Tithe Applotment Books
Tithes were an income tax on farming..usually about one tenth of the annual
income. These were used for the upkeep of the Church of Ireland and were
paid from the time of the Reformation. Before the Composition Act of 1823
it was possible to pay them in kind instead of money. From the time of the
Composition Act they were supposed to be paid in cash..and Tithe surveys
were carried out in each Parish to assess what the income for that parish
would be. Two people were appointed by each parish to carry out this
Both Catholics and Protestants resented this tax -
Tax was not payable on all land, and there was even variation on the types
of land from place to place.
From 1736 grazing land had an exemption - this was usually land held by
Certain crops were taxable, others weren't. Potatoes could be taxable in
one parish and not in the one next door.
Tithe books are not comprehensive, people who did not hold land are not
listed and some types of land were passed over absolutely. Towns and cities
were usually not assessed.
They are arranged by townland and usually give the acreage held by each
farmer. However, note here that the measurement used was the plantation or
Irish acre which differs in size from the imperial or English acre used in
the Griffiths Valuation.
The information you get from the Tithe Books is simple, :
townland name; landholders name; area of land and tithes paid. Some
will list the landlords name as well.
The original tithe books for the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland are
held in the National Archives in Dublin. Those for the 6 counties of
Northern Ireland were transferred to the PRONI in Belfast. Copies remain in
Dublin in the National Archives and National Library.
Both Catholics and Protestants objected to paying of Tithes.
1830 Catholic Parishioners in Graiguenamanagh in Co. Kilkenny withheld their
1832 they were followed by those in most parts of south Leinster and Munster
and violence erupted - The 'Tithe War'.
Church of Ireland Ministers therefore ended up without this money during
1831. It was necessary for them in order to claim from the Clergy Relief
Fund to draw up a list of Parishioners who had defaulted on the Tithes.
499 Lists/Schedules of Defaulters were submitted in order to avail of the
relief fund. 127 of these still survive. - Lists of Tithe Defaulters...not
written up alphabetically, and it is necessary to go through each book for
each county and for some there are a number of books.
(Some of these have been produced on CD..Kilkenny may be one - I stand open
to correction on that - Jane (53 of these books relate to Kilkenny; 30 to
Tipperary; some coverage of Laois, Carlow, Offaly, Meath, Cork, Kerry ,
Limerick, Louth Waterford and Wexford).
Quaker records show lists of those who defaulted on Tithes also.
Griffiths Primary Valuation
This valuation records every landowner and householder in Ireland in a
period shortly after the famine.
An Act was passed in 1826 allowed for a uniform valuation of property in all
Ireland for levying of county cess charges and grand Jury Rates. Thus began
an assessment of the whole country, county by county by Sir Richard
Amendments were passed to the 1826 Act, the first in 1831 excluded those
houses under the annual valuation of £3, another in 1836 excluded house
The information given in the Griffiths gives:
the townland address and householders name; the name of the person from whom
the property is leased; a description of the property; the acreage and the
If a surname was common in an area then the surveyors adopted the
practice of indicating the fathers name to show the difference between two people of
the same Christian name and surname.. (usually)
So Tadgh O'Brien (Michael) is the son of Michael O'Brien and Tadgh O'Brien
(James) is the son of James O'Brien. However, here in Ireland people of the
same name could/can be distinguished simply by indicating the colour of
their hair (as gaeilge - thru Irish ) so it would have been sufficient here
to indicate that one Tadgh had red hair and one Tadgh black - calling them
respectively Tadgh (Red) O'Brien and Tadgh (Black) O'Brien
To confuse those who come in search of ancestors has always been the
ambition of the very Ancestors
The main difference between the Tithe Applotment Books and the Griffiths
Valuation is that all householders were listed in Griffiths.
Remember the different types of acres used in each, the Irish and English
acre..this will account for difference in size of land held by a family from
one valuation to the other I they appear in both. Remember also the fact
that the house of less than £3 annual value were included up to the year
1831 and excluded from that point forward, and those with an annual value of
£5 were included up to 1836 and excluded from then on.
Many refer to the Griffiths CD, which is handy enough to track a surname
through the country.or to find some places in counties where the name
occurs. However, this is a list of names for the county, there is no way of
knowing if the six John O'Leary's listed for one county are one and the same
or if all the land is held by John O'Leary and rented out to others. One
problem I personally have noted with the Griffiths CD is that while it is
supposed to have been transcribed from the originals - the place names are
not as they should be in many instances. There are placenames in there
which while I know them from the originals - are not the same as actually
written in the Griffiths valuation books.
This I assume is because these were written up by people with little or no
knowledge of Irish geography or Irish phonetics. So that while they
transcribed what they thought they saw.. because of faded ink or poor
script - the actual name might be quite different. If it was someone with a
knowledge of either Irish phonetics or the geography of the area they would
have written a different word as the place name. This is not a huge error
to anyone who does know the geography of the area they are enquiring about,
but for anyone who hasn't got a clue it's a different story.
There is an index to the surnames occurring in the Griffiths Valuation. The
indices are made up by county. divided into baronies, parishes, townlands.
There are two sections to an index and some counties have a number of
volumes covering the whole county. e.g. Co. Cork has three. Each index is
divided into two sections, the first being an alphabetical list of surnames
occurring in the area the index covers and the names that occur in each
Barony. The second section is an alphabetical list of surnames occurring in
each parish within that barony. It doesn't matter if you don't know which
Barony the parish you are looking for is in - you just check through the
second section. It doesn't matter even if you don't know the parish you can
just check the first section to see where the name occurred in a
The index to the surnames tells you how many times a surname
occurred in a particular parish and whether or not that surname also occurred in the Tithe
books. It does not give you any more information than that.
The Householders Index with their LDS-FHC film numbers:
Antrim Armagh, Carlow, Cavan LDS film # 0919001
Clare, Cork, Londonderry LDS film # 0919002
Donegal, Down Dublin LDS Film # 0919003
Fermanagh, Galway Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny LDS film # 0919004
Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath LDS film # 0919005
Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary LDS film # 09119006
Tyrone, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow LDS film # 0919007
Valuation Office Records
The Valuation office was set up to carry out the original Primary Valuation.
It is still in existence and has in its possession the original set of
notebooks used by the Griffiths Valuation surveyors These are the field
books, the house books and tithe tenure books. All 3 have maps which
indicate the holding they refer to.
Field Books: Information on the size & quality of a holding
House Books: Occupiers name and measurement of any buildings Tenure Books: Annual rent paid and legal basis - whether by lease or at
will, also the year of any lease.
These notebooks also document any changes in occupation between the initial
survey and the final published survey.
The valuation office also holds the 'Cancelled' or 'revision' Land Books and
Current Land Books.
The Cancelled land books are similar to those of the published valuation but
observations made are handrwritten in on these. The observations can show
whether the size or physical structure of the holding were altered, also the
changes in the name of the landlord or occupier. this can show death or
emigration for a particular year. Changes may have been noted up to a few
years after the actual change. It is best to go to the original earlier
years and work your way forward with these because the actual numbers of
lots can have changed over the years because of lots being broken up or
The Land Commission was created by the 1881 Land Act. Initially is was
created to determine fair rents but its main purpose became to assist
tenants to purchase their property. A Congested Districts Board was set up
in 1891 and this had a similar function, but it was abolished by the Irish
Govt. in 1923 and its powers transferred to the Land Commission.
So, in the latter part of the 19thC and the early part of the 20thC people
who occupied land were able to buy that land. You will see an entry in the
cancelled books showing (In Fee) meaning that the occupier was now the owner.
Also, on these you may see LAP. Land Act Purchase stamped on an entry,
meaning that the occupier had been assisted in by the Lands Commission
to purchase the land.
The cancelled books for the 26 counties are held in Dublin in the Valuation
Office while those for the 6 counties of Northern Ireland are held in the
PRONI in Belfast.
Those in Dublin are bound together by year in large volumes, the oldest
being at the back (oldest = Griffiths)
Those in Belfast are not bound and have to be asked for separately and are
only available up to the 1930's.
The related maps are also held in the
Valuation Office. These are Ordnance Survey Sheets onto which the property boundaries were drawn. Changes in
holdings are also indicated on the maps.
Published here with
full permission of Jane