Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Registry of Deeds - IRELAND

Recently I posted something about searching the Registry of Deeds. Here is an interesting comment by John Grenham, very well respected Irish genealogist. It explains this record type and also explains why I have never had any luck using these records, but what I *really* love is his "But, but, but ..." sentence that sums up all genealogical research!! Amen!! Valiant deeds John Grenham Most people will know of the Registry of Deeds as part of the current property registration system (see, but its records actually go back more than 300 years to 1707. The first century and a half of its existence produced a veritable goldmine of material for local and family historians. So why isn’t it more used? There are good reasons. It was originally founded to provide legal defence for the huge transfer of property from Gaelic to Anglo-Irish that took place in the seventeenth century, so its historic records deal almost exclusively with the Anglo-Irish. Very, very few Catholics or Dissenters are recorded. In addition, self-evidently, the records concern the propertied classes, so they cover only those Anglo-Irish who were relatively wealthy: a minority of a minority, in other words. And the records themselves are resolutely eighteenth-century, intensely convoluted, copied out on parchment by scribes standing at lecterns, then bound into back-breaking, tombstone-sized volumes and only indexed very roughly. But, but, but … If there is even the remotest chance of finding something in these records, research is a must. The actual process is a rare experience. The Registry’s historic records are located on the top floor of the King’s Inns, one of the great eighteenth-century public buildings of Dublin. The people recorded in the deeds built the rooms where you now search them. And the search itself requires much climbing up and down ladders carting giant volumes and inhaling 200-year old dust. All that’s missing is the powdered wig. This is research as it should be. Over the years at least four failed attempts have been made to digitise and abstract the records, because the Mormon Family History Library has a complete microfilm copy. The only current attempt is the Registry of Deeds Index Project, a valiant volunteer effort to abstract the family information and put it online ( Look at what remains to be done ( It is the work of many lifetimes.

1 comment:

  1. I have found there are tremendous differences between one county and another in the registry of leases. One "goldmine" county is Longford, where from about 1760 it seemed the norm to register leases for most "anglo" farmers - whether they were poor or better off. In my "tribe" of Moffatts in western Co. Longford I found 26 leases dated between 1738 and 1810. The trick was using the townland index to find the references. Excrutiating to read, as written on parchment, but what a find! For Co. Longford, the pre-1810 townland index films at LDS are: 0100386, 0100408. Meanwhile, tried Leitrim, Londonderry and Cavan - with absolutely no success. Would like to try Limerick. - Tom Moffatt