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Register of Deeds/Register of Titles (Ireland)

Nature of Source

There are two separate systems for recording transactions in relation to property in Ireland:
The Registry of Deeds system operated by the Registry of Deeds.
The Registration of Title system operated by the Land Registry.
Both forms of registration are managed by the Property Registration Authority

Register of Deeds
Records from the register of land transfers and tenancies recorded on a voluntary basis and held at the Registry of Deeds. The registry was established in 1708 as a means of formally registering land transfers and tenancies, mainly from the indigenous population to the Protestants who had acquired property over the preceding century. Although the registry was primarily used as a land registry, the registry contains other useful genealogical information on mortgages, marriage settlements, wills, conveyance and annuities, rents, rights of way and business partnerships. The registry is indexed under two indexes. The first is the Names/Grantors Index which has the names of those disposing of or giving the land or property. Those receiving the property (the grantee) are stated by surname but are not indexed. The other index is the Townland/Place Index which is an index of all transactions by the townland within each county giving the family name of the grantor and grantee.

The Registry was only a voluntary system and mainly deals with the wealthy, so only a fraction of the population appear. The Registry was established during legislation aimed at limiting Catholic tenure of land, so up to 1782 most transactions mainly deal with Protestants. Up to 1832 many copies of wills were lodged with the Registry. The original deed was returned to the owner and a summary called a Memorial (now replaced by the Application Form) was kept at the Registry in volumes known as Transcript Books.

The presence of a name in the registry should be followed up with searches in the Tithe Applotment Books and the Griffith's Valuation which both offer better genealogical information, at least from the 1830s.

Perhaps the greatest value of the registry records is the potential for establishing an unbroken series of family related names. If the same family registered property deeds over a number of years, the registry could reveal two or three generations. The accompanying documents could also provide information on children and other family members.

The registry also collected marriage settlements as part of the conveyancing process and property arrangements. The documents should provide the names, addresses and occupations of the bride and groom and bride's father. This information is particularly useful as it could provide definitive evidence of a family relationship and other possible family links. With so many wills destroyed, the details of a case concerning a disputed will outlined in the registry could represent the only surviving evidence of a will. The register now comes under the authority of the Property Registration Authority.

Register of Titles
Records from the Register of Titles held at the Land Registry established in 1892. The registers provide details of the ownership of land and property and any burdens, such as mortgages, leases and charges, affecting the property. The particulars are entered on folios which form the registers. The Land Registry also holds accompanying maps to each folio which contains a map reference number. If no individual map exists then the property will be shown on a master map. A name index of the Register of Titles is available which contains the names and addresses of every registered owner as well showing the appropriate folio number. The register now comes under the authority of the Property Registration Authority.

Also consider consulting the Books of Survey and Distribution. These were compiled following Cromwell's victory in the civil war and his conquest of Ireland. The Acts of Settlement and Explanation in the 1640s provided the legal framework for the forced seizure of Royalist land (mainly Catholic) and for the distribution of that land to Protestants. The books record land ownership arranged by barony, parish and townland before the forced sale in 1641 and then the new owners following the transfers. Manuscript copies are available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and National Library of Ireland. Some volumes have been published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

The Civil Survey of Ireland of 1654 details the names of landowners and the property held in 1649 and was used as a basis for the distribution of property to the victorious Protestants. The records survive for about half of Ireland.

The Census of Ireland circa 1659 compiled by Sir William Petty lists the major landowners (Tituladoes) of Ireland only as well as the number of inhabitants in each townland broken down into the English, Scots and Irish.

The Encumbered Estates Acts of 1848 and 1849 allowed for the sale of bankrupt estates following the devastation caused by the Great Famine. The papers include the names of the parties involved and the date and the names of tenants on each estate, their rents and tenure.

See Also
Surname Origins and Distribution

Where Found

Registry of Deeds (Property Registration Authority: Index of Grantors: Alphabetical index of all parties granting [selling] the land, including the landlord and the mortgagee. The Index of Grantors is not indexed by the buyer or grantee; Lands or Townland Index: Place index based on townlands which can be used to locate the volume, page and memorial number. The Registry of Deeds, established in 1708, records land or tenancy transfers based on the voluntary registration of deeds. The deeds are copied into registers which provide a summary known as a Memorials. For contact details see here)
Land Registry (Property Registration Authority: Register of Titles)
The National Library of Ireland (Copies of the Index of Grantors and the Lands or Townland Index)
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) (Copies of the Index of Grantors and the Lands or Townland Index)
LDS FamilySearch Centers (Copies of the Index of Grantors and the Lands or Townland Index)

Period Covered

1708 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Register of Deeds
Names of all parties (grantor and grantee), address/location of property or land, land held, occupations, family relationships. Sometimes the date of owner's death. Names of witnesses, their occupation, status and nature of their relationship to the parties.
Register of Titles
Name of registered owner and their interest in the property. Description of property and maps.

Further References

Register of Deeds Related
 
Eustace, Beryl, P. & Ellis, E. Registry of Deeds, Dublin: Abstracts of Wills 1708-1832: Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1954-1984 Buy Now on Amazon
Nugent, Brian. A Guide to the 18th Century Land Records in the Irish Registry of Deeds: Brian Nugent, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Family History Guides  

Adolph, Anthony. Collins Tracing Your Irish Family History: HarperCollins, 2007

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Begley, Donal. Handbook on Irish Genealogy: How to Trace Your Ancestors and Relatives: Heraldic Artists, 1984

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Connell, Gretta. Tracing Your Westmeath Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Corrigan, Mario &  Durney, James & Kiely, Karel. Tracing your Kildare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Davis, Bill. Irish Ancestry - A Beginner's Guide: FFHS, 2001

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Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scottish-Irish Ancestral Research: GPC, 1981 (1962)

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Franklin, Margaret. Tracing your Limerick Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Grenham, John. Irish Ancestors, A Pocket Guide to Your Family History: Gill & Macmillan, 2004

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Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: Gill & Macmillan, 2011

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Hamrock, John. Tracing your Roscommon Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon

Kinealy, Christine. Tracing Your Irish Roots: Appletree Press, 2009

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McCarthy, Tony. The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1991

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McCarthy, Tony & Cadogan, Tim. Tracing Your Cork Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2011 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Ancestors in Northern Ireland: A Guide to Ancestry Research in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Stationery Office, 1997

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Maxwell, Ian. Researching Armagh Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Maxwell, Ian. Researching Down Ancestors: A Practical Guide for the Family and Local Historian: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon

Maxwell, Ian. How To Trace Your Irish Ancestors: How To Books, 2009

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Maxwell, Ian. Your Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2008

Maxwell, Ian. Tracing Your Northern Irish Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen and Sword, 2010

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Meehan, Helen & Duffy, Godfrey. Tracing Your Donegal Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Basic Guide to Irish Records for Family History: Clearfield Company, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Mitchell, Brian. Tracing Derry-Londonderry Roots: Clearfield Company, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Connor, Michael H. Tracing your Kerry Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 1994 Buy Now on Amazon
O'Dowd, Peadar. Tracing your Galway Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon

Ouimette, David. Finding Your Irish Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide: Ancestry.com, 2005

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Paton, Chris. Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide For Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Prochaska, Alice, Irish History from 1700: A Guide to Sources in the Public Record Office: British Records Association, 1986

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Raymond, Stuart. Irish Family History on the Web: The Family History Partnership, 2007

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Roulston, William. Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600-1800: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2005

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Ryan, James. Irish Records: Sources for Family & Local History: Flyleaf Press, 1997

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Ryan, James & Smith, Brian. Tracing Your Dublin Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Ryan, James. Tracing your Sligo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2012 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian. Tracing your Mayo Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Brian & Kennedy, Gerry. Tracing Your Clare Ancestors: Flyleaf Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Stewart, Alan. My Ancestor Was Irish: A Guide to Sources for Family Historians: Society of Genealogists, 2012

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Other  
Bradshaw's Railway Map Great Britain and Ireland 1852: Mapseeker Publishing, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Connolly, S.J. The Oxford Companion to Irish History: Oxford University Press, 2007 Buy Now on Amazon
Coogan, Tim, Pat. The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Dickson, R.J. Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, 1718-1775: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1976 Buy Now on Amazon
Grenham, John. The Little Book of Irish Clans and Tartans: Book Sales, 1995 Buy Now on Amazon
Robinson, Philip. Plantation of Ulster: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2000 Buy Now on Amazon
Smith, Paul & Turner, Keith. Railway Atlas of Ireland Then & Now: Ian Allan Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon

Websites

www.landregistry.ie/eng/About_Us/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Registry_of_Deeds_FAQs.html (Registry of Deeds FAQs)
www.landregistry.ie/eng/About_Us/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Land_Registry_FAQs1.html (Land Registry FAQs)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/records/deeds/index.htm (Registry of Deeds: The Scope of the Records)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/records/deeds/regist.htm (Land Registration)
www.irishabroad.com/yourroots/expert/landrecords.asp (Land Records in Ireland, by Kyle J. Betit)
www.buildinghistory.org/taxation.shtml (Historic property taxation and valuation in Britain and Ireland)
www.nireland.com/genealogy/land_and_property.html (Land and Property Records)
www.bifhsgo.ca/upload/files/Articles/LandEstateAndFreeholdersRecordsInIreland.pdf (Land, Estate and Freeholders Records in Ireland, by Kyle J. Betit)
www.irish-genealogy-toolkit.com/index.html (Irish Genealogy Toolkit will guide you to your Irish ancestors)
https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Ireland_Land_and_Property (FamilySearch Research Wiki: Ireland Land and Property)
www.eneclann.ie/NLI-Lectures/MaryBeglan.pdf (The Registry of Deeds-Records To Trace Your Family History, by Mary Beglan)
www.irishtimestraining.com (Online Tracing your Irish Ancestors Course designed and presented by the genealogist John Grenham. The 11 modules will give you the tools and techniques to comprehensively trace your Irish family history. The online tutorials will provide you with a wide-ranging guide to all the records, resources and research techniques you will need)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse (A county-by-county listing of relevant records)
www.rootsweb.com/~nirwgw (Information on Northern Irish counties and available resources)
www.iar.ie (Irish Archives Resource: The site contains information about archival collections open for public research in Ireland from many organisations, societies, political organisations and businesses)
https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/lesson/getting-started-in-irish-genealogy/594 (FamilySearch.org: Learning Center Online Genealogy Course: Getting Started in Irish Genealogy. Lecture designed to acquaint beginning genealogist with strategies and sources for getting started in Irish genealogy)
www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/irish-records-what-is-available/church-records (Irish Genealogy: Research in Ireland: Irish Records: What Is Available?)
www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/irish-genealogical-research-getting-started/how-to-start-your-family-history (Irish Genealogy: How To Start Your Family History)
www.cyndislist.com/ireland.htm (Ireland genealogy links)
www.irelandgenweb.com (Information on Irish counties and available resources)
www.rootsweb.com/~fianna (Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy)
www.thecore.com/seanruad (IreAtlas Townland database)
www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/placenames (1851 General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, parishes and Baronies of Ireland)

Online Databases

http://irishdeedsindex.net/index.html (Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland. The purpose of this project is to index all of the names that appear in the memorial books at the registry of deeds. The Registry of Deeds is located in Henrietta Street, Dublin, Ireland and is a repository of records of wills, land transactions in Ireland and other deeds from 1709. While the original purpose of the Registry of Deeds was to enforce rules limiting the land transactions of Catholics, even before the removal of these rules in 1782 many Catholics and representatives of Catholic families appear in the memorials. Many memorials involved people of modest means who were merchants and traders who registered deeds to provide some form of security of tenure. Moreover, Catholic occupiers are sometimes mentioned)
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~registryofdeeds (Registry of Deeds Index Project: Index all of the names that appear in the memorial books at the registry of deeds)
www.irishancestors.ie/?page_id=5392 (Irish Genealogical Research Society: Index of Townlands, 1901: Searchable database of over 64,000 townlands in Ireland which are ancient land divisions measuring from just a few acres to several hundred and still in use today)

CD Roms

Archive CD Books (Including Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland and other gazateers and guides)
www.eneclann.ie (Including Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland and other gazetteers and guides)