Census records

Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Irish Census Substitutes

Muster Rolls
1641 Depositions
Books of Survey & Distribution
The Civil Survey
Pender's Census
Subsidy Rolls
Hearth Money Rolls
Cess Tax Accounts

1521-1603 Fiants

The Irish fiants of the Tudor sovereigns during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Philip & Mary, and Elizabeth I (4 vols., Dublin: Edmund Burke, 1994; NLI Ir 94105 I 1). These documents, unique to Ireland, were created to facilitate the issuing of royal grants and were originally published as a series of appendices to the Reports of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records in Ireland in the late nineteenth century. For many of those Irish chieftains who submitted to English authority under the policy of surrender and regrant, they give long lists of extended family and followers.

1612 Undertakers

The Historical Manuscripts Commission Report, 4, (Hastings Mss) gives lists of English and Scottish large landlords granted land in the northern counties of Cavan, Donegal, and Fermanagh. These were known as undertakers.

1630 Muster Rolls

These are lists of large landlords in Ulster, and the names of the able-bodied men that they could assemble to fight if the need arose. They are arranged by county, and by district within the county. The Armagh County Museum copy is available in the National Library of Ireland (Positive microflim 206). Published lists are noted under the relevant county, along with later lists in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

1641 Depositions

These are eye-witness testimonies given mainly by Protestants, but also by some Catholics, from all social backgrounds, concerning their experiences of the 1641 Rebellion in Ireland. They provide vivid accounts of the events of that year and also list large numbers of people accused of participation in the rebellion or claiming to have suffered loss. Along with the victories of King William at the Boyne in 1690 and Aughrim in 1691, and the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the events they record have long been fundamental to the identity and culture of Unionist Protestants in Ireland, especially in Ulster. They are now all online at 1641.tcd.ie.

1641 Books of Survey and Distribution

After the wars of the mid seventeenth century, the English government needed solid information on land ownership throughout Ireland to carry out its policy of land redistribution. The Books of Survey and Distribution record ownership before the Cromwellian and Williamite confiscations, c.1641, and after, c.1666

The Books for Clare, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon have been published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission. For other counties, manuscript copies are available at the National Library.

1654-56 The Civil Survey

This too was a record of land ownership in 1640, compiled between 1655 and 1667, and fuller than the Books of Survey and Distribution. It contains a great deal of topographical and descriptive information, as well as details of wills and deeds relating to land title. It has survived for twelve counties only, Cork, Derry, Donegal, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Meath, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford and Wexford. All of these have been published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

1659 Pender's Census

This was compiled by Sir William Petty, also responsible for the Civil Survey, and records the names of persons with title to land ( tituladoes ), the total numbers of English and Irish living in each townland, and the principal Irish names in each barony. Five counties, Cavan, Galway, Mayo, Tyrone and Wicklow, are not covered. The work was edited by Seamus Pender and published in 1939. (NLI I 6551 Dublin)

1662 Subsidy Rolls

These list the nobility, clergy and laity who paid a grant in aid to the King. They supply name and parish, and, sometimes, amount paid and occupation. They relate principally to counties in Ulster.

1664 Hearth Money Rolls

The Hearth Tax was levied on the basis of the number of hearths in each house; these Rolls list the householders' names, as well as this number. They seem to be quite comprehensive. Details of surviving lists will be found under the relevant counties. For the copies of the Hearth Money Rolls listed in The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland under "T.307", an index is available on the Public Search Room shelves.

Cess Tax Accounts

Cess (from an abbreviation of assessment) was a very elastic term, which could be applied to taxes levied for a variety of reasons. In Ireland it was very often to support a military garrison. The accounts generally consist of lists of householders names, along with amounts due.
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