If you have Irish ancestry, you will be interested in a CD-ROM disk available from Eneclann, called The 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders. This disk provides information about more than 8,000 people in Ireland at the time, both those who took up arms and those whose property was damaged or stolen. These groups come from every social background, from poor labourers and artisans to aristocratic families.
The Irish Rebellion of 1798 (Éirí Amach 1798 in Irish), or the "1798 Rebellion" as it is known in Ireland, was an aborted revolution against the British dominated Kingdom of Ireland. Even though it only lasted a few months, this was a major event in Irish history. The United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary group inspired by the ideas of the American and French Revolutions, was the main organizing force behind the rebellion.
At that time, Protestants loyal to the British Crown controlled Ireland. Their Penal Laws repressed the majority Catholic population. A small group of Protestant liberals in Belfast founded the Society of the United Irishmen in 1791. The organization crossed religious boundaries with Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and other Protestant "dissenter" members. The Society called for democratic reform and Catholic emancipation, reforms that the Irish Parliament had no intention of granting and the British government was just as unwilling to enforce. With aid from the new French republic, the Society of the United Irishmen went underground and promoted armed insurrection to "break the connection with England." Other resistance groups, known as the Defenders, joined in the insurrection, and the armed force reached an estimated 100,000 members by 1797.
The British and Irish loyalists responded by launching a campaign of repression and coercion by using tactics that today would be described as "state terrorism." The homes of Irish rebels were burned. Individuals were tortured with "pitchcapping" being widely practiced.
NOTE: "Pitchcapping" is the practice of filling a paper cone with hot tar and placing on a victim's head, similar to a dunce cap. Once the burning hot tar cooled a bit, the "pitchcap" was then torn off, taking lumps of skin and flesh with it, which usually left the victim disfigured for life.
Armed battles soon broke out across Ireland, but the British won most of them. The British were especially cruel in their treatment of prisoners. Captured rebels were not treated as prisoners of war, but were executed as traitors to the Crown, usually by hanging. After the battles of New Ross and Enniscorthy, the British burned their prisoners alive. Rebel forces responded by conducting their own atrocities at several later battles.
The French government responded by sending 1,000 French soldiers, who landed in the northwest of the country, at Kilcummin in County Mayo. They were joined by up to 5,000 local rebels and inflicted a humiliating defeat on the British at Castlebar. The rebels set up a short-lived "Republic of Connaught" before final defeat at the Battle of Ballinamuck in County Longford on 8 September 1798. Another 3,000 French soldiers attempted to land in County Donegal, but they were intercepted by a larger Royal Navy squadron, and finally surrendered after a three-hour battle without ever landing in Ireland. The 1798 Rebellion soon collapsed. An estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people died over the course of just three months.
The 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders CD from Eneclann brings together some of the few remaining primary sources about the people involved in this conflict. It contains two lists of individuals who made claims for compensation for loss of property during the rising, as well as two lists of rebels who surrendered in Dublin City and Coolock Barony.
The information on this disk was edited by Ian Cantwell, one of the best known and most respected Irish historians and genealogists.
There are more than 8,000 names included in this publication covering two different groups - those who took up arms and those whose property was damaged. These groups come from every social background, from poor Dublin city labourers and artisans to the aristocratic ascendancy of late eighteenth century Ireland.
This CD includes details about:
- 1,218 people who surrendered in Coolock barony.
- 1,057 people who surrendered in Dublin City.
- 6,165 people who made a claim for losses.
These claimants came from the following counties:
- Antrim 143
- Carlow 288
- Cavan 1
- Clare 7
- Cork 21
- Down 136
- Dublin 173
- England 11
- Galway 63
- Kerry 3
- Kildare 363
- Kilkenny 251
- Kings (Offaly) 29
- Leitrim 70
- Limerick 2
- Londonderry 3
- Longford 79
- Mayo 686
- Meath 145
- Monaghan 1
- Queens (Laois) 42
- Roscommon 15
- Sligo 215
- Tipperary 20
- Tyrone 1
- Waterford 5
- Westmeath 45
- Wexford 2,208
- Wicklow 1,033
The 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders CD works only on Windows 98 or later systems. There is no Macintosh version.
I found the installation to be simple: insert the CD into your computer, double-click on SETUP.EXE, and follow the on-screen instructions. About a minute later, everything was operational. Only the software was copied to the hard drive; the data remains on the CD-ROM disk. To run the program and view the data, the CD must be in the computer's CD-ROM drive.
I found the 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders CD to be very easy to use. To search for people, simply click on SEARCH. You can search by forename (first name), surname, county, source documents, or any combination thereof. In addition, there is a free text search that allows you to search across all the data on the CD.
Many of the original records of the 1798 Rebellion have been lost. However, three lists of particular interest have been preserved by the Irish government and are republished on this CD. As described in the CD-ROM's Introduction:
These consist of two lists of people who surrendered arms in the City of Dublin and Coolock Barony, County Dublin, of over 1,000 names each, and the better-known Lists of Claimants with over 6,100 names. These 8,000 people are mostly undocumented elsewhere and are a broad sample of participants and victims and provide a valuable glimpse into Irish society at the time. One of the aims of this work is to make this primary source material available to researchers in a user-friendly format. For the academic it will give a macro picture of social structure, agriculture, craft and economy on the island. It will provide useful information for the local historian reconstructing local affairs during the period. Family historians and genealogists have the possibility of tracking down an ancestor's involvement with the Rebellion. Last, but not least, the data may be found useful by political historians.
The parliamentary legislation enacted for the establishment of the Commissioners for the compensation of 'suffering loyalists' is the statutes 38 George III chapter LXVIII and 39 George III chapter LXV. The former has fourteen sections covering the appointment of the commissioners (The Archbishop of Cashel, Arthur Baron Kilwarden, The Bishops of Killaloe and Kilmore, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr, Justice Downes, Justice Chamberlain, Right Hon David Latouche, Right Hon R Annesley, Right Hon. S Hamilton), their oath of appointment, the employment of clerks, the use of magistrates, juries and sheriffs in the assessment of a claim's accuracy, and finally the power to fine and imprison those who did not attend a summons to give evidence as well as the prosecution of perjurers. The second Act was enacted 'for more effectually carrying into execution to purposes' of the previous act and expands the various sections and includes a secret fund of £3,000 for the rewarding of those who 'have rendered essential service, by making discoveries of the traitors concerned in contriving and fomenting and acting in the said rebellion'.
In relation to the Commission compensation it must be noted that their brief was limited to individuals who suffered losses of property caused by rebel activity between 1st May 1798 and 6th April 1799. The only way that a death in the family by violence could be compensated was through the payment of a fine when a life in a lease of three lives was renewed but not for any other financial issues relating to the death such as loss of income. Institutions such as Church bodies applied through a different procedure (including Tithes), however since they were regularly refused there must have been some confusion in the minds of Church of Ireland clerics about how to claim. Roman Catholic clerics are not found, except privately. The situation with companies is less clear. The claimed refusal of Orr's claim of £2,250 for the cotton factory in Stratford on Slaney, Co. Wicklow, may be misinformation as there is evidence that they invested in Ulster in the early 1800s. Finally either the Government or the Army force responsible dealt with compensation for damage caused by Government forces and/or their lodging and usually took some years to collect, i.e. Thomas Hugo's claim for the stationing of troops at his residence, Glendalough House, Co. Wicklow, which was still ongoing in 1803, according to the Kilmainham Papers; he may never have been paid.
The social consequences of the Rebellion and its aftermath were heavy and, even thirty years later the scars could still be found among the surviving victims. Compensation for those who knew how to work the system may have gone some way in financially assisting the rebuilding of shattered lives but for many only death ended their suffering. The mythologizing and political manipulation of the events does little to acknowledge victims but is typical as any comparison with similar rebellions anywhere else in the world would show.
Here is one record from the CD to illustrate the sort of information to be found:
Place where loss sustained: Residence
Nature of loss: Horse
Sum claimed: 13/7/6 (13 pounds, 7 shillings, 6 pence)
Sum allowed: 10 (pounds)
Published County: Queens
In short, Anthony Kennedy submitted a claim for 13/7/6 for the loss of his horse. He was granted 10 pounds. There are roughly 8,000 more records available on this disk.
The 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders CD-ROM disk sells for €29.90 or US$29.95 (plus postage & packing). It is available directly from the publisher's web site at http://www.eneclann.ie/publications-15.asp. Use of a credit card on this safe and secure shopping cart system eliminates the difficulties and high fees of converting your money into Euros.
All in all, the 1798 Rebellion: Claimants and Surrenders CD is a great resource for anyone researching Irish ancestry. It is a transcription of original records not previously available. If you are researching Irish ancestry in the late eighteenth century, you will want this disk!