Kerry landlords for over 700 years, up to the land Acts of the late 1890s, ruled the lives of our Kerry ancestors. From the Fitgerald/Fitzmaurice Normans arrival, through the Plantation of Munster and the Cromwellian re-conquest, landlords, their middlemen and agents, were the major influence on day to day life for the vast majority of Kerry people.
From Trinity College in the north of the county of 54,479 acres to the Petty-Fitzmaurice/ Lansdowne Estate in the south with 94,000 acres and the numerous other large and small resident and non-resident owners, Kerry tenants’ wellbeing depended on their landlord’s attitudes, actions or inactions for that period of time. The economic, physical well-being, cultural and educational standards of the tenants depended on their masters. Some of these wealthy and powerful landlords were good, some bad and some plain indifferent.
The names of these Kerry landlords, of their agents and middlemen are written large in the history of the county. While they could be classed as relics of a long-gone era, their names crop up again and again, when a Kerry family tracing ancestors will be researching and asking reasons ‘Why’? Why did my ancestor leave? Why was my ancestor evicted? Why didn’t my ancestor own his/her own land? Why couldn’t my ancestor read or write? The answers to all these questions come back to the ‘land’. Land is wealth, wealth is power. We will endeavour to give a background to most of the more prominent Landlords, their Agents and Middlemen in future blogs. So if your family lived in townlands where the property was owned by the Kerry landlords below lookout for the weekly blogs with information on each:
Benn-Walsh (Lord Ormathwaite), Blennerhassett, Boyle (Earl of Cork), Browne (Earls of Kenmare), Collis, Crosbie, De Moleyn (Lord Ventry), Denny, Fitzgerald (Knights of Kerry), Fitzmaurice (Earls of Kerry), Gun, Hare (Lord Listowel), Lady Anne Headley, Herbert, Hurley/Fuller, Petty-Fitzmaurice (Earls of Lansdowne), Locke, Mahony (Dromore & Dunloe), McGillycuddy of the Reeks, O’Connell of Derrynane, Rowan, Sandes, Spring-Rice, Stoughton, Trinity College Estates.
Thank you very much for this information. It is very interesting. I never thought to look up this part of the history of my ancestors.I am looking forward to the future articles.
Kay, I am very interested in this topic. I would love to hear whatever you know or can find out about the Bland Estate of 30,000 acres in the vicinity of Sneem from 1732 to the late 1800’s. I have the book “The Knot in the Ring” which profiles the major Bland descendants who were in charge throughout the existence of the estate. Accessing rent books and the like would be wonderful because my Burns ancestors were there. Regards, Court Storey, Afton, Minnesota, USA
Court, I have been reminded about the Blands by another reader – I just forgot about them, but will include the Blands but you probably know more about them than I do! Lets see what we can come up with. Kay
A great project! But it would be a pity to omit the Blands of Derryquin who had about 40,000 acres around Sneem. Possibly also the Orpens, Taylors and Palmers?
Bob, thanks for reminding me of the Blands – I will definitely include those as I have had an interest in them for years from my visits to Parknasilla. The Orpens are another interesting bunch! So leave it with me, I will see how many I can get through.
I’m interested on anything on the Palmers. My great, great, great grandfather Richard O’Connor married an Ann Palmer from Kenmare c.1800. I have read a history of the Palmers dated 1872? but no mention of Ann, in fact little mention of any Palmer who married outside the C of I of which there were many. I’m hoping someone has done all the legwork and that a major part of my jigsaw in lying in a drawer somewhere!
Regards and good luck
Kay – this information will be invaluable to me in my research, and in a book I am writing about it. I look forward to seeing future posts. Your previous posts on various topics are treasure troves, filling in gaps that I have not been able to find elsewhere.
Doug, thank you. Kay
I’m 100% Irish. All my ancestors came from the Munster area in So. Cork and Kerry. Did some renters take their landlord’s names, as the Black slaves did in the American South? Were some of the housemaids impregnated by the lords, as also happened in the American South? And gave the child the lord’s surname. My great great grandmother was Honora Fitzgerald, probably from the general area of Listowel, Kerry. She married Jeremiah Hurley. Their oldest son Thomas, b. 1815, is my paternal great grandfather. If several of the children, including Thomas, had to flee the poverty of the island, obviously they weren’t people of property. Maurice is a popular Christian name in our U.S. family, at least from the Kerry ancestors, and that sounds Norman also. We believe my Cork immigrant grandfather John Hurley’s mother was born a Brown/Browne (on your landlord list), certainly not a Gaelic surname. This is very interesting, Kay. Thank you. I have purchased your book, “Finding Ancestors in Kerry,” and refer to it regularly. Your blog and other publications may help some of us find a more precise geographic origin for our kin.
Carol, no tenants didn’t take their landlord’s names – they didn’t necessarily work for the landlords, many of whom were non-resident. They were tenants plain and simple. You are correct though in the ‘advantages’ that acruued to landlord or agent who collected the rent and felt that this should give them a right to have sexual encounters with the tenants daughters, with or without their agreement.
1815 is early for researching a birth in Kerry. While Listowel town registers start earlier than this, your Honora Fitzgerald may be from an outlying area (e.g. Duagh, Moyvane, Ballybunion, Ballylongford etc) which would all start much later. I will email you a Query Form and I can give a quick look and advise you where to go from here.
I have Hanlon and Stacks as ancestors in North Kerry, the name Stoughton is familiar as one of the main landlords around North Kerry and lived nearby to the Hanlons. The other prominent name that comes up is William Gunn as well as other members of the family.
I think the Hanlons had a reasonable time with the Gunn’s but Stoughton was not a good landlord of the Stacks who in places owned
their own land.
Somewhere I have a letter praising one of these landlords so I’ll try and locate it if you wish to post it.
Ken, I would be delighted if you could email me a copy of that letter – at your leisure and I will of course credit you for any sources that I might use from it. The Gunns and Stoughtons owned land themselves but they also were ‘middlemen’ for the Trinity College Estates, principally in the Cahiciveen area. As Protestants they were ‘persona grata’ to act as agents/middlemen but then in turn they sub-let to Daniel O’Connell’s family until it all came to a stick end in 1869.
Who would the tenants of Killorglin, Sunhill have come under please in the 1830’s onwards? Do you know? Thank you, Dawn MAY
Dawn, there is no actual townland called Sunhill so its impossible to say – probably Lord Ventry or Blennerhasset. (I know the location called ‘Sunhill’ but this is not an actual townland.)
Kay is correct on both points!. The town land in killorglin where the sunhill address appears is actually gurrane east/west.
Secondly, the Most likely landlord in the killorglin area was blennerhassett. Mullins(Lord ventry) to a lesser degree.
Our townland is douglas&blennerhasset definitely was the landlord of the time.
My families lived in Kealduff townland (McCarty and Riordan) which was the property of Lady Headley. We visited the Headley home (Aghadoe House) near Killarney. It is now operated as a Youth Hostel. On a wall in the communal dining room is a photographic display of the Headley family and a thumbnail history.
I can’t wait to read you post on this landlord!
Always look forward to reading your work and thank you for sharing.
Richard Hinde was listed as the resident Kerry landlord for my Shaughnessy ancestors in Carhoonakineely near Tarbert in the 1840’s. My ancestors left Ireland for the USA in the late 40’s during the famine. I would love to know wahat happened to Mr Hinde and the land after the famine.
Kay, I really enjoy reading your posts about Kerry.
I look forward to future posts.
I have looked into the Landlord Benn-Walsh and his stewardship of his “pet” townland Derrindaff in Duagh – not sure the tenants enjoyed existing on the estate of an “improving landlord” !
His journals are a treasure trove. He “emigrated” a number of tenants, One branch of my family tree – the Kirbys of Derrindaff – a number of them – spelt Kerby in those days – left in the 1840s and made successful lives for themselves in the US. If you manage to mine some information on assisted emigration that would be brilliant.
I am sure you are well aware of the activities of George Sands etc.
Plus the agents\employees of Lord Listowel were unpleasant money-grabbing bunch… Crosbie \ Marshall \ Hill.
Best of luck with the work,
PS – not applicable as they were in Abbeyfeale but the Ellis landlord family were quite something – a talented family.
Plus the Creagh-Harnetts of Moynsha – not major landlords and very benign – the survival of Moynsha house in 1920s Ireland tells its own story.
John, Yes, I ‘enjoyed’ if thats the correct word, reading Benn-Walshes’ diaries. I first came across them when typing out John Pierse’s great book Teampall Bán, and it amused me too when he had ‘pets’ that he really liked and others he was very quick to get rid of but overall I think his aim was get his tenants up and out, working and as you say ‘improving’ their land. There was a Moloney (my own name – no relation) in Derrindaffe that he praised.
John, I am a local historian from Abbeyfeale, and through the Heritage Council of Ireland, and Abbeyfeale Community Council, have been successful in writing a number of reports on the development of Abbeyfeale in the medieval period. These reports mainly focus on the Cistercian origins of the town, via Port Castle, and the Monastery which existed within the towns historic core, the role the monks played in medieval times and the interplay of power between the Cistercians and the Fitzgerald family and the british royalty etc. I find the whole topic most interesting. Down the road I would like to carry out more research post the arrival of elizabethen military campaigners. I have also carried out investigations which relate to the Ellis family, ‘Glenashrone House’ etc. I have some maps of the house and one solitary picture of the entrance porch of same. I can forward same to you if you are interested. My main motive is to collate information, and archive same in the local library for future generations, something which I have done successfully to date. Interestingly also there seem to have been shifts in the Kerry Limerick throughout the passage of time. If you have any information on the Ellis family I would be most interested in same. If you could forward same to me or give me a phone call it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Ruairi Dennison. email@example.com 0876895783
I am also a Kirby descendant of the Dirrindaff Kirbys and Connors. I do have records for four of the Kirbys who immigrated to New Orleans in 1849. Are you guessing that Benn-Walsh “assisted” this event?
Andy and John, do you access to Been-Walsh’s diaries? If not, I can look that up for you. Kay C.
My Great Grandfather was Patrick Carroll and according to the 1911 census lived in Kilcolman, Astee, North Kerry and was born in June 1835 or 1836. He is buried in Killehenny cemetry (Ballybunion) in a family grave which has a reference to Roger Carroll married to Ellen Neligan and may be his parents but we cannot verify this.
He lived with his wife and children in a modest longhouse attached to two other houses in which lived families also with the name of Carroll; none of the three families were related to each other in any way. The only other family in the immediate locality was Stack.
My great grandfather owned about 150 acres of good quality agricultural land, this compared to the other three families who owned considerably less; maybe 50 acres each. I was born in 1946 and live there until I was 5 years old; we lived a modest life farming 13 milking cows plus a few pigs and chickens and fed ourselves of the land, (cabbage and bacon and potatoes every day).
In the Shannonside Journal of 1993 under Asdee 1850 as an extract from Griffiths valuation of 1850 and lists Thomas O’Connor as the Kilcolman landlord.
Is it possible to find out when he took possession of the land and why he would have so much more than his neighbours even though no richer than they were?
Is it possible to trace back any further than my 1835 Great Grandfather?
I love following your posts find them extremely interesting.
Great work, yours John Nolan
Yes I can see a large number of Carroll names occupying land in Kilcolman in 1852. While it states that Thomas O’Connor is the ‘Immediate Lessor’ meaning the person to whom the rent is paid, it is not always or even usually the ultimate landlord. I haven’t researched that townland but I have a feeling it could have belonged to the Earl of Kerry and then Lord Listowel. However, to check this, you go to the Valuation Office in Dublin with the details from the Griffiths list and you will be able to follow the entire process of the land including any changes in the acreage to at least 1933. I find that most occupiers bought out their land between 1890 and 1905.
Looking forward to your blog on Lady Anne Headley, landlady (?) to some ancestors outside Glenbeigh in the late 1`9th century.
Great article. Thank you. Wondering about any records of Ballylongford leases or leaseholders for Pierce Crosbie. Not sure if ones listed in National Library are for the same person. I think my great-great-grandmother is the same as Mary Hanlon in Griffith’s in this town leasing from Pierce Crosbie and would like to know if and when and from whom the lease transferred, If this is a question that I should commission your research services, would like to do so.
Maureen, if you have identified your ancestor in Griffiths, the next step is a visit to the Valuation Office. Nothing online here – its a personal visit and you can follow the change of ownership down through the years. The last time I was there (a few weeks ago) I got down to 1933 in a different location but I think you could get right down to the 1990s. Let me know if you would like to pursue this and I can give you a quote. Thank you,
Michael Kirby, of Duagh Parrish, Derrindaff Townland, emigrated to the US in late 1849 with other Irish who were probably from near Listowel in County Kerry. It’s also likely he was traveling with other famine emigrants from Duagh. The barque “Bridgetown” was originally scheduled to leave Cork on 28 October 1849, but appears to have sailed about 2 November with some 258 Irish passengers in steerage and a small crew under master John Mills. It arrived at New Orleans on Christmas day and everyone was disembarked by 26 December, according to the official ship records. Coming into the US at New Orleans was far less typical for the Irish than coming to New York because the journey to New Orleans was about two weeks longer. This journey was about 53 days at sea. There is also a brief written account of the voyage by one of the few cabin passengers that offers some firsthand details of the journey.
The first page of the ship manifest shows “Listowel” as “place of residence” for the passengers; however, this is crossed out and replaced with “Irish” for all the subsequent 258 steerage passengers. Michael Kirby is apparently the younger of two Kirby men traveling with two Kirby women. It’s likely these Kirbys were siblings or relatives all from Derrindaff because they are all listed together. The entire ship manifest is online for anyone who wants to research whether their Derrindaff ancestors were on board. There were only about thirteen families living in Derrindaff at that time, but many of these passengers were from Kerry.
Do any of the Benn-Walsh journals reference the Kirbys living in Derrindaff? I forgot to mention that Michael Kirby (who emigrated in 1849), came from a very large family with parents Michael Kerby and Hanora Connor. There are probably many Kirby and Connor descendants now living in the US eating more than just potatoes.
Andy, I seem to have missed this one earlier on. (Sometimes I get deluged with emails and some escape my attention – apologies). I am very interested in this one and will reply separately by email to you.
The Direct answer to your question is that I am not sure if the Benn-Walsh Journals mention the Kirbys as tenants. But they may well have been mentioned as far back as 1750 as it was the Fitzmaurices, earls of Kerry who sold the land to Benn-Walsh. I have just completed a book (after 5 years research!) on the story of the last Earls of Kerry and how they lost everything including the sale to Benn-Walsh family and the Hares (later Lord Listowel). Again I have a list of their tenants in the mid to late 1770s which I will be copying to my blog as time goes on. My book The Fall of the Fitzmaurices: The Demise of Kerry’s First Family is due for publication at the end of this month.
I love reading your blog. Have you done one on the landlord Collis yet? If so I have somehow missed it. My 4th great grandfather was William Collis of Tralee who died in 1834. I know he was a landlord but don’t know much about him.
Robbie, I haven’t done any research on the Collis family. I am attaching here a snip from Landed Estates website.
The Collis family seem to have become established in county Kerry after the Cromwellian settlement and rose to prominence in the county as a number of them served as High Sheriff. The Ordnance Survey Name Books indicate that Stephen Collis acted as agent for the Earls of Listowel. In the 1870s the estate of Stephen Collis of Tierclea, Tarbert amounted to over 3500 acres. The estate of William Collis, of Lismore, barony of Trughanacmy, was offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court, in May 1851. A further 299 acres of Collis lands in the same barony were offered for sale in the Landed Estates Court in April 1871. In 1863, part of the estate of John Collis, including lands at Barrow, houses in Tralee and the rental of townlands in teh barony of Coshlea, county Limerick, were offered for sale in the Landed Estates Court. In 1906 terms had been arranged by the Congested Districts Board for the purchase of over 8800 acres of the Collis-Sandes estate in county Kerry.