Perpetuity Leases in the Townland of Ballymacilcurr on the Bellaghy Estate

The townland of Ballymacilcurr which is located in the parish of Maghera in the barony of Loughinsholin was part of the Vintners’ Estate that that was purchased by the Conolly family in 1729. See map of townlands on the Bellaghy estate.  The estate lay within the parishes of Killelagh, Maghera, Tamlaght O’Crilly, Ballyscullion, Termoneeeny, Kilcronaghan and Desertmartin. As you can see from the map all of the townlands within the estate were not contiguous. They were separated in places by Churchlands, Crown Freeholds land land held by the Mercers’ Estate.

Rentals of 1718 [PRONI: D2094/21] and 1729 [PRONI: D2094/29-30] showed that the entire townland of Ballymacilcurr had been leased in 1718 by John and David Gray and Partners in 1718 - the rent for the lot being £11. In 1729 the rent had risen to £15.

Conolly died during 1729 and the purchase of the estate was completed by his nephew, also a William Conolly. Because £10,000 of the £15,000 purchase money for the estate was due by 1734, William Conolly granted many perpetuities on the estate at that time. Because perpetuities included initial fines that were reasonably substantial this was a quick way of raising cash initially. Also tenants holding perpetuities were regarded as freeholders and freeholders could vote.

In 1734 four perpetuity leases were granted in Ballymacilcurr. The location of these four leases are shown in the left map below. Note how they can still be identified in the 1859 Griffiith's Valuation Map on the right. The survival of a lease book [PRONI: D1062/1/5] gives details of these 1734 leases and the changes that took place during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Below you will see extracts from the lease book that list not only the lessees in the townland at different times throughout the eighteenth century but also the names of the various new lives inserted during this period. Perpetuity leases were also known as three lives, renewable for ever leases. Initially when a lease was taken out three lives were inserted. These were often the children of some of the lessees. A fine usually equal to half of the annual rent was paid on each life. Thereafter new lives could be inserted, for ever, to replace each life as it expired. Again, a fine of half the rent had to be paid for each new life.

Below are pages 86 and 87 from the 1859 Griffith's Valuation Book. I have identified the Houses and Farms that "belong" to each of the four leases [above].

Below are the names of the persons paying tithes c.1828 and below that is a table containing data from the 1831 Enumerators' Returns. The information in these two documents should help you to trace the changes and the continuity of families in Ballymacilcurr from 1734 to 1859.

Note that the acreage quoted in the 1828 Tithe Applotment Book are Irish Acres. Multiplying them by 1.6 will convert them to English Statute Acres. These appear in pencil above each acreage.

Note that only the name of the Head of Household was recorded for each house in the 1831 Enumerators' Returns.

Pages from the 1831 Townland Valuation.

Copyright 2018 W. Macafee.