Honorable Nathaniel Earl of Leitrim Mohill and Cloone Estates, for the year ending 29th September 1843
- Rental of the Right Honorable Nathaniel, Earl of Leitrim’s Estates in Counties Leitrim and Sligo, for the year ending 20th September and 1st November 1845
- Rental of the right honorable Nathaniel Earl of Leitrim’s Estates in Counties Leitrim and Sligo, for the year ending 29th September & 1st November 1846
- Maps of Leitrim Maps 1 – 18. This is a mixed bag of sources, not all of them relevant to Leitrim
- Maps of Manorhamilton in the County of Leitrim, The Estate of the Right Honorable the Earl of Leitrim, Surveyed by William Larkin, 1807. The maps are barely visible.
- A survey of lands at Lisgarnly Kiltycarney [and Gort] in the barony and County of Leitrim. Names of some tenants & acreage of holdings shown
- A Book of Maps of the Estates Belonging to Nathaniel Clements Esquire In the Parishes of Mohill & Clune In the County of Leitrim together with Observations upon the present state and Future Improvement of each Farm Also a Table of Contents and A General Observation, with Respect to Lands, Granted by the Patent But in the Possession of other Generall By William Wogan, 1750”. It includes a page of general observations at the end of the volume
- A map of lands at Tullyvane [Tullyveame] and Liscullue [Liscuillew] in the barony of Drumahaire and County Leitrim. Table of reference showing tenants [partners] & acreage of holdings. See Tullyvane Map portion
Note also that Ancestor Network have also put further Leitrim rental records online on this site, i.e.
- Tenants of Clements Estate in Mohill, Leitrim in 1800. Click here
- Tenants of Earl of Leitrim, Carrigallen CP, Leitrim 1829. Click here
- Tenants of Cloonclare and Killasnet Parishes in Leitrim 1829-36. Click here
This is overall quite a diverse selection of records and the listings here merely scratch the surface of the full set of available sources. Nevertheless, to anyone seeking ancestors from the areas covered who is unable to visit the National Library these online sources could be of huge benefit. One of the most interesting of this short collection is A Book of Maps of the Estates Belonging to Nathaniel Clements Esquire In the Parishes of Mohill & Clune which dates from 1750 (see Clements Map below) and shows the state of play when the Clements family (later Earls of Leitrim) first established their estates in the county. The maps not only describe in detail the quality of the townlands on the estates but also name the major tenants and show the names of the subtenants. This allows the placing of a surname in a townland in 1750, some 70-plus years before the Tithe Applotment Books. Sadly there is, in most cases, little to bridge the gaps between these years, but even locating a surname in a place is better than nothing.
Another potential boon to the researcher is that a list of the mapped townlands are included on the map. However, the names of the townlands in the 1750 Mohill map do not match those in the Ordnance Survey work of almost a century later. As often happens, there is inconsistency in the spelling of place-names. The listing below shows the townland name from the 1750 map followed, in brackets, by the ‘official’ townland name as accepted today.
Annaghderrige (Annaghderg Lower & Annaghderg Upper)
Cloneboyna (Cloonboniagh North and Cloonboniagh South)
Corryaffy (Corrascoffy (?))
Corkenaw North (Corracramph South (?))
Corkenaw South (Corracramph South (?))
Drumrahill North (Drumraghool North)
Drumrahill South (Drumraghool South)
Lagheen (Laheen South)
Roskey North (Rooskynamona)
Roskey South (Rooskynamona)
The 1750 Maps book noted above also contains a listing of townlands in Cloone.
Tracing your Leitrim Ancestors – by Tom Coughlan, is available here