Tithe applotment books 1823–38...

The tithe was not a tax but a charge upon land.

The tithe system earmarked one-tenth of the produce of the land for the maintenance of the clergy. In Ireland, because the tithe system was used for the upkeep of the Established Church only, it caused a great deal of unrest among Roman Catholics and Presbyterians.

In 1823 the Tithe Applotment Act was passed, which stipulated that henceforth all tithes due to the Established Church were to be paid in money rather than in kind. This necessitated a complete valuation of all tithable land in Ireland, the results of which are contained in the manuscript tithe applotment books for each civil parish.

For the Newry the tithe applotment books are available in PRONI under reference FIN/5A. A printed list of the tithe books is available in the Public Search Room of PRONI.

The tithe applotment books are unique records giving details of land occupation and valuations for individual holdings prior to the devastation brought about by the Great Famine and the resulting mass emigration. They list the occupiers of tithable land and are not a list of householders, as is the case in a census. Therefore, landless labourers and weavers were omitted, in addition to all purely urban dwellers.

For a small number of parishes – the County Down portion of Newry, for example – there is no tithe book. In 1838 the tithe payment was reduced by 25% and transferred from the tenant to the landowner. Tithes were finally abolished in Ireland in 1869. An index to the Tithe Applotment Books for Northern Ireland is available on CD-ROM from Heritage World.