Dig up your ancestors

Everything begins with townlands, the core geogpraphical unit for tracing everything historical because they predate English rule but were continued through the ‘shiring’, the establishment of the counties, and the Plantation of Ulster. If you know what townland your people were in a hundred years ago you can start with the 1911 census. But as you move backwards watch out for changing spellings – Adavoyle, for example, is a particular nightmare. You also need to know that we are in the Barony of Orior (sometimes spelt Orier) and the civil parish or DED (District Electoral Division) of Jonesborough.


Census 1901 and 1911


Click on this link: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/ and click through as follows:

1911 – Armagh – Jonesborough DED… and pick your townland

The house numbers used by the census enumerators are meaningless and just reflect the order in which they visited houses – the numbers in 1901 are totally different. So if, for example, there are people of the same name all over the place in a townland you have to figure out a couple of families you can identify and then mentally go up and down the different roads. Or else check out everyone of the name until you recognise some forenames which are generally handed down.


Repeat the process for 1901. Look at the original forms as well as the summaries where you can check whether your people were still Irish speakers. There are supplementary forms where, using the house numbers, you can check whether the house was thatched or slated, number of outbuildings and so on. Note also the number of ‘servants’ of very young age. We couldn’t find my granny in Adavoyle but we tracked her to Carrickbroad where she was ‘hired’ at 10 years of age.


Griffiths Valuation 1864

This is an extremely interesting resource which used to be difficult to access but is now available free online. Over a 20-year period every landholding in Ireland was measured and valued with lists showing landlord, tenant, acreage, valuation and so on. Most of this area was done in 1864.


Click on: http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml?action=placeSearch


Choose Placename Search and enter the name of your townland (you may have to try different spellings – Adavoyle = Aghadavoyle and I remember problems with Edenappa), then select Armagh from the county list – ignore the Barony box. When the new page comes up click on Occupants and then choose Original Form which is a facsimile of the original book page. Find your family and note the holding number in the left column.


Close the list, click back to the Townland page and click on Map View using the larger icon with a cross in it on the right. The numbers in the map plots correspond to the numbers on the list pages.


Tithe applotments 1834

Tithes were taxes which everyone had to pay to the Church of Ireland rector – and yes, that was everyone of every religion until they were abolished abolition of tithes in 1839. There is a list of those paying in 1834 in Edenappa and what must be both Faughilotra and Faughiletra judging by both family names and the sheer number at:


Each name represents a farm or household. This was shortly before the Famine – just look at the sheer numbers on the land.


Tithes were related to farm size and output and were naturally hated by Catholics although I doubt if Protestants were wild about them either. They were collected by a ‘proctor’, a sort of contractor on a percentage. At about this time the Rector of Jonesborough’s proctor was murdered in Faughiletra. A dozen or so men covered in white bedsheets battered him with spades – everyone had to give a wallop so everyone was equally guilty and equally interested in keeping his mouth shut.


Hearth tax rolls 1666

In the 1660s a tax was introduced on every fireplace with or without chimney. In 1666 rolls of heads of household were made out for every townland. The list for Orior Barony doesn’t look complete but some of the local townlands are on it. There seems to have been only one household in all of Adavoyle



Pender Survey 1659

In 1659 a survey was made of residents (as opposed to households) per townland. The information available is partial but it shows that there were 10 people in Dromintee townland, 13 in Faughilotra, 16 in Carrickasticken, 18 in Carrickbroad and precisely 2 in Cloghinny.