Residents of Abbeyleix area, Laois (Queen’s County) in 1801

Share it

Small Sources 56: This is a list of 213 people who purchased Indian Meal from the  DeVesci Estate in the Civil Parish of Abbeyleix, Queen’s County (now Co. Laois) in July 1801. The background was that there were  significant food shortages in Ireland during this year.  Food prices had risen dramatically during the previous months, mainly due to the demand for food for the British Army which was then at war with France. This shortage caused great difficulties for all, but particularly for the poor. To relieve this distress, the Government banned the export of foodstuffs, and waived all duties on imported meal and flour.  Corn meal, or Indian meal, was imported in large quantities from America, and was used as a substitute for wheat flour in the making of bread. This strategy was effective and Indian meal became widely available, as this example shows.

This list is from an account of purchases of Indian Meal among the DeVesci Papers in the National Library of Ireland (NLI Ms. 34,421).  It shows the amount purchased per person, which ranges from 1 to 4 stone of meal, and the amount paid (see illustration below).  The extensive DeVesci estate papers detail the properties and transactions of the family in several parts of Ireland.   The estate was managed from Abbeyleix, where the family resided in Abbeyleix House (see picture above).  Although residences for those on the list are not given,  the people listed are all logically residents of the local area, and many are workers on the estate.  Among several interesting aspects of the list is that 98, or 46%, are women, including 16 widows.  Information on women is far less available in historic documents, as men tend to be listed as property owners, and as head of households.   This document provides information on the names of women in this period. The most popular being Mary (19), Biddy or Bridget (9), Betty (6) and Catherine (4). A previous blog lists 87 women in Kilkenny and the names here generally match these.

There are also some interesting and unusual family names within the list: Haycock, Batterer, Oxbergh,  Keravan and Larresy are all rare names, particularly in this county. Other names which are nationally rare,  but mainly found in this county or region include Perkinson (a variant of Parkinson), and Loughman. There are also the names Vousdill and Oxbergh, for which there are no Irish references that I can find.  Suggestions of Irish occurrences of these names would be welcome.  If you are interested in information on specific families,  our e-book title ‘Sources for Irish Family History 2021  lists 6,500  books and articles on over 2,500  Irish families.  The sources listed contain a wealth of information in the form of articles and books. The full details are described in one of our blogs.

Among the locally common names are Fitzpatrick, Bergin, Delany, Dooly, Phelan, Lalor (or Lawlor), Tierney and Tynan.  Some common abbreviations of first names are used, such as Jno. = John; Jas. = James; Edwd. = Edward; Thos. = Thomas; Patt = Patrick; Wm. = William; Richd. = Richard.  Bartle is a short name for Bartholomew.   Some distinctive Irish names also occur such as Kyran (usually Kieran) and Darby (Dermot).      The images of the document above and below were created by Ancestor Network in the National Library of Ireland and are 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 ‘LaoisSSxx’ in the subject line.

Purchaser’s name

Batterer?, Wm.
Bergin, Jas.
Bergin, Widow
Bonham, Edwd.
Bonham, Roger
Bourke, Honor
Bourke, Margt.
Bowe, Bridget
Brennan, Mary
Brennan, Mary
Brett, Judy
Brophy, Jno.
Brophy, Mary
Brophy, Tim
Bruton, Mary
Bruton, John
Bruton, Mary
Bruton, Sam
Buggy, Widow (Bugg in 1 entry)
Butler? Betty
Byrne, Judy
Byrne, Wm.
Byrne, Bartle  Islan
Campion, Ann
Campion, Tom
Carroll, Patt
Carroll, Darby
Carroll, Honor
Carroll, Jno.
Carroll, Mary
Carroll, Patt
Carroll, Tom
Carter, Mary
Carter, Mrs. Rathmon?
Carter, Wm.
Case, Thos.
Case, Tom
Casey, Michl.
Clear, Bridget
Conner, Ansty
Connor, Widow (Conner in 1)
Costigan, Alice
Costigan, Patt
Cotton, William
Cunden?, Bridget
Dalton, Patt
Daly, Peggy
Daly, Betty
Daly, Charles
Delany, Catherine
Delany, Kitty
Delany, Callis?
Delany, Jno.
Delany, Kitty
Delany, Nelly
Delany, Sylvester
Dempsey, Nancy
Dempsy, Philip
Denair, Judy
Denair, Honor
Donnevan, Tom
Donnovan, Mr.
Dooley, Henry
Dooley, Laurence
Dowling Jno.
Dowling, Margt.
Dowling, Mary
Dowling, Michl.
Duan, Denis
Duan, Tom
Dunn, Nelly
Dunne, Betty
Dunne, Jno.

Dunne, Sarah
Dunne, Wm.
Dunphy, Tom
Dunphy, Michl.
Durney, Michl.
Fauhey, Betty
Fauhey, Eliza
Fitzgerrald, Jane
Fitzpatrick, Margt.
Fitzpatrick, Biddy
Fitzpatrick, Darby
Fitzpatrick, Dennis
Fitzpatrick, Mary
Flinn, Mrs. (usually  Flynn)
Flood, Mary
Foster, Anne
Foyle, Thady
Gorman, Judith
Gough, Wm.
Grant, Betty
Harlford or Hartford, Kitty
Harlford,   ”      Edwd.
Hartford, Jno.
Haycock, Mrs.
Higgins, Tom
Hiland, Ned   (usually Hyland)
Hiland, Patt             ”
Hodgin, Ann
Holehan, Thos.   (usually Holohan)
Holland, Biddy
Hosey, Charles
Hughes, Mary
Hughes, Ned
Hughes, Thomas
Johnson, Jas.
Johnson, Rose
Kavanagh, Peg
Keenan, Widow
Kelly, Kyran for Mr. Dobbs
Kelly, Ned
Kelly, Ned  Foster
Kelly, Widow
Kenna, Patt
Kennedy Danl.
Kennedy, Jno.
Kennedy, Dan
Kennedy, Mary
Kenny, Jno.
Kervan, Jno. (Kerevan in 1)
Kilbride, Widow
Kilfoyle, Bridget
King, Alec
Lalor, George
Lalor, Hugh
Lalor, Mary
Lalor, Rachel
Lalor, Richd.
Lalor, Thady
Larresy, Catherine
Larresy, Mary
Larresy, Nancy
Loughman, Mr.
Lowry, Widow
Maddin, Wm.
Maher, Darby
Maher, Nancy
Mangan, Mrs.
McDonald, Widow
McEvoy, Martha
McEvoy, Kitty
McEvoy, Wm.
McGinnis, Catherine
McGinnis, Mary
McKee, Widow

Mooney, Jas.
Mooney, Catherine
Moore, Ned
Moran, Henry
Moran, Widow
Muldowny, Despard
Muldowny, Widow
Mulhall, Catherine
Mulhall, Honor
Mulhall, Kitty
Murphy, Winny
Neill, Ann
Neill, Jas.
Neill, Margt.
Neill, Peggy
Oxbergh, Henry
Parkinson, Jno.
Perkinson, Jane
Perkinson, Widow
Phelan, Biddy
Phelan, Danl.
Phelan, Jno.
Phelan, Kitty
Phelan, Larry
Phelan, Mary
Phelan, Paddy
Phelan, Patt
Phelan, Polly
Phelan, Widow
Pursill, Catherine
Quigly, Andrew
Quigly, Winny
Quinn, Nelly
Reilly, John
Remington, Wm.
Roberts, Arthur
Salmon, Widow
Sans, Judy
Sheeran, Margt.
Sheeran, Ned

Sheeran, Jno.

Stern ?, Mrs.
Story? Mrs
Sutliff, Mary
Sutliff, Mrs.
Sutliff, Widow
Thompson, Nelly
Tierney, Patt
Tierney, Wm.
Toban, James
Toban, Laurence or Larry
Tynan, ??
Tynan, Betty
Tynan, Judy
Tynan, Mary
Tynan, Wm.
Vance, Sam
Vance, Wm.
Vousdill ? Mary
Wall, Widow
Walsh, Biddy
Walsh, Bridget
Walsh, Laurence
Watt, David
Wild, Mr. Thos.
Wilkinson, Judy


Extract from the list of purchasers. Column 2 is the amount of Indian Meal  bought by each person (in Stones and  lbs) and column 3 is the amount paid (Shillings/pence)

One Response

  1. Thank you. I have ancestors surnamed Roberts living/working in Abbeyleix from 1800 to 1850. Listed as farmers/servants/ gardeners. Including Michael Roberts, and John Roberts. I wonder if Arthur Roberts listed as buying Indian meal in 1801 was the father of Michael Roberts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *