Griffith’s Valuations

Accurate records of Irish families are hard to come by. Most of the first four Irish Census records (1861-1891) were destroyed by fire and later ones were destroyed by the government so there are very few remnants of 19th century censuses in existence.

The loss of so many national census records is devastating, but it’s not completely the end of the world. There are some other records which can offer some excellent information.

Between 1823 and 1837, taxes called 'tithes' were payable to the Church of Ireland, the 'established' church of the time. Titles were payable on certain types of land and valuations published in the 'Title Applotments List'. Records show that on 8th October 1832, in the townland of Garran, Henry, James and Robert Gillespie had taxable land and they paid tithes of 3 shillings and 9 pence, two shillings and one and a half pence and twelve shillings and five pence respectively. In those days there were twenty shillings to a pound and twelve pence to a shilling. By today's standards, these are paltry sums but would have been substantial amounts in those days.

Griffith’s Valuations, although not a census as such, gives a fairly accurate listing of land owners and renters.

Pages from Griffith’s Valuation 1848-1864 show a proliferation of Gillespie lands around Stonebridge. Not only do they list the names of the tenants and what they paid in rent, the various plots of land can be identified and cross-referenced on ordinance survey maps of the period.

legnakelly shanmullagh south garran
These pages from Griffith's Valuations show the Gillespie lands C.1860.
Click to enlarge in a new window
annotated map
This 1860 map shows the plots referred to
in the Griffith's Valuations. Note there are two Henrys and two Roberts.
Click to enlarge in a new window
homes map
This map is from about 1840 and shows all the homes and outhouses
of the various Gillespie families in great detail.
Click to enlarge in a new window

The marriage certificate of William Gillespie and Margaret Stewart, my great grandparents, shows that William's father is Henry Gillepsie, Farmer. There are two Henry Gillespies in the area originally from nearby Garran. One is married to Mary Armstrong (from Edenaforan) and the other to Catherine Bartley. Baptismal records show that it is Henry and Mary, who lived at Shanmullagh, that were the parents of William born in 1844. The witnesses on the marriage certificate are William Amstrong and Mary Jane Armstrong, presumably relations of mother, Mary Armstrong.

Going further back, the parents of Henry Gillespie would seem to be John Gillespie and Jane Horner or John Gillespie and Mary Donaldson. This is before Clogh Church records began but the birth is recorded in the LDS International Genealogical Index on 23rd January 1812 in Clones parish. Henry's oldest son is called John and he had a daughter called Mary Jane. As Mary Jane's mother was Mary, I'm assuming that the 'Jane' part came from the grandmother.

There are other Gillespie families in townlands nearby. James Gillespie is at Drumully, just off the right hand side of the map. Others are slightly further afield.

Apart from the common surname, the relationships between these Gillespies are not apparent from Griffith's Valuations. We have to look elsewhere.