Tithes were an income tax on farming.
Usually about one tenth of the annual income. These were used for
the upkeep of the Church of Ireland and were paid from the time
of the Reformation. Before the Composition Act of 1823 it was
possible to pay them in kind instead of money. From the time of
the Composition Act they were supposed to be paid in cash and
Tithe surveys were carried out in each Parish to assess what the
income for that parish would be. Two people were a appointed by
each parish to carry out this assessment.
Both Catholics and Protestants resented
this tax - Tax was not payable on all land, and there was even
variation on the types of land from place to place. From 1736
grazing land had an exemption - this was usually land held by
landlords. Certain crops were taxable, others weren't. Potatoes
could be taxable in one parish and not in the one next door.
Tithe books are not comprehensive.
People who did not hold land are not listed and some types of
land were passed over absolutely. Towns and cities were usually
not assessed. They are arranged by townslands and usually give
the acreage held by each farmer. However, note here that the
measurement used was the plantation or Irish acre which differs
in size from the imperial or English acre used in the Griffiths
Valuation. The information you get from the Tithe Books is simple:
Some will list the Landlords
name as well. The original tithe books for the 26 counties of the Republic of
Ireland are held in the National Archives in Dublin. Those for the 6 counties of
Northern Ireland were transferred to the PRONI in Belfast. Copies remain in Dublin in the National
Archives and National Library.
Tithe Defaulters: Both
Catholics and Protestants objected to paying of Tithes. In 1830
Catholic Parishioners in Graiguenamanagh in Co. Kilkenny withheld
their tithes. In 1832, they were followed by those in most parts
of South Leinster and Munster and violence erupted - The 'Tithe
The Church of Ireland Ministers
therefore ended up without this money during 1831. It was
necessary for them in order to claim from the Clergy Relief Fund
to draw up a list of Parishioners who had defaulted on the Tithes.
A total of 499 Lists/Schedules of
Defaulters were submitted in order to avail of the relief fund.
127 of these still survive. - Lists of Tithe Defaulters.
They are not written up alphabetically,
and it is necessary to go through each book for each county and
for some there are a number of books. (Some of these have been
produced on CD-ROM. i.e. 53 of these books relate to Kilkenny; 30
to Tipperary; some coverage of Laois, Carlow, Offaly, Meath,
Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Louth Waterford and Wexford). The Quaker
records show lists of those who defaulted on Tithes also.