Genealogy Research Service Ireland by Bruce Chandler Bruce
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Deeds and Leases
The parties involved in these documents were usually gentry and those who dealt with them.
Freehold Leases of landlords to protestant tenants give good information. These were drawn up with the intention of allowing the lease pass down to the next generation of the lessee or tenant. Phrases such as in a 1745 lease "John Carr, his wife Elizabeth, nee Walker and eldest son Charles aged about five" and "Ten acres formerly held by Luke Hayes" provide clues to help make sense of the flimsy parish records of the 18th century.
Mortgages taken out by landlords with merchants sometimes list the tenants on the mortgaged land, their acreages and townlands. Most tenants were catholic and had no leases or short leases so this "third party" information can fill gaps.
Registry of Deeds off Henrietta, Dublin 1, houses over 800 handwritten books of copy leases. Hours daily are 10am to 4.30pm. Admittance is NOW FREE. You are then given a swipe card which admits you to the various rooms of the archives. First leases date from 1708 and the books run up to 1921. Only about 10% of leases were registered. Two types of index guide you to the right book. Start with the Townland Index, in separate index books for each county, if you know where your ancestors came from. You may need to search all the townlands in a parish. The handwriting in the townland indexes is very cramped; clerks tried to squeeze several entries on to one line. Often you misread a numerical reference so take as much care as you can here. Equip yourself with a Townland Index Map and then start looking at the townlands in the parish you want to cover. A short cut tip here is that when you see who is granting many leases in various townlands, switch to the Alphabetical Grantor to Grantee Index. This second system allows you to search quickly for likely landlords and can give you all the leases granted, indexed side by side.
Estate Records are the other source of deeds and leases. Best approach here is to look up Hayes Guide to Manuscript Sources in the National Archives or National Library and find what sources are listed for the county of your seach and where they are. The manuscripts themselves are mainly held in NA or NL Manuscript Room. Deeds and leases in estate records can sometimes go back to the late 17th century.
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