While no complete set of census returns survives for the period before 1901, there are two record classes which provide partial substitutes:
The Tithe Applotment Books which are available to search on the NAI’s genealogy website, were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland (the main Protestant church and the church established by the State until its dis-establishment in 1871). There is a manuscript book for almost every parish in the country giving the names of occupiers, the amount of land held and the sums to be paid in tithes. These records are available to consult online and in the Reading Room on microfilm and while the books for Northern Ireland are in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), there are microfilm copies for the northern counties in the National Archives.
The Tithe Defaulters lists (held by the National Archives under Official Papers Miscellaneous Assorted series) detail people involved in the infamous Tithe War of 1831-1838. From 1831 onwards, many people refused to pay the tithe and so began the Tithe War, which was fiercest in Leinster and Munster. The names of people who refused to pay their tithe were recorded by the Church of Ireland clergy.
The Clergy Relief Fund was established in 1832 to assist affected clergy and tithe defaulters are listed in 127 surviving schedules. Each schedule lists the defaulter’s address and the sum due while some also list defaulters’ landholding and occupation. Details of clergy who applied for financial relief under the fund – listed in the 127 schedules – are outlined in ‘The Clergy Relief Fund, 1831: tithe defaulters’ by Suzanne C Hartwick in The Irish Genealogist (volume 8, 1990). A partial list covering twelve counties is available as The 1831 Tithe Defaulters cd-rom compiled and edited by Stephen McCormac (Eneclann, 2004).
The Primary Valuation (also known as Griffith’s Valuation) was published between 1847 and 1864. There is a printed valuation book for each barony or poor law union in the country showing the names of occupiers of land and buildings, the names of persons from whom these were leased and the amount and value of the property held. These records are available to consult on microfiche in our Reading Room and can also be searched free of charge at www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.
The National Archives also holds the following preliminary records for the Primary Valuation: Field Books, House Books, Mill Books, Quarto Books and Tenure Books.
The following finding aids to the Tithe Applotment Books and Primary Valuation are available to consult in the Reading Room:
- List of the Tithe Applotment Books arranged by Church of Ireland parish;
- List of the Primary Valuation books arranged by civil parish;
- Combined list of the Tithe Applotment Books and Primary Valuation arranged by county, barony and civil parish;
- Indexes of Surnames in the Tithe Applotment Books and Primary Valuation books (one or more volumes per county);
- List of books relating to the preliminary valuation arranged by type and then by county, barony and civil parish.
A cd-rom index to the Tithe Applotment Books for counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone is available as Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1838 while a cd-rom index to the Primary Valuation is available as Index to Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland, 1848-1864 (both from Genealogical Publishing Co Ltd, Baltimore, USA).