Surprises in the Tithe Applotment Books

Surprises in the Tithe Applotment Books

The Tithe Applotment Books are a nationwide survey of property undertaken between 1823 and 1838 for the purpose of assessing the rate of the Tithe, a religious tax that was levied for the upkeep of the established church, the Church of Ireland. The Tithe was levied on certain types of agricultural land and as such the survey is certainly not as comprehensive as the later Griffith’s Valuation. However, the Tithe Applotment Books act as a valuable census substitute for the early 19th century.

Tithe Applotment Books

Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Surprises in the Tithe Applotment Books

The books themselves can be quite dry, recording the name of the occupier and the size and value of the titheable land. However, unlike Griffith’s Valuation, the format of the books is not consistent and inspecting the original books can sometimes reveal some surprising information.

Parish of Drumlease Co. Leitrim

The Tithe Applotment Books for the civil parish of Drumlease, Co. Leitrim illustrate one little gem that can be found in this collection. When this particular book was compiled the valuator very kindly included a detailed map of each townland with the name of the occupier written across his lot of land. This is demonstrated in the adjacent image of the townland of Carrickacroghery. Each lot is numbered and named and the opposite page in the book lists the occupiers, the size of their holding in both Irish and English measure, the lot number as marked on the map, the rate per acre and the total applotment.

These maps for this parish are particularly valuable. The Tithe Applotment Books can be used to identify an earlier generation of a family, found in Griffith’s Valuation, on the same land holding in the 1820s or 1830s. In some cases this can be quite straight forward, the same surname appears only once in the townland at the time of the Tithes and Griffith’s Valuation. Often the size of their land holding is similar (although rarely exactly the same). However, in many instances, it can be impossible to match a holding recorded in the late 1820s in the Tithe Applotment Books, with a holding recorded in the 1850s in Griffith’s Valuation. The detailed maps for the parish of Drumlease published with the Tithe Applotment Books have made it very easy to identify the occupier of a single lot in the townland in the 1820s and the occupier of the same lot in Griffith’s Valuation in the 1850s.   The Drumlease Tithe Applotment Book is also interesting because it demonstrates the difference between the Irish and English measure of land, a term also common used in the records of the Registry of Deeds.

Tithe Applotment Books Online

The Tithe Applotment Books are ‘sort of’ online. Microfilm copies of the books have been transcribed by volunteers with the Church of the Latter Day Saints and this database of transcripts was given to the National Archives of Ireland, who published the Tithe Applotment Books on their website: www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie . Unfortunately, this collection is incomplete and missing parishes, including the parish of Drumlease, Co. Leitrim. The quality of the transcriptions are also problematic, with many personal names and townland names incorrectly transcribed and in some cases parishes assigned to the wrong county. However, if you cannot make it to a repository that holds the microfilm copies of the Tithe Applotment Books, the National Archives website is the best place to conduct your search. The best approach to this collection is to simply browse the collection. Select the county, parish and townland that you are interested in and review the images of the original books yourself, rather than rely on the database. 

If the Tithe Applotment Books for the parish that you are interested in are not available online you can contact us to commission a search and copies of the books for a particular townland or parish.