The Townland of Moyletra Toy in the Parish of Desertoghill

The townland of Moyletra Toy is located near to the town of Garvagh, south of the road to Kilrea [see map of the locality]. During the nineteenth century Moyletra Toy was part of the civil parish of Desertoghill in the Barony of Coleraine. Later it was part of the District Electoral Division of The Grove in the Poor Law Union of Ballymoney until 1899 when it was transferred to The Union of Coleraine. Various parts of the townland have their own placenames. You can see these marked on th c.1860 Griffith's Valuation map.

As well as providing social and economic information on the townland, the sources for Moyletra Toy provide lists of names and maps that will enable you to locate holdings, houses and families who lived in the townland between c.1860 and 1911. Below you will also find some information relating to the earlier part of the nineteenth century.

1831 Census Returns Excel PDF
1832 Tithe Applotment Book Excel PDF
1832 Townland Valuation House details Valuation map
1859 Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation Printed pages Valuation map
1860 to 1929 Griffith's Revision Books Excel PDF
1901 Census Returns Excel PDF

The figures in the table below [compiled from the official census] show how the number of people and [inhabited houses] changed during the period 1831 to 1901.

Townland 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Moyletra Toy 198 [32] 241 [42] 214 [43] 227 [43] 173 [35] 174 [32] 149 [33] 118 [28]

The pattern of population change in this townland is different from most of the other townlands in these locality studies. The population of the townland was rising quite substantially up until the famine and the decline during the Famine decade was relatively low at 11%. In fact the population did not really start to decline until the 1870s and by 1901, like most other townlands in the locality studies, the numbers of people and houses in Moyletra Toy were half the numbers in 1831. The main reason for this different pattern of population decline was the domestic linen industry . A note in the Ordnance Survey Memoir of 1835 for the Parish of Desertoghill, p. 17 stated "There are 37 houses in Moyletra Toy, in 35 of which there are from 1 to 3 looms in each, and the weaving trade carried on extensively as there are many who live entirely by weaving." However, by the 1870s the domestic side of the industry was disappearing because it was unable to compete with the linen mills in Belfast and the Lagan valley.

The table below shows the religious breakdown of the population in the townland in the early nineteenth century, calculated from the 1831 Census Returns.

Townland Inhabited Houses Uninhabited Houses No. of Families Total in Houses E.C. % R.C. % Presb. % Others %
Moyletra Toy 32 0 32 198 17 9 66 33 115 58 0  

The 1831 Census Returns also list the names of the 32 householders. The Tithe Applotment Book of 1832 gives the names of the main landholders in the townland. 27 names are listed here, suggesting that most residents of the townland were either leaseholders, or at least occupied farms. You might want to compare these names and properties with those in the 1831 Census Returns and the 1859 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation and see how many you can match up.

The 1859 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation shows that this was a townland owned by the Church family. See also copy of 1859 Valuation Map. You can see a better map if you go to 1846-64. The majority of the tenants in the townland were relatively small farmers. This would be consistent with the statement in the OS Memoirs mentioned about the weaving trade. None of these smallholders' houses were listed in the 1832 Townland Valuation - which is not surprising. The latter part of the nineteenth century would see the consolidation of farms as the domestic linen industry disappeared from the scene.

The Griffith's Revision Books will show you the changes in each holding and help you to link the names and properties in the 1859 Griffith's Printed [Tenement] Valuation with those in the 1901 Census Returns. The table below shows the number of people and houses in the townland in 1901 and the religious breakdown of the population.

Townland Inhabited Houses Uninhabited Houses No. of Families Total in Houses E.C. % R.C. % Presb. % Others %
Moyletra Toy 28 2 28 118 13 11 20 17 85 72 0  

Apart from the sharp reduction in the number of families and houses, the major difference between 1831 and 1901is that there was a greater decline in the Roman Catholic population which had just about halved. The percentage of Presbyterians increased probably as a result of the consolidation of farms. I have to say, however, that I have not analysed these changes in any detail.

The occupational structure of the townland in 1901 reflects the changes outlined above. There were only two linen weavers left in the townland - the two unmarried sisters, Nancy and Mary McCooke, aged 38 and 36. Everyone else in the townland was involved in agriculture and one family, the Holmes, had opened a shop.


I initially chose this townland because I was interested in a family of Pollocks who had moved into the townland around 1880. I later discovered that Robert had been a linen weaver in the village of Ballynameen, just outside Garvagh. In many ways Robert was a "refugee" from the declining domestic linen industry who must have made enough money to "buy" himself a farm in Moyletra Toy.

Whilst the Pollocks were relative newcomers to the townland, the Church, Holmes and Gibson families have long been resident in Moyletra Toy; and their descendants are still there today.

Copyright 2018 W. Macafee.