The Registry of Deeds

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The Registry of Deeds was set up by the Irish Parliament in 1708. Its aim was to help in regularising the massive transfer of land ownership from the Catholic, Anglo-Norman and Gaelic populations to the Protestant Anglo-Irish which had taken place over the preceding century. The function of the registry was to provide evidence of legal title in the event of a dispute. The Registry of Deeds also copper fastened the Cromwellian confiscations during the 1640s and 1650s as well as the Williamite confiscations of the 1690s. Thus the overall majority of deeds deal with members of the Church of Ireland, and a large number of these relate to transactions which carried some risk of legal dispute. In other words, the deeds registered are generally of interest only for a minority of the population, and constitute only a fraction of the total number of property transactions carried out in the country.

Registration worked in the following way. After a deed had been signed and witnessed, one of the parties to it had a copy known as a 'memorial' made, signed it and had it witnessed by two people, at least one of whom had been a witness to the original. The memorial was then sworn before a Justice of the Peace as a faithful copy of the original and sent to the registry. Here it was transcribed into a large manuscript volume and indexed. The original memorial was retained and stored, and these are all preserved in the vaults of the registry. For research purposes, the large volumes containing the transcripts of the memorials are used. Registration of a deed normally took place soon after its execution, within a month or two in most cases, though delays of up to two years are quite common. If a gap between the execution and the registration of a deed is much more, this may be significant; it indicates an impending need for one of the parties to the deed or their heirs to be able to show legal proof of its execution. The most common reason for such a need would have been the death of one of the parties.

The archaic and legalistic terminology used in deeds can oget make it extremely difficult to work out what precisely the parties intended it to do. This is particularly true in cases where earlier agreements are referred to but not recited in full. However, from a genealogical point of view, the precise nature of the transaction recorded is not always vital, and with a little parctice it becomes relatively easy to pare the document down to the essentials of dates, placenames and personal names.


Major Sources of Irish Ancestry

Church Records Land Records Directories
Registry of Deeds Wills Emigration Records
Newspapers

Genealogy Sources for each Irish County

Antrim Armagh Carlow Cavan
Clare Cork Derry (Londonderry) Donegal
Down Dublin Fermanagh Galway
Kerry Kildare Kilkenny Laois
Leitrim Limerick Longford Louth
Mayo Meath Monaghan Offaly
Roscommon Sligo Tipperary Tyrone
Waterford Westmeath Wexford Wicklow

MY IRISH ANCESTORS FREE GENEALOGY ASSESSMENT

If you need advice from one of our genealogy research team send a message and we will be happy to help. click HERE for more information

OUR PRELIMINARY RESEARCH IS NOW REDUCED

My Irish Ancestors have reduced our Preliminary Research by 65%

Was £130 Now £49.99 CLICK HERE for more information