SEARCHING THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS, IRELAND
The best way to find out about property ownership in Ireland is to look at the films entitled 'Registry of Deeds' at the LDS library. They are indexed and cover the period from about 1708 to 1929. They are indexed either for the whole of Ireland in alphabetical order of the Grantor, or for each County, Corporation Town or City separately.
The deeds are mostly lease agreements but always give a full description of the location of the property and the names of the people involved. There are also marriage agreements and wills included. These are excellent sources of family names and relationships for putting together family trees. In one case, I found an agreement dated 1770 between two sisters and their husbands over the division of their late father's property. (One of the sisters was my 6x great grandmother Sarah Jones.) It gave me details of their father's will which I would never have found any other way. As a result of this document I was able to complete the family records for my 7x great grandfather Thomas Jones of Cork. There are no longer any church records available for that period, and this was the only way I could have found all this out. For all the people who cannot find their relatives in Cork, I would really recommend this method for tracing them.
Although these films can be useful from the point of view of land ownership in Ireland, they are also helpful if your ancestor was a renter because the lease agreements always stipulate the leasee as well and give the exact location of the property being rented.
REGISTRY OF DEEDS INDEX PROJECT, IRELAND
There is now the wonderful Registry of Deeds Index Project for Ireland, organized by Nick Reddan. This index is still a long way from complete but well worth a try before accessing the Registry of Deeds Index films.
The index has now achieved half a million records in the Main Name Index. This is a video of four presentations about the index given at a recent online celebration of the Names Index exceeding 500,000 entries.
THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE AT THE FAMILYSEARCH WEBSITE
Film of all of the original records at The Registry of Deeds, Dublin, Ireland has been digitised and placed on the FamilySearch website.
You can look at the list of films in the FamilySearch Catalog using Place: Ireland. Topic: Land and Property. Title: Registry of Deeds. If you are doing a place name search, use IRELAND as your place, even when you want Tipperary or Cork.
Here is a shortcut: All the film notes are found at:
The sheer number of films in the Registry of Deeds series can be overwhelming at first. Just work through them slowly until you find what you are looking for. Some films come and don't add much at all, others are simply a goldmine.
The deeds consist of legal memorials deposited at the Registry of Deeds, Ireland. A memorial in legal terms was the preservation or recording of an event, and specifically an abstract of the particulars of a deed for registration. A conveyance was a document relating to the transfer of property, usually concerning rental and lease agreements. There are also memorials relating to Wills and Marriage Settlements.
When you look at the list of films on the computer, note that the Registry of Deeds index is listed under two categories:
THE GRANTOR INDEX - SURNAMES FROM THROUGHOUT IRELAND IN ONE INDEX
The first category is called the GRANTOR or surname index and includes deeds from all over Ireland in one index. The surnames used are those of the GRANTOR(S) or principal party in the deed, listed in the index with the surnames in alphabetical order. In the case of a property transaction deed, the Grantor is the landowner or landlord. If you are looking for a leasor (owner), you need to look at this index. Do not use the GRANTOR index to look up the names of tenants, although of course the deed itself will probably list them. If you are looking for a tenant and know the landlord's name, then look in this index only under the landlord's name. In some cases it may be possible to find out the name of the landlord by looking in the Griffith's Valuation records. Each deed in the index also lists the leasees, so you should be able to find the one you are looking for in the case that the landlord has multiple properties and deeds in the index.
THE LAND INDEX - SURNAMES FROM COUNTY CORK LISTED ALPHABETICALLY BY TOWNLAND (prior to 1828) AND BY BARONY AFTER THAT
The second category of indexes is the Land Index. This index is divided up into the counties of Ireland, with the Townlands (land division) listed alphabetically by the first letter for each county. The surnames used in the case of the LAND index are both Grantor (principal party) and Grantee (or secondary party).
Although it is not a hard and fast rule, most of the Grantors are the landlords and most of the Grantees are the tennants. So this is the best index to use if you are looking for an index of tennants.
The land index has the Townlands listed in alphabetical order so you will need to know the townland where your ancestor lived before looking for their name in the Land Index. After 1828 the Land index is further divided by barony, so it is necessary to know the barony in which the townland was located.
The Baronies of Cork are Bantry, Barretts, Barrymore, Beer, East Carbury, West Carbury, Condons & Clongibbons, Courceys, Duhallow, Fermoy, Ibane and Barrymore, Imokilly, Kerricurrihy, Kinnalea, Kinnalmeaky, Kinnatulloon, Kinsale, East Muskerry, West Muskerry, Orrery and Kilmore.
Use the online IreAtlas Townland Database originally compiled by Sean Ruad to help identify placenames. They can be Townlands, Parishes, Baronies or Poor Law Union names, all listed on this website. In many cases the placename may be no longer in use.
To be able to use the Land Indexes, you will need to establish the Townland (for records prior to 1828), and the Barony (for records after this date). There are very good County maps showing the location of the Baronies and Parishes in the book "A New Genealological Atlas of Ireland" by Brian Mitchell published by the Genealogical Publishing Co, 1986. If you know the parish, the IreAtlas Townland Database will give you the Townland and Barony.
Cities and corporation towns have separate indexes arranged alphabtically by street name, district name or vicinity. Corporation towns (incorporated towns) of County Cork are: Bandon, Kinsale and Youghal.
A LIST OF LAND INDEX FILMS FOR THE CITY & COUNTY OF CORK
This film is missing the Townslands A-C at the beginning of the film. We have been reliably informed by the staff at the Registry of Deeds office in Dublin that the first 26 sheets are also missing from the front of their original volume.
County of Cork & Corporate Towns 1780-1809 Volume 8 Film #100400.
City of Cork 1739-1779 Film #100417
City of Cork 1739-1779 Volume 80 images 6-118
City of Cork 1810-1819 Volume 5 Film #100423
County of Cork 1820-1828 Volume 12 Film #100442
County of Cork 1828-1832 Volume 100 Film #100454
City of Cork 1828-1832 Volume 129 Film #100482: images 50-110
The Corporate Towns of Ireland 1828-1832 Volume 130 Film #100483
City of Cork 1833-1835 Volume 135 Film #100485: images 377-422
County of Cork 1833-1835 Volume 137 Film #100486: images 142-484.
County of Cork 1833-1835 Volume 168 Film #100511: images 142-185.
City of Cork 1836-1839 Volume 183 Film #100515: images 324-387.
County of Cork 1836-1839 Volume 185 Film #100516: images 5-459.
County Cork & Corporation Towns 1836 - 1839 Volume 216 & 217 Film #100526
Corporation Towns of Ireland Vol 216 at images 6 - 178
County of Cork 1840-1844 Volume 229 & 230 Film #100531
County of Cork 1840-1844 Volume 266 Film #100541: images 141-200.
City of Cork 1840-1844 Volume 263 Film #100544
Corporation Towns at Images 6 - 182
County of Cork 1845-1849 Volume 278 Film #100547
County of Cork 1845-1849 Volume 315 Film #100557: 132-178.
County of Cork 1850-1854 Volume 328, 329 ! 330 Film #100563
City of Cork 1850-1854 Volume 362 Film #100576
City of Cork at images 61-140.
County of Cork 1855-1859 Volume 378 Film #100579
County of Cork 1855-1859 Volume 416 Film #100589: images 127-177.
County of Cork 1860-1861 Volume 427 Film #100595
County of Cork 1862-1864 Volume 465 Film #100608
City of Cork 1862-1864 Volume 503 Film #100620: images 207-290.
County of Cork 1865-1869 Volume 515, 516 & 517 Film #100628
The County & City of Cork 1865-1869 Volume 552 & 553 Film #100638
City of Cork Vol 552 at images 179-284
County of Cork 1870-1874 Volume 565, 566 & 567 Film #100643
County of Cork 1870-1874 Volume 604 Film #100657: images 160-204.
City of Cork 1870-1874 Volume 614 Film #100661: images 1-136.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1870-1874 Volume 664 Film #100664
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1870-1874 Volume 620 Film #100666
County of Cork 1875-1879 Volume 628, 629 & 630 Film #100669
County of Cork 1875-1879 Volume 631 Film #100670
Cork 1875-1879 Volume 687 Film #100684: images 159-203.
City of Cork 1875-1879 Volume 684 Film #100690: images 189-203.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1875-1879 Volume 685 & 686 Film #100691
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1875-1879 Volume 693 Film #100692
County of Cork 1880-1884 Volume 701, 702, 703 & 704 Film #100695
City of Cork 1880-1884 Volume 760 Film #100708: images 117-150.
City of Cork 1880-1884 Volume 756 Film #100712: images 338-752.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1880-1884 Volume 758 Film #100713
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1880-1884 Volume 759 Film #100714
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1880-1884 Volume 766 Film #100715
County of Cork 1885-1889 Volume 774, 775, 776 & 777 Film #100718
County of Cork 1885-1889 Volume 833 Film #100730: images 114-148.
City of Cork 1885-1889 Volume 829 Film #100734: images 135-227.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1885-1889 Volume 839 Film #100736
County of Cork 1890-1894 Volume 849, 850, 851 & 852 Film #100739
County of Cork (no barony) 1890-1894 Volume 878 Film #100751: images 270-317.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1890-1894 Volume 910 Film #100755
City of Cork 1890-1894 Volume 914 Film #100756: images 46-158.
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1890-1894 Volume 917 Film #100757
County of Cork 1895-1899 Volume 924 Film #100759: images 482-692.
County of Cork 1895-1899 Volume 925, 926 & 927 Film #100760: images 1-450.
City of Cork 1895-1899 Volume 966 Film #100773: images 5-109.
County of Cork (no baronies) 1895-1899 Volume 972 Film #100775: images 113-181.
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1895-1899 Volume 978 Film #100777
County of Cork 1900-1904 Volume 985, 986, 987 & 988 Film #100780
County of Cork (no baronies) 1900-1904 Volume 1023 Film #100791: images 104-156.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1900-1904 Volume 1035 Film #100797
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1900-1904 Volume 1036 Film #574571
City of Cork 1900-1904 Volume 1039 Film #100798: at images 374-473.
City of Cork 1900-1904 Volume 1039 Film #574571: images 6-94.
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1900-1905 Volume 1041 Film #100777
County of Cork 1900-1904 Film #574555
County of Cork 1900-1904 Film #574574: images 5-627.
County of Cork (no baronys) 1900-1904 Vol 1023 Film #574566: images 245-306.
County of Cork (no baronys) 1905-1909 Vol 1023 Film #574700: images 95-150.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1900-1904 Volume 1114 Film #574704
City of Cork 1905-1909 Volume 1117 Film #574705: images 426-532.
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1905-1909 Volume 1120 Film #574707
County of Cork 1910-1914 Vol 1127, 1128, 1129 & 1130 Film #574710
County of Cork (no baronys) 1910-1914 Vol 1164 Film #574724: images 99-144.
Corporation Towns of Ireland 1910-1914 Volume 1170 Film #574726
City of Cork 1910-1914 Volume 1174 Film #579429: images 364-455.
County of Cork 1915-1919 Vol 1193 & 1194 Film #579435
County of Cork 1915-1919 Vol 1195 & 1196 Film #579436
City of Cork (Vol 1242) 1915-1919,
Corporation Towns (vol 1243, 1244 & 1245) 1915-1919,
General Index - All Ireland (Vol 1246) 1915-1919
County of Cork 1920-1929 Volume 1 & 2 Film #579452
County of Cork 1920-1929 Volume 3 & 4 Film #579453
County of Cork (no baronys) 1920-1929 Volume 1 Film #579469: images 173-214.
City of Cork 1920-1929 Volume 1 Film #579471: images 283-494.
General Index to Lands (by townlands, parishes and streets; all counties of Ireland combined in one index) 1905-1909 Volume 1120 Film #579476: images 242-331.
LOOKING FOR THE DEED
When you find the surname you are seeking, the index will give you a Date, Volume number, a page number and a five or six figure deed number.
Your records from the index should look a bit like this:
Then return to the list of films in the catalogue, starting at p8, scroll further down until you find the film for the Volume number of the memorial you need. Double check you have the correct film by matching the date of the memorial you want.
To see the above deed between Francis Hodder (grantor) and Addis (grantee), I need to see Volume 125. Scrolling down I find this entry in the catalogue:
Note that Volume 125 will be the second item on the film, so I will have to I will scroll through Volume 124 until I reach Volume 125. Use the thumbnail photos of the film and look for the title page of Volume 125. (Do not make the mistake of looking for your deed in the wrong volume, always double check the Volume title page and the date covered on the title page at the beginning of the film before starting to look for your deed.)
Since I found the entry in the Grantor Index for 1746-1758, I am pleased to see that this agrees with the date given for this film, so I have double checked I have the correct film.
The Registry of Deeds registered Memorials of Deeds, being the name they were given by the Registry of Deeds Office at the time. It is a Memorial (or copy) of the original deed itself and was written by hand onto a single piece of paper and then copied into a huge ledger by a scribe at the Registry of Deeds. This copy is what you will be reading when you look up your deed in these films. The original deeds which were signed and sealed with red wax by the parties concerned, were taken away by the parties themselves or deposited with their bank or solicitor. They were written on very heavy parchment and measured about a meter square. The original memorials with seals and signatures of some of the parties and witnesses were often retained by The Registry of Deeds, and for a fee you can get a colour photocopy of a memorial.
Once I am sure I am looking at Volume 125 on the film, I scroll through until I find page 268. I should then find deed #85840 on that page. The names of the parties will be written in the margin. You cannot tell until you finally see the Memorial itself what kind of agreement it will be. If this is one for the lease of a property, the landlord is Francis Hodder and the tenant is Addis.
Reading the deeds is not easy, as they use a lot of old-fashioned terms and legalese. They also used abbreviations, for example:
On the whole, the handwriting is very good, or should I say, could be a lot worse. These scribes were professionals. Placenames can be difficult to read, with variable spelling over the years so be flexible.
In many cases, you find the same legal terms repeated in deed after deed and come to realise that much of it is not relevant to the underlying meaning of the deed. Like lawyers today, they are only trying to cover themselves, mentioning every eventuality.
TYPES OF DEEDS FOUND
Land transaction memorials often follow a set pattern. The most important features are the date it was written, names and addresses for the parties (people) concerned, with the added bonus of relationships sometimes explained. There will be a description of the transaction, with lease or release of property being very common. Then there will be a very detailed description of the property, its location, acerage and the names of the adjoining properties: north, south, east and west. There will be a time-limit specified for the lease, and a description of the cost of the lease, or yearly rent and when it is due. Sometimes the actual amount of rent is not specified in the deed, with the words 'for a consideration' being substituted. 'Consideration' in this case means an unspecified sum of money. You can be sure that the amount of the rent or cost of the lease was clearly specified in the original deed and/or with a handshake. There follows a description of the parties signing the deed, and the witnesses, and ending with the name of the Registrar who registered the deed or the Magistrates who witnessed the swearing of the registration. Much importance is attached to the date and time that the deed was finally submitted to The Registry of Deeds office, incase some other interested party should try to beat them to it.
Marriage (or Prenuptual) Agreements are definitely one of the most valuable documents to find at the Registry of Deeds. Clues that you may have found a prenuptual agreement in the Grantors Index will be that the registration date will usually be a few days or months prior to the date of the marriage, but can sometimes be afterwards while the grantor will be the groom and the grantee the bride's father or brother. However, the date of registration of the deed is not the date of the marriage. Although marriage agreements often mention that a dowry has been provided by the bride's family, they are not usually the primary matter in the deed. The amount of the dowry is not usually mentioned. A marriage agreement seems to primarily involve the groom or the groom's family providing for the bride and her future offspring in the event that the groom should predecease her. It served the same purpose that a life insurance policy serves in a family today. Trustees were appointed, usually a brother, father or uncle, one for each family of the bride and the groom. Then the groom agreed to place his property in Trust and make it available to his wife-to-be and any future children at the time of his decease. The entire estate would then be administered by the Trustees to support the survivors. Of course, until the groom actually died, the Trust remained in abeyance, and the property remained fully under the ownership of the groom as before.
In the case of my ancestors, the groom placed his entire estate in the Trust, with a full description, acerage, location and value of each property specified. A woman was seldom appointed as a Trustee, even when she was a widow. In the case of one of my ancestors who was a wealthy widow, her son from a previous marriage was the Trustee for her daughter in the Marriage Agreement.
Apparently it was not compulsory to register these deeds at the Registry of Deeds office, and it all depended on whether the people involved believed in lawyers and authorities. Some did not. But there must be upwards of half a million records on these films and well worth a look, even if your family were renters. In my humble opinion, these records are vastly superior to the Griffiths Valuation that people rely on so much, because they include the names of women and often explain family relationships. I know it is confusing but persevere, and you will soon become familiar with how it all works.Kae Lewis