In this week’s expert guest post Fiona addresses two of the most popular questions asked by those starting out on their Irish family history research: “What is the Registry of Deeds? and Who is recorded in the documents held there?”
In 1707 the Registry of Deeds in Henrietta Street, Dublin was founded by act of the Irish Parliament to secure the transfer of land after the final conquest of Ireland by King William II (a.k.a. William of Orange or ‘Good King Billy’). Its main function was to provide security of tenure for new owners of land in Ireland.
Registration or ‘Memorializing’ of deeds was done on an entirely voluntary basis. Memorializing involved the clerk making a complete or near complete transcript of the original sworn document. Once a document was accepted and memorialized it guaranteed full Parliamentary title to land. As this was the most secure form of ownership available, and as registered deeds of title to land had priority over unregistered deeds of title, this new system quickly became popular amongst ‘old’ owners of land.
The records in the Registry of Deeds can be searched alphabetically using the Grantors Index, or geographically using the Townlands Index.
There is also a further geographical division for the principal cities, where records can be searched by a street index organised alphabetically.
From the 1820s, its possible to search the borough towns by name, thence by street.
One of the very many myths in Irish genealogy is that the deeds held in the Registry of Deeds only record the Protestant Ascendancy. The records of the Registry of Deeds record the Irish middle class of every denomination present in Ireland, as well as the gentry and aristocracy.
Here you will find:
All of whom at one time or another had reason to draw up contracts regarding:
The people recorded here are:
If you move beyond the grantors recorded in the documents, and look at the witnesses to these deeds, you will find another class of people not usually visible in the records- small shop-keepers, school-teachers and law-clerks, who although literate, did not possess property or assets and would therefore not usually appear in the historic records.
Where you find a relevant document in the Registry of Deeds, you will usually find a great deal of evidence that you won’t find in any other surviving record-set. This information will include:
Records in the Registry of Deeds also start from 1708 onwards, so they provide much earlier and more detailed coverage, and as such these records provide a real door into the past.
When you’re finished there search the records on findmypast.ie
Why doesnt Find My Past IE do a deal with the PRAI and make the Registry of Deeds available to be searched on its site. It would earn revenue for the site and the PRAI plus make the records more easily available to the large audience for Irish genealogy outside Ireland.
[...] Findmypast.ie blog had a post about the Registry of Deeds in Ireland. Fiona tells us what the Registry of Deeds is and who you may find recorded in the [...]
Am I correct in thinking that birth,marriage and death certs for Dublin/Tipperary/Kilkenny catholics are now at this site and not at the Dublin registry office? i thought that 60% of documents were destryed so pointless trying to trace my family history as Farrell and McMahon are both very common names. My parents were from Dublin in 1822,1855 respectively and I have been unable so far to trace documents on Find my past or ancestry.
Just to let people know there is an index to the Registry of Deeds in progress, being made by volunteers. So far there are just over 90,000 surnames in the index. Just Google Registry of Deeds Index to find it.
.william of Orange is William the Third not the Second. (William the Conqueror, William Rufus his son, and then William of Orange.)
Who are these Anglican Catholics - do you mean Anglo-Catholics, i.e. High Church Anglicans. Are there no Protestants, i.e. Low Church Anglicans in Ireland?
I noticed mention of the “registration of wills”. I thought all the wills were destroyed in the 1921 fire. Are wills available here?
Also, my g-g-g-grandparents James and Mary Butler owned the Great Globe Hotel in Clonmel in the early 1800s that became the current Clonmel City Hall. Would the transfer of the property in the 1880s be available at the registry? Thank you.
Do you need an appointment to see the Registery of Deeds?
No, the RC registers for Dublin, Tipperary and Kilkenny are not available either on the Findmypast.ie website or in the Registry of Deeds.
Its a fallacy that all the historic Irish records were destroyed in 1922 when the Public Records Office burned down. Those wills that survived, either in original format, or in partial or complete transcripts, are now available in the National Archives. There are also some wills registered in the Registry of Deeds.
Also, the only significant record-set, where approximately 60% of records were destroyed, were the historic registers of the Church of Ireland, which had been deposited in the P.R.O. after 1875.
Its possible to trace almost all Irish families back to the 1830s/40s, despite the many gaps in the records, so don’t let anyone tell you all the records were destroyed. F
Can you tell me if the Registry of Deeds would include those of Cork
Yes the Registry of Deeds includes records for all 32 counties in IReland, from 1708 onwards.
You don’t need to make an appointment to visit, and there is no fee to search the index which is arranged alphabetically and by time-period in large leather bound volumes. Researchers call these index volumes ‘tombstones’, probably because if one of these fell on top of you, that’s where you’d end up.