Landed Estates Court Rentals 1850-1885  on are records that I have found very useful.  If your ancestor leased or rented land from any of the Landlords who had financial problems in the late 1860s – after the Famine, this land may have gone into the ‘Encumbered Estates’ and in the sales pitch to sell off the land, your ancestor’s name, address, the amount of rent he was paying and the length of his lease could have been listed.

I am just giving an example of one of these estates in Kerry Landed Esate Rentals: ‘the lands of Clahane in the Barony of Clanmaurice’, the owner was Francis Crosbie and the Sale was in 1859.  The names of a number of tenants are listed and the details of their leases:

‘Lease dated the 13th day of August 1842 from James Crosbie esq., to Patrick Ross and John Ross for the term of 36 years  from the 25th day of March 1847, or for the life of John William Ross, then of Knopogue, whichever should last the longest, of two undivided parts  of numbers 1 & 2.  The life in said lease is in being. This lease contains a clause of surrender on any 25th day of March, in giving 6 months notice in writing’

Other names mentioned in the above online advert of the sale are: James Harty and Denis Harty, Edmond Connor and John Connor, Nicholas Enright.  Other clues to ages of the tenants are often to be found as well as entitlements under the individual leases – ‘Liberty to Landlord to hunt hawk and fowl.  Liberty to tenant to cut a sufficient quantity of turf from the upper bog of Clahane and also liberty to cut 100 reals of turf on such part of the lower bog of Gortnaskehy , as should be pointed out for that purpose’.

There are 494,616 records covering estates in almost every county of Ireland. tell us  that ‘many of the landed estates in Ireland were in serious financial difficulties by the time of the Famine in the mid 19th Century. So-called “encumbered estates” had financial and legal obligations that had to be paid out each year by the land owner. These were generally mortgages or “portions” portions owing to family members through marriage settlements or wills of previous generations. These payments all had to be made before the owner or occupier could take their own income from the estate.

Rental and sale prices of land plummeted during the Famine and for many landowners or occupiers the financial demands of the estate outstripped the income forcing them into bankruptcy. Many did not even have the option to sell the land due to these encumbered obligations.

In 1848 and 1849 two Encumbered Estates Acts were passed to make the sale of these estates possible. Under the second act an Encumbered Estates Court was established, which enabled the state to take ownership of these properties and sell them on with a parliamentary title, free from the threat of contested ownership.

The Encumbered Estates Court was established in 1849. In 1852, it was replaced by the Landed Estates Courts, which was itself superseded in 1877 by the Land Judges Court, part of the Chancery Division of the High Court. Although there were some differences in the powers of these courts, their principal function remained the same, to sell off insolvent estates.

From a genealogical perspective the Rentals are a valuable resource as many of the original estate records were no longer needed once the purchase had been made from the Land Courts and so no longer survive. The Land Courts system was the first significant step towards the break-up of the old estates in Ireland.

The Rentals are essentially sale catalogues, which were circulated to prospective purchasers in advance of the sale. They were compiled, like any modern estate agent’s brochure, to attract a sale and to give information about the lot in a clear uniform manner. The Land Courts sold estates in every county in Ireland so the Rentals as a whole cover large parts of the country. They cover urban as well as rural property.

Where the tenant held a long term lease, rather than a yearly tenancy, the record will also include the names of all lives contracted for (usually three) as well specifying whether any of those named were still alive at the time of the sale. This means that the information you can find can go back as far as the 18th century.

Some of the tenancy agreements listed have special terms that are worth noting. For example a lease of a nominal £2 a year might be granted forever on the condition that the leaseholder started and maintained a school. Other nominal rents were granted for religious leases.’