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The Tithe Applotment

   I’ve discussed Griffith’s and the records that follow it, the Revision Books, and the Landed Estate Court Rentals, but what about before?  The Tithe was a tax paid by occupiers of agricultural land to support the Church of Ireland.  This was required across religions, so Roman Catholics and Presbyterians were also required to pay (as you can imagine, they were not happy about this).  Most of the funds went to an ecclesiastical body, but there were cases where the funds were paid to the local landowner.  Although this tax was a historical one, the Tithe Composition Act of 1823 required that the tax, formerly paid in kind or in agricultural yield, now was to be paid in money.


   As a result of the new law, a valuation was required to determine the tax, which was based on the expected yield depending on the quality of the land.  The rate books were created between 1823 and 1838, and most of those which have survived are online at the National Archives of Ireland. Before you search, it's good to use the Browse feature to see what is covered. Go to the Tithe Applotment at the National Archives and click on Browse.

Select the County, then the parish. Below you can see that for County Down (which is now part of Northern Ireland) there are only two parishes with records (and Maghera only has one townland). Drumgooland has the townland of Ballymaghinaghy. (Irish names were not standardized until the 1830 so be flexible.)

The page had two of my husband's ancestors...John King and Bernard Laughlin. Keep in mind the time gap between the Tithe and Griffith's. Bernard had died by the time of Griffith's and his son Edward was on the property.

Although the National Archives site has some documents for all of Ireland, most of the originals for the six counties of Northern Ireland were sent to PRONI after the partition. Sometimes you can find the Tithes in the e-Catalog at PRONI under the name of the townland or parish, and sometimes they are included in the estate papers. They are not online.

   If you’ve found your ancestors in Griffith’s, then go back to see if they are living in the same place in the Tithe.  As mentioned above, because of the time gap in the two surveys you may not find the same individual.  Look for the surname and then see if you can identify the given names.  If church records exist for this timeframe, you may be able to identify family groups.

   As I’ve said in the past, there are no complete record sets prior to civil registration, and the Tithe is no exception.  Only those with agricultural land are included.  If your ancestor lived in a city, or was a tradesman, they would not be listed.  In addition, not all of the books survive.  Although I have my Mathew Mackey in Griffith’s there is no listing in the Tithe when I search (be aware that this is an exact match, so try different spellings).  When I “Browse” by County (Leitrim) and Parish (Rossinver) there is no listing for Laghta (townland).  Unshinagh and Cornagheeha, other localities for my families in Leitrim are also missing.  Were the lands exempt?  The books lost?  Unknown, but the frustrating part is that this is also an area where the Church of Ireland registers were destroyed!  Perhaps I’m just unlucky, but there are also no Tithe records for my Dalys in Mayo, my Moags in Down or my Moughtys in Longford.  The record above for the Kings is one of only two parishes listed in County Down. 

   What is referred to as the “Tithe Wars,” began as a nonviolent campaign of civil disobedience by individuals who refused to pay the tithe. Beginning in 1831, lists of Tithe Defaulters were created by local clergy and attempts to collect the tithe were reinforced by use of the Constabulary. Some of the clashes turned violent. Finally with the Rent Charge Act in 1838, the liability for the tithe was transferred from the occupier to the land owner, and tax was included in the rents paid to the landlords. The majority of the names in the Tithe Defaulters lists are from Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford, Cork and Waterford with less than 1000 names from Louth, Limerick, Laois, Carlow, Offaly and Kerry. The Tithe Defaulters database is available at FindMyPast.

   Happy Hunting!

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