Ballinrobe Local History

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The Books of Survey and Distribution

By John Kelly

Around 1680 The Books of Survey and Distribution were compiled as the result of the Cromwellian wars in the mid-seventeenth century when the English government needed reliable information on land ownership throughout Ireland.   This was to carry out its policy of land distribution and were used to impose the Quit Rent, which was payable yearly on lands granted under terms of the Acts of Settlement and Explanation. It is possible to discover to whom, the confiscated lands were granted so a record of landowners for 1641 and 1680 is known. As a result it is possible to determine the amount of lands lost by the 1641 owners and to discover the names of the new proprietors.

Original books

Although the original books were destroyed, manuscript copies had been made. They consist of 22 volumes and each volume includes an ‘alphabet’ which is an index of denominations. The text includes a physical description of each barony, with details of woods, bogs, rivers, soil, etc.

The contents

The information is laid out in tabular form on a barony and parish basis. The details include:

Proprietors in 1641 by the Civil Survey

Denominations of lands by the Downe Survey

Number of acres distributed

Persons to whom distributed

Rent per annum payable to His Majesty

Surviving Volumes

The surviving volumes cover the following counties: Kilkenny, Waterford, Kerry, Kildare, Carlow, Wexford, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Tipperary, Monaghan, Armagh, Limerick, Westmeath, Clare, Roscommon, Galway, Cork, Down, Antrim, Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Fermanagh, King’s and Queen’s Counties, Wicklow, Donegal, Londonderry and Tyrone.

This page was added by Averil Staunton on 27/08/2011.