This week I had a chance to use a new Windows CD-ROM of Irish genealogy information containing valuable records that many Irish researchers do not even know exist. During the infamous Tithe War of 1831-38, all Irish occupants of land were required to pay an annual tithe (or religious tax) of 10% of the agricultural produce generated by that holding. This money was demanded from all landholders, irrespective of their religion, and was paid directly to the official state church, the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church of Ireland.
Many Irish genealogists are familiar with the Tithe Applotment Books, which record the names of people who were required to pay this tax. Since there were no censuses during the early nineteenth century, the Tithe Applotment Books of 1831 to 1838 serve as a good census substitute.
As you might expect, the predominantly Catholic population did not appreciate a tax that was to be paid to the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church. In 1831 many people refused to pay this tithe, and so started the Tithe War, which was fiercest in the southeast. The names that appear on this CD are of those people who refused to pay their tithe as recorded by the Church of Ireland clergy. Those who refused to pay the tithes had much more personal information collected than did those who paid. The CD contains all personal details from the original files, as well as copious information about the parishes that the people resided in. The people most affected by the Tithe War are precisely those most affected by emigration and the famine in the next generation.
The 1831 Tithe Defaulters CD-ROM disk contains data extracted by Stephen McCormac from records at the National Archives of Ireland that were long thought to be lost. Some years ago, these records were discovered among miscellaneous papers at the Archives. Surviving records cover 232 parishes in Carlow, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. The CD-ROM includes:
• Details of nearly 30,000 individual defaulters
• Addresses, occupations and all other details about the defaulters appearing on the original record
• Complete records for 232 parishes
• Full text of every application to the Clergy Relief Fund
• Help files and detailed introduction
Installation was simple on my Windows XP system. The installation instructions state that it will also install properly on Windows 2000, ME, NT, and 98. Anyone using Windows 98 or Windows NT needs to read the information in the README file about obtaining the latest patches and upgrades from Microsoft, however. The installation procedure places a small amount of software on the user's hard drive; the data remains on the CD-ROM, which must be inserted into the computer in order to be used.
The 1831 Tithe Defaulters CD-ROM contains a comprehensive index to all the names recorded in the Applications to the 1831 Clergy Relief Fund. To begin a search, you fill in the relevant search box on the search page. The search fields include forename, surname, county, and parish. In addition, there is a separate free text search that will enable the user to search for information other than the above four fields.
As an example of the data contained, here is one listing that I found:
Barony: East Division of East Carberry
In addition, the full affidavit is included:
That he has at different times during the present year Processed for the Tythe of the Year 1831 and by that means got in part of what was due for that year, but that Latterly the Opposition to the payment in future is so fierce & determined that the Parishioners have allowed themselves to be Decreed and that your Memorialist has now decreed but that under the present Circumstances & state of the Country, he is afraid, nor indeed would there be any use in endeavouring to execute them as, if a sale is Published such a Mob is assembled on the Day of Sale as essentially to prevent any real or bona fide Bidders; that your Memorialist made an attempt on Saturday the 23rd of June last to sell an Horse under the Warrant of two Magistrates for Tythe subtracted in the Year 1831, but that at a Fair held in the Neighbourhood the Day previous to the Sale a man went through the Fair with a Placard on a Pole desiring the people to assemble the next day at this sale for Tithe, and in Consequence a large Mob assembled and the sale was prevented by strangers in the Crowd bidding Extravagant Sums, the horse not being worth above three or four Pounds and People unknown calling up forty, fifty & an hundred pounds and by this means making the Sale a farce & the horse was obliged to be discharged upon which, one of the Priests who attended gave the signal for a cheer and the tumult continued for some time to the great terror of His Majesty’s subjects; & Memorialist despairs of ever again making a Sale-& has been told by several that they would never again pay Tithe or Church rates.The results screen that displays this information also has links to information describing the parish. That page gives further details about the parish where a defaulter is listed. The parish details include alternate names for the civil parish, the full text of the affidavit, and details on the numbers of households and houses from the 1831 or 1841 census returns.
Finally, by clicking on the LIST tab, you can see the list of original tithe defaulters in the order they appear on the original documents. This is a useful tool for researchers since there is often a relationship between the people who are recorded in sequence.
All in all, this CD-ROM disk is an excellent source of genealogy information in Ireland in 1831. If you are researching Irish ancestry in that time period, you may find the people listed on this disk when you can find no other records of their existence.
The 1831 Tithe Defaulters CD-ROM disk sells for €38.90 or US$39.95 (plus postage & packing). For more information, or to safely order the disk via Eneclann's safe and secure shopping cart system, go to http://www.eneclann.ie/publications-9.asp.