With the addition of the 1821 List of Freeholders, Clare County Library has added c.35,000 names of Clare people from the early 19th Century to its website. This List of Freeholders contains the names of landholders who were registered to vote in County Clare in 1821. A freeholder was a man who owned his land outright (in fee) or who held it by lease which could be for one or more lives (for example, his own life or for the lives of other people named in the lease). A significant percentage of the population was entitled to vote in the time period covered by this list (1796-1820), when both Catholic and Protestant 40 shilling freeholders qualified for the franchise. A 40 shilling freeholder held a freehold worth at least 40 shillings per anum above the rent, enabling the inclusion of substantial farmers in the voters’ list. In 1829 the franchise level was increased to 10 pounds (there were 20 shillings in a pound), thus barring the 40 shilling freeholders whom Daniel O’Connell had mobilized and consequently confining the vote to landlords. Because of destroyed records and the lack of census material covering the 19th Century, Freeholders’ Lists are an invaluable census substitute. This 1821 List provides a range of information about people and land ownership: Name of freeholder; Address of freeholder (Place of Abode); Location of freehold (Situation of Freehold); Name of landlord; Value of freehold (given in either shillings (s) or pounds (l)); Names of other lives associated with the lease i.e. generally tenants (Names of Lives or other Tenure); Date of freeholder’s registration. The names of the freeholders are given as they appear in the original document i.e. by Barony, and arranged by the first letter of the surname, the names being entered chronologically as each freeholder was registered. Each Barony is also arranged alphabetically by the location of the freehold, i.e. by townland. In addition, separate alphabetical lists of all Freeholders, Tenants and Landlords - c. 35,000 individuals in all -are provided.
Clare County Library was kindly given a copy of the List of Freeholders by the Bishop of Killaloe, Rev. Kieran O'Reilly. This rare publication was unearthed by Ennisman Louis Quinn while doing research in the bishop’s residence at Westbourne House, Ennis. The List was transcribed and proofread by volunteers Joan Birtles (Australia), Dwaine O’Donoghue (Canada), Peter Beirne & Brian Doyle (Ennis), Elaine Pratt (UK), and Mary Cecilia Murphy, Ruth Ver and Kevin O'Brien of the Buffallo Irish Genealogy Society, USA. The project was managed by Executive Librarian Maureen Comber, and the data converted for the website by Jackie Dermody, Staff Officer (Library) of the library's ICT & Information Services Department. Clare County Library is grateful to all for helping to make this resource available.
Click here for the 1821 List of Freeholders.