Book Review: Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton

Discover Irish Land Records by Chris Paton, published by UnlockThePast

Discover Irish Land Records. By Chris Paton. Published by UnlockThePast Publications, PO Box 119, St Agnes SA 5097, Australia. AUS $17.00. Available as an e-book from, AUS $9.05. Available in North America from CAN$19. Available in the UK from ₤7.50. 2015. 60 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Mr. Paton succeeds very nicely in his stated purpose which is to introduce the reader to some of the basic land records available online and offline, and to outline how they may be used for genealogical research.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first gives a brief overview of the troubled history of Ireland from the Gaels, Vikings and Old English, up through the partition of Ireland in May of 1921, highlighting the impact events had on land ownership. The second chapter addresses boundaries and administrations which are a necessity to understand for different jurisdictions govern how different records are organized. You get the usual explanation of provinces, counties, baronies and civil parish, but you also get descriptions of lessor know jurisdictions such as manors, demesnes, boroughs, district electoral divisions and registrations districts. The differences between English and Irish acres (or Plantation acres) are explained here.

Starting with chapter three the book gets into the records themselves focusing on where the people were examining vital records, decennial censuses, census substitutes, directories, electoral records and newspapers. Chapter four moves into records of tenancy, ownership and valuation and this is where along with the familiar, lessor known records will be found. The chapter covers estate records, leases, rentals, quit rents and ground rents, estate maps, probate records, land registration, the Down Survey, tithe and valuation records. The final chapter encourages the researcher to discover what a place looks like and how it has changed over time by examining the Irish historic town atlas, the ordnance survey maps and memoirs, along with gazetteers, journals and parish histories.

Chris, as usual has provided the researcher with an up to date practical guide for doing Irish land research. He explains how to find the records, both for the North and South, online and offline. What stands out are the record examples, usually from his own research in the North, for they illustrate well why you should go looking for your ancestors in these records. The examples include transcripts from: eighteenth century newspaper advertisements for sale of a family property; a nineteenth century lease agreement for a small plot of land describing fees and obligations; a lease for multiple lives showing how they changed over time; rental agreements showing changes in fortune and ownership; and tithe payments that change through Griffiths and the valuation books. The suggestions and ideas in this book will keep your Irish research going for a while and will likely take you into records you have not explored before. It is highly recommended.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s