They record the amount of Irish tithe, ie tax, due from each occupier of land, regardless of his religion, to support the clergy of the (Protestant) Church of Ireland.
Originally the tax of one tenth of production was paid by the farmer in produce. But in 1823, the Tithe Composition Act was introduced and allowed tithes to be paid in cash (actually, this had already become a fairly widespread practice).
The value of Tithe Applotment Books to Irish genealogists
The Tithe Applotment Books record the occupiers of tithe-eligible land, not householders. They are not population censuses.
Because the tithe was payable only by those who worked on agricultural land, you may not find your ancestors included.
What the books contain
Tithe Applotment Books are arranged by parish and contain the following information:
- Land occupier's name
- Area of landholding in acres
- Land assessment grade 1-4
- Calculation of tithe amount
Those labourers who worked on agricultural land owned by the Church were exempt. So, too, were those labourers who did not rent land, as were those who lived and worked in urban areas.
Even so, the books represent the earliest records for the poor of Ireland, a group for whom very few other genealogical records survive from this period.
In fact, if your ancestors lived in one of the rural parishes for which no pre-1850 church registers exist, Tithe Applotment books may also be the only records available.
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