1700-1900 Freeholders, Voter Lists and Poll Books, and Electoral Records

County-by-county records in these categories can be accessed through a subscription at the Irish Times website.

Freehold property is held either by fee simple, with absolute freedom to dispose of it, by fee tail, in which the disposition is restricted to a particular line of heirs, or simply by life tenure. From the early eighteenth century freeholders lists were drawn up regularly, usually because of the right to vote which went with freehold of property over a certain value. It follows that such lists are of genealogical interest only for a small minority of the population. Click here for a county-by-county inventory of Freemen and voters lists. 

Voters lists cover a slightly larger proportion of the population than Freeholders lists, since freehold property was not the only determinant of the franchise. In particular, freemen of the various corporation towns and cities had a right to vote in some elections at least. Since membership of a trade guild carried with it admission as a freeman, and this right was hereditary, a wider range of social classes is covered. Poll books are the records of votes actually cast in elections. Click here for a county-by-county inventory of Freemen and voters lists. 

No complete collection of the electoral lists used in the elections of this century exists. This is unfortunate, since they can be of great value in tracing living relatives, listing as they do all eligible voters by townland and household. The largest single collection of surviving electoral registers is to be found in the National Archives, but even here the coverage of many areas is quite skimpy. Click here for a county-by-county inventory of Freemen and voters lists. [Irish Times]


Copyright Martha H. Bowes 2007-Present