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Hearth money rolls, 1660s

In the 1660s the government introduced a tax on hearths as a means of raising revenue.

The returns, arranged by parish and usually with townland locations, list the names of all

householders paying this tax survive for half the counties in Ireland with coverage most complete in Ulster (in full or in part for all counties except Down). Surviving hearth money rolls will be found in PRONI.

The Flaxgrowers' List, 1796

In 1796 as part of a government initiative to encourage the linen industry in Ireland, free spinning wheels or looms were granted to farmers who planted a certain acreage of their holdings with flax. The names of over 56,000 recipients of these awards have survived in printed form arranged by county and parish. A photocopy of the original volume is available in the Public Search Room at PRONI (reference T/3419), and a microfiche index is available (reference MF/7/1). The index is also available as an online database on this website.

Pre 1858 Will Index

Prior to 1858 the Church of Ireland was responsible for administering all testamentary affairs. Ecclesiastical or Consistorial Courts in each diocese were responsible for granting probate and conferring on the executors the power to administer the estate Unfortunately, nearly all original wills probated before 1858 were destroyed in Dublin in 1922. However, indexes to these destroyed wills do exist and are available on the shelves of the Search Rooms at PRONI and the National Archives in Dublin. These are useful, for although the will cannot now be produced, the index contains the name and residence of the testator and the date that the will was either made or probated. Occasionally the testator's occupation is given. Because the Church of Ireland was responsible for administering wills, the indexes are arranged by diocese, not by county. Despite the loss of virtually all pre- 1858 wills, there are numerous abstracts, extracts and duplicate copies of the originals. In PRONI alone there are some 13,000 of these deriving from a wide variety of sources including landed estate papers, solicitors collections, and the papers of private genealogists. There is a typed index to surviving testamentary papers in the Public Search Room of PRONI.

Distribution of surnames in Ireland in 1890 (Matheson's special report)

This data was derived from Robert R. Matheson's Special Report on Surnames in Ireland. This statistical report is based on the births registered in Ireland during the year 1890. As the former Chief Herald of Ireland, Donal Begley, pointed out "Its value lies in the fact that it provides authorative information as to the numerical strength and distribution of family names throughout the country" (Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, Heraldic Artists Ltd). In recognising the usefulness of this data in helping to focus a search, it should be noted that it provides a snapshot of Irish surname distribution in the late 19th century after Ireland had experienced significant population change caused by factors such as the Great Famine, emigration, rural to urban migration etc. As such, one might expect differences between this data and the distribution of surnames in Ireland in the first half of the 19th century. A further limitation is the fact that it includes only surnames having five or more birth entries thus excluding some of the rarer Irish family names.

Subsidy rolls, 1662-6

Subsidy rolls list the nobility, clergy and laity who paid a grant in aid to the crown. The surviving lists are made up of those of means in the community who were subject to the payment of subsidies, which then formed the government's main method of direct taxation. They include the amount paid and the status of the person. Because they include only the wealthier members of society, they are less useful than hearth money rolls.

Muster Rolls

A muster roll was a list of able-bodied men who were capable of military service. They were armed at their own expense. Several muster rolls survive for Ulster counties from the early seventeenth century. They are usually arranged by estate and consist in the main of a list of names with perhaps the weapons, if any, possessed.

The 'census of Protestant householders', 1740

What has generally been termed a 'census of Protestant householders' was compiled in 1740. The returns were made by the collectors of the hearth money and it has, therefore, been suggested that this 'census' is actually a hearth money roll and for some areas includes Catholics as well. It is no more than a list of names arranged by county, barony and parish and, reflecting its supervision by the inspector responsible for collecting hearth money, it is occasionally divided into 'walks'. Some parishes are also divided into townlands. The original records of this survey were destroyed in Dublin in 1922, but a volume containing transcripts of the original returns is available in the Public Search Room of PRONI.

Fighters of Derry in 1689

For information on those who were involved in the siege of Derry in 1689 and events during the Williamite War in general, the best single source is W.R. Young, Fighters of Derry: Their Deeds and Descendents, Being a Chronicle of Events in Ireland During the Revolutionary Period, 1688-91 (London, 1932). Young compiled biographical sketches for hundreds of those who took part in the conflict, both Jacobites and Williamites. This book contains a fascinating overview of Irish society in the late 17th century, particularly the settler community in northwest Ulster. This database contains the index to this volume, displaying the page number reference for each record.

Scottish Settlers in Ulster

The Reverend David Stewart, a Presbyterian minister and a very active local historian, extracted the names of about 1,000 Scots who were recorded as having been granted denization and naturalisation from the printed calendars.