Registry of Deeds
As has been previously discussed, the Registry of Deeds was in use from the time of its creation by the Irish Parliament in 1708 until it was supplanted by Griffith's and the Tithe Applotment Books in the mid-19th century. Even in its heyday, however, registration of deeds was not mandatory, and its use was largely restricted to cases in which it was likely that legal title carried the risk of some future dispute. Therefore, the Registry contains only a small fraction of the total property transactions of its day. A single document in the Registry can provide two or three generations' worth of names, and leave a trail to related records which can give a great deal of the financial details of the family.
Types of Transactions in the Registry
The following are among the common kinds of transactions recorded in the Registry:
- Leases. Leases were the most numerous of Registry records, and the terms of a lease could be dependent upon the lives of several persons named in the document, a period of years, or a combination of both. It is not uncommon for the names and ages of grantee's children to be listed.
- Mortgages. Mortgages were a common investment vehicle during this time period, and could be transferred to third or fourth parties, each hoping to profit on the transaction. Such deeds could become very complicated.
- Marriage Settlements. Marriage settlements constituted prenuptial property agreements between the bride's and groom's families, designed to provide financial security for women. The information listed can include the names, addresses and occupations of the bride, groom and bride's father, plus the same for other associated relatives.
- Wills. Wills would typically only be registered when a family member was omitted as a beneficiary, making it likely that the will would be contested in court.
- Rent Charges. Rent consisted of an annual fixed payment from the renter of the land, and could be used for installment payments of debts or mortgages, or be transferred to others. These documents can be valuable in charting the evolution of family relationships and a family's fortunes over time.
When deeds were sent to the Registry, the document was transcribed into an oversized book and indexed. A copy of the deed was retained and stored. There are two indexes that you can use in your genealogical research:
- Grantors' Index. The names of grantors (the party disposing of an asset) are listed in this index alphabetically by last name, and the volume, page and deed number are also given.
- Lands Index. Depending on the year of the deed, this index is divided by county or barony, then alphabetically by townland name.
The Lands Index and the Grantors' Index are contained on more than 400 reels of microfilm. The microfilm indexes are available in the National Library and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Family History Centers of the LDS Church also have copies available for public use.