Abercorn estate records

Until the late nineteenth century, the townlands in the Bready area, with the exception of Grange Foyle, formed part of the Abercorn estate. A vast collection of records relating to the management of this estate is available in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland under reference D/623. Some of the more useful items have been digitised and indexes prepared of the names.

Muster roll, 1745

Fears that the Jacobite disturbances in Scotland would spread to the north of Ireland prompted the 8th Earl of Abercorn to instruct his Irish agents to compile lists of firearms in the manors for which they had responsibility. John McClintock drew up the list for the manor of Dunnalong, noting tenants by townland and the type and condition of each weapon possessed. It was his opinion that ‘the tenants have very few firearms in proportion to their numbers; in some large farms not one fit for service and what they have are generally old and not much to be depended on’. John Colhoun, who compiled the list for the parish of Leckpatrick (taking in the manor of Cloghogal) echoed McClintock’s views and commented to Abercorn that: ‘The owners for the most part have better spirits than firearms’. He merely made out a list of the tenants noting the condition of their firearms. The value of this muster roll lies in the fact that it covers an area for which the other traditionally used eighteenth century census substitutes, such as the census of Protestant householders of 1740 and the religious census of 1766, are not available. It also pre-dates by nearly fifty years the earliest complete Abercorn estate rentals.

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Maps of the estate, 1777

This was the first large scale mapping of the Abercorn estate which included the names of tenants by townland. Names of tenants have been extracted from the manors of Cloghogal and Dunnalong.

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Rent books of the estate, 1794-1809

These are the earliest surviving set of detailed rent books for the Abercorn estate. Names have been extracted from the manors of Cloghogal and Dunnalong.

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Leases issued in 1835

When his grandfather died in 1819, the 2nd Marquess of Abercorn was only eight years old.  His own father had died in 1814.  The young Marquess did not reach majority until the early 1830s and in the interim period the estate was managed by trustees, such as the earl of Aberdeen. On 31 January 1835 a new run of original leases was issued for farms in the Abercorn estate, all of which were for one life or twenty-one years. Forty-three leases were issued in the original run for the manor of Cloghogal, while fifty-one leases were issued for the manor of Dunnalong. The largest farm in either manor was leased by Robert Rolleston in Gortavea and covered just under 107 acres. The deeds of 1835 proved to be the last major run of leases issued on the Abercorn estate.  The life on the leases was that of John James Hamilton Humphreys who died on 5 May 1890. 

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