Endowed Schools and Estate Papers

Endowed Schools and Estate Papers

Endowed Schools and Estate Papers

While searching for records for Midleton School, an Endowed School in Cork in the National Library of Ireland, I stumbled across the papers of Dr. Michael Quane, which included potentially useful 19th century estate rentals, valuations and a mini census of the protestant families of Maryborough from 1891.

Michael Quane was born on 7th April 1889 in Ardfert, Co. Kerry. He was educated at Ardfert, Tralee and the Skerries Civil Service College in Dublin and he entered the civil service (the Irish Land Commission) in 1915. By 1926 he was transferred to the Department of Education, where he remained until 1954 when he retired. He was a Principal Officer and Inspector of Endowed Schools. Quane published numerous histories of the Endowed Schools of Ireland in various journals such as the Dublin Historical Record, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries and Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaelogical Society. A list of his published school histories can be found at the end of this article.

It would appear that during the course of his work as Inspector of Endowed Schools, Quane had gathered the records of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, which included records of the administration of land belonging to the Commission, correspondence and other potentially valuable odds and ends. His papers, deposited in the National Library of Ireland, can be located using the Sources Catalogue on the National Library of Ireland website.

Endowed Schools are those which were established and financially supported with income from lands, Parliamentary grants, the Crown or bequests from private benefactors for the purposes of public instruction. For example, the Royal Free Schools, established under James I in 1612, were supported with grants of confiscated land. The Preston School in Ballyroan, of which we will be dealing with later, was established on the endowment bequeathed by Alderman Preston in 1686. Many of the Endowed Schools in Ireland relied on the income generated from land that had been granted or bequeathed for their establishment. The administration of land in Ireland generated records such as rentals, accounts and leases. It is these records that can prove valuable for genealogical research, identifying tenants on an estate in an area for which few other records survive.

In 1813 legislation was introduced which established Commissioners for the Regulation of the several Endowed Schools of Public and Private Foundation in Ireland, to supervise the management of the funds and revenues of the schools and private foundations. Known as “The Clare Street Commissioners” this body was vested with control over the financial assets of Diocesan, royal and endowed schools, which means that they would have held the records regarding income from rentals, leases, etc.

When the Commission was dissolved in 1925 their assets were transferred to the Department of Education and it would appear that it is the archives of the Commission that is found in the papers of Dr. Michael Quane. The papers include rentals, valuations and observation books from the various estates that came under the control of the “Clare Street Commission”.

Endowed Schools: Estate Rentals

One such example is a Rental of Estates for the Incorporated Society for Promoting Protestant Schools in Ireland dated 1879 (Ref. NLI Ms. 17,9740). The rental ledger recorded the Denomination of Land (Townland), Name of Tenant, Valuation and Acerage, Yearly Rent, Tenure and Observations. In some cases tenure was a 99 year lease dating from the 18th century with notes on the lives of the lease since expired. The Society’s estates were listed as follows:


  • Ranelagh Estate (Roscommon and Westmeath)
  • Pococke Estate (Kilkenny and Waterford)
  • Dundalk Estate (Down and Louth, Antrim and Armagh)
  • Primrose Grange Estate (Sligo)
  • Farra Estate (Westmeath)
  • Celbridge Estate (Dublin and Kildare)
  • Arklow Estate (Wicklow)
  • Santry Estate (Dublin)
  • Cashel Estate (Tipperary)
  • Clonmel Estate (Tipperary)
  • Newport Estate (Tipperary)
  • Ray Estate (Donegal)
  • Stradbally Estate (Queen’s County)
  • Trim Estate (Meath)
  • Lady Maude’s Trust Estate (Westmeath)
  • Rogerson’s Cork Estate (Cork)
  • Dean Stewart’s Estate (Louth)
  • Rogerson’s Dublin Estate (Dublin)
  • Mitchell’s Bequest Estate (Dublin and Tipperary)
  • Baggot Street Estate ( Dublin)
  • Kevin Street Estate (Dublin)
  • York Row Estate (Dublin)
  • Clonarke Estate (Roscommon)

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Endowed Schools: Observation Books

Another part of Quane’s collection found a book of observations on the estates of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland at Cappaloughlin in the parish of Cloneagh West, Barony of Maryborough, Queen’s County which was the estate of the Endowed Schools of Navan and Ballyroan, which were vested by Act of Parliament in The Commissioners of Education in Ireland in 1816. (Ref: NLI Ms. 16925).

This collection recorded the denomination (Townland), the lessee and the names of the tenants with a detailed description of the property, for example:

Newtown Lot No. 1 Denis Conrahy (Lessee)

Tenants: William and Pat Mooney: Cabin & Garden (1 rood 4 perches), Arable (5 roods), Pasture (2 acres 13 perches), Arable (2 acres 1 rood 26 perches), Cabins and Gardens (1 rood), Pasture (3 roods 9 perches), Pasture formerly Tilled (3 roods 8 acres) and Meadow (3 roods 17 perches). Total valuation £9.16s.6½d.

The same book also included observations on the Royal Free School Lands of Banagher in the King’s County and Royal Free School Lands of Carysfort, alias Sheanamore in the County of Wicklow. The observations recorded for the townland of Carysfort are as follows:

Townland of Carysfort

Observations: This improvement of this Estate has been very much retarded and its present value consequently diminished by the manner in which it is occupied, the arable and meadow grounds are possessed by seventeen tenants in various proportions, all residing in one Village, with their grounds in various detached pieces throughout the townland and all graze the coarse ground and mountain in common. A considerable proportion of the coarse land occupied in common was formerly in cultivation and much more of it capable of being reclaimed which improvement will allways be impractible so long as the common occupation continues. The tenantry are too numerous proportioned to the extent of the arable ground. Were the solvent or more industrious portion of the tenants selected (with particular attention to some who are woollen weavers) about 10 or 12 families might be accommodated by judicious arrangements in dividing the lands anew into regular compact farms, obliging each tenant to build and reside on their own holdings. To accomplish such arrangement it would be well worth sacrificing a certain proportion of the income for one or two years. The following nearly as we could ascertain is the proportion in which the sundry tenants occupy the ground:

Margaret Carter (widow) and Joseph Stephenson 1/4

Edward Harney 1/16

Daniel Doyle 1/16

Richard Murphy 1/8

Jane Andrew and Hugh Wybrants 1/8

James Butler, Samuel Price Michael Tighe and Patrick Butler 1/8

William Davies, Thomas Carr, Martin Doyle and Edward Kehoe 1/8

James Critchley 1/8

Andrew Carter the elder who was formerly School Master occupied a proportion of these grounds estimated about one fourth part in Consideration of his services in Keeping the School. He divided the lands in equal shares between his two sons Andrew and Thomas, Andrew succeeded him in Charge of the School and enjoyed his share of the land to the time of his deceased and Thomas let his moity for which he paid no rent, to Joseph Stephenson the present occupier. Margaret Carter the widow of the late Andrew Carter has substituted William Price as School Master in the room of her late Husband and occupies the land as heretofore.

The observations give us great insight into the administration of the countryside by some estate owners as well as listing the tenants, the proportion of the land that they hold and more detailed biographical information on the Carter family.

Endowed Schools: Census of Maryborough

While searching this Dr. Quane’s papers, I came across a list of Protestant inhabitants living in the town of Marybrough and surrounding district whose children might be expected to avail themselves of an intermediate Educational Establishment located at Maryborough (Ref: NLI Ms. 17,914). The list appears to have been compiled in 1891 and was found in a collection of papers relating to Ballyroan Endowed School or the Preston School. Ballyroan was the first post primary school established in Co. Laois, known as Preston School because it was endowed by Alderman John Preston ca. 1686. In 1891 there was discussion about removing the school from Ballyroan in order to sell the lands and re-establishing it at Abbeyleix or Maryborough. The list was obviously compiled to determine the demand for such as school in Maryborough.

The list recorded the name of the child, their gender, age and the name, residence and occupation of the parent. This is something of a census of the protestant population of the Maryborough area and includes the children of postmasters, prison warders, petty session clerks, band masters, compositors, merchants, carpenters and ministers among others. George Snowdon, bandmaster of the 4th Leinster Regiment recorded his children; Ethel (7), Clarissa (8½), Edith (4) and Raymond (10). Richard E. Odlum, miller, recorded his children; William (13), Francis (12), Eveline (10), Digby (9), Richard (7½), Arthur (6) and Clara (5). Just a decade before the 1901 census, this list may identify children who did not survive the next decade or families such as RIC or Army, who since left Maryborough.

This is an unusual collection that is filled with a miscellany of interesting items that in some way document parts of the population and may prove vital for some family history research.

The articles published by Dr. Michael Quane are as follows:

Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, Ireland (as member)

  • D’Israeli School, Rathvilly, Vol. LXXVIII. Pt. 1 1946
  • Pococke School, Kilkenny. Vol. LXXX. Pt. 1 1950
  • John Ivory School, New Ross. VOl. LXXX Pt. II 1950
  • Midleton School, Co. Cork. VOl. LXXXII Pt. I 1952
  • Banna School, Ardfert. Vol. LXXXiV Pt. II 1954
  • Carrickmacross – Viscount Weymouth Grammer School. VOl. LXXXVI Pt. 1 1956
  • Charleville Endowed School Vol. LXXXVIII Pt. 1 1958
  • Friends’ Provincial School, Mountmellick. Vol. LXXXIX pt. 1 1959
  • City of Dublin Free School. Vol. XC. Pt. II 1960
  • Carysfort Royal School, Co. Wicklow. VOl. XCI Pt. II 1961
  • Mercer’s School Dublin. Vol. XCIII Pt. 1 1963
  • Quaker Schools in Dublin. Vol. 94 Pt. 1 1964
  • Bishop Hodson’s Grammer School, Elphin. VOl. 96. Pt. 2 1966

Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society (as member)

  • Castledermot Charter School. Vol. XIII. No. 9 19613
  • Hewetson’s School, Clane, Co. Kildare. Vol. XIV. No. 1. 1964-5

Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (as member)

  • Waterford Corporation Free School. Vol. LXIV. No. 200. 1959
  • The Abbey School, Tipperary. Vol. LXV. 1960
  • The Diocesan School. Vol. LXVII 1962
  • Clonmel Free School. Vol. LXIX Pt. 1 No. 200 Jan-June 1964 & Vol. LXX 1965
  • Bishop Foy School, Waterford. Vol. LXXI. 1966

Journal of the Co. Louth Archaeological Society (as member)

  • Drogheda Grammar School. Vol. XV. 3 1963
  • Viscount Limerick Grammar School, Dundalk. Vol. XVI. I. 1965

Dublin Historical Record (Journal of the Old Dublin Society) as member:

  • Borough School, Swords, Co. Dublin Vol. XV. No. 1. 1956-58
  • Royal Hibernian Military School, Phoenix Park. Vol. XVIII. No. 1 1962 & XVIII No. 2 1963
  • Feinaillian Institution, Dublin. Vol. XIX. No. 2. March 1964
  • Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. Vol. XX. No. 2 March 1965
  • Hibernian Marine School, Dublin Vol. XXI. No. 2 March 1967

North Munster Antiquarian Journal (as member)

  • Ennis Grammar School Vol. X. No. 1 1966




The Tablet, 12th April 1879

National Library of Ireland

Ms. 17983 Dr. Michael Quane Papers, Biographical Note

Ms. 17,974 Dr. Michael Quane Papers, Rental of Estates for the Incorporated Society

Ms. 16925 Dr. Michael Quane Papers, Valuation survey of estates of Commrs of Education in Ireland 1816

Ms. 17,914 Dr. Michael Quane Papers, Ballyroan Endowed School

Image: D’Israeli Endowed School Co. Carlow: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlcar2/Disraeli_School.htm