Estate Records

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In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the vast majority of the Irish population lived as small tenant farmers on large estates owned by English landlords. The administration of these estates inevitably produced large quantities of records, maps, tenants' lists, rentals, account books, lease books etc. Over the course of the twentieth century, as the estates have been broken up and sold off, many collections of these records have become public. Though they apply to a rather limited number of families, they are gold mines of information; occasionally supplying whole family relationships.

Unfortunately, these records are generally indexed by landlord name and it is quite rare for a large landowner to have individual rental or lease agreements with the huge numbers of small tenants on his land. Instead, he would let a significant area to a middleman, who would then sublet to others, who might in turn rent out parts to the smallest tenants. It is very rare for estate records to document the smallest landholders since most of these had no right of tenure in any case, being simply tenants "at will."

There are a number of ways of discovering who your families landlord was so you can search for his estate records:

Upon finding the name of your families landlord, you're ready to check the sources for his estate papers:

 

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