Land: CORK, Cork Encumbered Estates - Introduction Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives Land Index Copyright Contributed by Anita Sheahan Coraluzzi CORK ENCUMBERED ESTATES Introduction by Anita Sheahan Coraluzzi @2002. All Rights Reserved. ________________________________________________________________________________ ENCUMBERED ESTATES ACTS - INTRODUCTION & NOTES - Anita Sheahan Coraluzzi - The Encumbered Estates Acts of 1848 and 1849 allowed for the sale of Irish estates which had been mortgaged and whose owners found themselves bankrupt. The owners could no longer meet the financial demands made by their creditors so the estates, or portions of the estates, were sold off to pay their obligations. The famine left many landlords with difficulties because so many of their tenants could not pay their rents, indeed, many lands were left barren of tenants at all by either death or emigration. With no income the landlords had little choice but to sell. However, the sale of land was inhibited by unwieldy legal procedures involving lengthy deed and title searches until the first Encumbered Estates legislation of 1848, then a more comprehensive Act being passed in 1849. These records are also known as the Landed Estates Court records, and between 1849 and 1857 this Court oversaw the sale of more than 3000 Irish estates. - The British Government hoped that "a new breed of entrepreneur would invest in and capitalize agricultural production" by facilitating the sale of these estates. And it was assumed that this "new breed" of investors would come from Britain.1 However, during discussions of the bill in the House of Commons Sir J. Graham stated "Every encouragement ought to be given to the subdivision of land...He was most anxious to re-unite to the soil of Ireland the Roman Catholic capital of that country, which he thought would be one of the greatest securities for its tranquility. He believed that the Irish Roman Catholics through their industry, together with their long exclusion from rights as to land, had accumulated capital, and that they were not unwilling to invest it in the land. Unfortunately the large estates held by Protestants were for the most part heavily incumbered, and incumbrances prevented the nominal holders from doing their duty as landlords." 2 - Mr. S. Crawford, supporting the bill, put forward: "The cause of Ireland's distress was want of employment and wages, which want was greatly aggravated by the embarrassed state of landlord and tenant...it was impossible to remedy the evils of charges upon land unless by improving the laws by which that land was held. He therefore hoped the House would pass this measure."3 - But it is the opinion of Mr. Sadler during this debate that most concerns us as genealogists, as what he protested to being unacceptable are the very documents we have to look through now. He "objected to the mode prescribed for giving notice of intended sales of incumbered estates in Ireland, for they were limited to advertisements in papers and gazettes little read, or to bills put upon the doors of churches, whereas in no instance had the judges of the land ever deemed such notices valid, unless they had been served upon the parties, or other equally efficacious steps had been taken to insure a knowledge of the contemplated sale of land on the part of the person interested..."4 - The Encumbered Estates documents themselves are in the form of advertisements. Property could be sold as one lot or many lots depending on the acreage and debt of the estate. The typical first page of the advertisement of a sale is shown in the following example: 'IN THE COURT OF THE COMMISSIONERS FOR SALE OF INCUMBERED ESTATES IN IRELAND In the Matter of the Estate of - Richard Ashe, of Ashgrove in the County of Cork, And Alicia his wife, and James Scott Molloy, Assignee of said Richard Ashe, Owners, Ex-Parte Thomas Barry and Ellen Barry, Petitioners - RENTAL Of THE LANDS OF CURRAGHUE, OTHERWISE CORRAGHEMORE, CARRIGAFOOKA WITH ITS SUBDENOMINATIONS OF EAST DROMONY, WEST DROMONY, INCHIBRICANE AND COOLDORIHY - Situate IN THE BARONIES OF FERMOY AND WEST MUSKERRY And COUNTY OF CORK - WHICH WILL BE SOLD BY AUCTION AS STATED IN THE ANNEXED RENTAL AND PARTICULARS BY THE COMMISSIONERS, AT THEIR COURT, NO. 14 HENRIETTA STREET, DUBLIN, ON TUESDAY THE 10TH DAY OF DECEMBER 1850, AT TWELVE O'CLOCK NOON - Pursuant to and absolute Order made in the above Matter bearing date the 13th day of February 1850' Usually following the advertisement page is a list of the lands to be auctioned with most lists accompanied by descriptions of the property, detailed maps and conditions of sale. Often you can find an illustration of the main house on the grounds. Many of these documents then contain lists of tenants on each parcel of land and note how much land the tenant rents, the yearly rent due on that land and whether the tenant holds a lease or are tenants at will. The majority of these tenants were cottiers with no claim at all and no legal recourse to being evicted if the rent couldn't be paid. Their leases were simply stated as 'Tenant from year to year; year ending 25th March' (or whatever date the rent came due). - Occasionally there are gems to be found among these records. The following lease information is taken from the sale of the above-mentioned estate of Richard ASHE. It concerns the lands of West Dromony, being auctioned as Lot No. 4. Column headings are in brackets: '[No.] 1 [Denominations] West Dromony [Tenant's Name] Timothy TWOMEY, [Quantity of Land, English Statute Measure] About 94 A 0 R 0 P [Yearly Rent] Â£105 2s. 0d, [Gale days] 1st May and 1st Nov., [Tenure by which Tenants hold] 'Lease dated 14th March 1839, for the lives of Patrick TWOMEY, now aged 16 years, and Timothy TWOMEY (dead), sons of lessee, and Matthew TWOMEY eldest son of Jeremiah TWOMEY*, brother of lessee, now aged 18 years, concurrent with the term of 61 1/2 years from 1st November 1838. This lease reserves all mines, minerals and royalties...also to hunt, fowl, fish, course and sport in...this lease also contains a covenant by the tenant that he will not let, underlet or assign any part of said demised premises, and that he would lay out annually on said demised premises 100 barrels of well-burnt running kiln lime.'5 (*Jeremiah TWOMEY also rented other property on this estate, but he is noted elsewhere as being the 'late' Jeremiah Twomey) This lease could give valuable information to the Twomey family historian that may not be able to be found elsewhere: familial relationships, ages, deaths and possible occupations can be extracted. I have more than once seen reference to a tenant, listed as one of the three lives of a lease, been recorded as 'gone to America.' - It is acknowledged that many family genealogists will find little use for these Encumbered Estates records. Many of these recorded sales of property are so close in time to Griffith's Valuation that they may reveal nothing more about an ancestor than what information can already be ascertained from the valuation records. However if all other record sources have been examined for the Irish ancestor, these documents hold the possibility of at least placing the family, and possible relations, in an area one, two, three or more years after Griffith's Valuation, along with the possibility of revealing information in some of the leases. - If the landholder that your Irish ancestor rented from has been discovered in Griffith's Valuation records, the Encumbered Estates documents can be searched to see if the landlord sold any of his property. If so, it is another bit of information that can be added to that family's history. - The records of the Encumbered Estates Court are held in PRONI in bound volumes and are available for the whole of Ireland. They are reference D-1201. An index is also available at PRONI--reference MIC.80/2. This index "was compiled and collated, in manuscript form, by Charles Charlesworth, possibly of Dublin Royal Society, and bequested to the National Library of Ireland by Joseph Burke, Co. Tipperary and Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin. According to a note on the flyleaf, 'the notes were written in pencil' and 'were written over in ink, in August 1951, as they were fading out and becoming illegible.'6 - The records of the Encumbered Estates and Landed Estates Courts are also available at the National Archives and National Library in Dublin. They have also been microfilmed by the LDS. The Cork Encumbered Estate Court records are on LDS film numbers: Vol. 3 & 4; film 0258795 Vol. 5 & 6; film 0258796 Vol. 7 & 8; film 0258797 Vol. 9; film 0258798 (also contains sales of estates from Clare, Dublin, Kerry, Kilkenny And Limerick) Vol. 10 & 11; film 0258799 (Vol. 11 contains only a few Cork estates, most of the estates In this volume are from Sligo) Vol. 12 & 13; film 0258800 Vol. 64; film 0258839 (This volume contains only six Cork estates) Although for the most part it seems the records are bound together and microfilmed by area, there is no other apparent rhyme or reason to their order. Generally you will find North Cork estates in Volume 6, Cork City Estates in Volumes 3 & 4, etc. The following lists of Landholders whose estates were being auctioned are transcribed exactly in order as they appear on the LDS microfilms. Once the ancestors' landholder has been determined from the Valuation records, it is that landlord you will search for in the volume indexes, leading you to the corresponding microfilmed estate records.