Rental Records answers to lack of records in Ireland?



Rental Records are the private records of the landlords or their agents


Rentals are the private records of the landlords or their agents. They are particularly important in Ireland where land ownership was restricted, and tenancy was the norm. Although hugely variable in format, almost all contain at least names, places and dates of tenancies. Their format usually varies according to a) size of estate, b) who is making the record, and c) nature of tenancy. In short, large estates kept detailed records, whereas smaller estates knew their tenants and details were not needed. Many large estates were owned by ‘absentee landlords’ who lived in England and rarely visited Ireland. These estates were managed by Estate Agents who sent regular reports to the landlord. These contain what an estate owner would wish to know, i.e., tenants, rental income, reasons for nonpayment, actions taken, issues affecting future income, etc. Finally, there were different forms of tenancy including ‘tenant at will’ status, to rental for a period of years, to tenant for ‘lives’, i.e., held for as long as defined persons survived. The latter status is sometimes defined within a rental. They are valuable as the lives are often of family members, particularly children. This talk explored the nature and range of rentals, their historical background and evolution during the 1600s to 1900; type of information they contain and where they can be found. It was fully illustrated with examples of records and their content. By the way, Flyleaf Press have got a ‘little list!’ A dilemma which is regularly presented to us when we are researching new guides is: how big does a source have to be before we include it? A rental with 80 names (particularly pre-1840s) is definitely worth a mention, but what about a list of 12 people who were given permission to cut turf, or 17 servants in some big house? These people are undoubtedly of interest to someone’s research, but in practice, we cannot highlight all of them. So what we have been doing is to include them in our blog for anyone to access. So far we have posted nine such sources: including schoolchildren in Kerry; tradesmen and workers in Wexford and Limerick; and tenants in Carlow, Galway and Waterford. More will follow and if you have connection with these, let Flyleaf know.