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18th century sources

Family group Tithe applotment book Parish church
Landed estate archives, the Grand Jury presentments and Wills (referred to in 19th century sources for family history) frequently go back into the 18th and late 17th centuries.
In addition, there are other important 18th century records of value to the family historian. These include:

Voters, Poll and Freeholders’ Records

Scattered among the private archives, these record the names and addresses of those entitled to vote at elections or who actually voted at an election.  All pre-1840 freeholders’ records have been indexed and digitised and are available on the Public Record Office of Northern Irelan (PRONI) website.

1740 Census of Protestant Householders

Parliament ordered a census of Protestant householders in 1740.  Unfortunately, the original returns were lost in the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland (Dublin) in 1922.  All that has survived are transcripts made by Tenison Groves, an antiquarian working in the Public Record Office of Ireland before 1922 (main PRONI Reference T808).  Only the names of householders are given by parish and townland or simply by parish.  The most extensive lists are for Counties Antrim and Londonderry.

1766 religious Census

In 1766, Church of Ireland rectors were ordered by government to compile lists of householders in their parishes, indicating their religion.  These were lost in the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922.  All that has survived are some transcripts made by Tenison Groves, an antiquarian working in the Public Record Office of Ireland before 1922 (main PRONI Reference T808).

Flaxgrowers’ List, 1796

In 1796, as part of a government initiative to encourage the linen industry in Ireland, free spinning wheels or looms were granted to farmers who agreed to plant a certain acreage of their holdings with flax.  Arranged by county and parish, some 56,000 names are recorded (main PRONI Reference T/3419).  A microfiche index is also available (main PRONI Reference MF/7/1).

Church Records

Some 250 churches in Northern Ireland and in Counties Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan have 18th century records of some description.
See PRONI’s Guide to Church Records (available in the Search Room) for further details.

Militia, Volunteers and Yeomanry Records

Largely recruited from the poorer classes and commanded by the landed gentry, the militia was a local defence force normally raised when there was a threat of foreign invasion.  The militia was raised by local constables who were responsible for drawing up lists of Protestant able bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 in their area.  A ballot was then held to determine who would be called up for service.  Most of the surviving lists of names of men and officers are for the 18th century, but some do go back into the 17th century.

Volunteers

The Volunteers emerged in 1778 to defend Ireland from a possible French invasion when regular British soldiers were withdrawn to fight in America during the American War of Independence.  For a period, the defence of Ireland and maintenance of law and order was almost entirely in the hands of independent Volunteer companies.  Unlike the regular military forces, they were never commanded by government officials and recruited both Presbyterians and Roman Catholics.  However, they soon then got involved in political affairs, particularly the campaign for increased powers to be granted to the Irish Parliament which was achieved in 1782.  They were eventually outlawed in 1792.
For surviving lists of men who served in the Volunteers see Family Tree Leaflet 12 – Militia, Yeomanry Lists and Muster Rolls (34KB) Adobe PDF formatted document Opens a new browser window..

Yeomanry

The Yeomanry were formed in 1796 to combat the threat of a possible French invasion but were also to perform police duties in support of the magistracy.  Corps of cavalry and infantry were raised in every county under officers commissioned by the Crown and appointed by the Lord Lieutenant.  Although initially many Roman Catholics joined the Yeomanry, it later became a largely Protestant force that was not disbanded until 1834.
For surviving lists of men who served in the Yeomanry see Family Tree Leaflet 12 – Militia, Yeomanry Lists and Muster Rolls (34KB) Adobe PDF formatted document Opens a new browser window..
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