Estates in the County sold by the Encumbered Estates & Landed Estates Courts 1850-74
During the Famine many estates were mortgaged and landowners unable to collect rents were forced to sell their estates. By an act of parliament in 1849 an Encumbered Estates Court was established with authority to sell estates on the application of the owner or encumbrancer (one who had a claim on the estate). After the sale the court distributed the money among the creditors and granted clear title to the new owners. The functions of the court were assumed by the Landed Estates Court in 1858. By 1881 the Landed Estates Court was replaced by the Land Commission set up under the 1881 Land Act.
Particulars of sale were issued before the sale of a property. In order to attract potential buyers, the particulars contained very detailed information on the tenants and holdings on each estate. Included are rentals, maps of the estate giving tenants’ names and, on occasion, surveys of the estate.
Estates sold throughout the county of Londonderry as a result of this legislation included the estate of Leslie Alexander [Goldsmiths’ Estate] sold in 1855 and the estate of the Marquis of Waterford sold in 1871. Both of these estates covered large areas.
The Alexander estate included some 30 townlands, mostly in the parish of Clondermot. Details of this sale for every townland has been reproduced in the recent publication by the Newbuildings and District Archaeological and Historical Society, In the Shadow of the Tail of the Fox: A History of New Buildings & District, 2002 , pp. 67-93.
The Waterford estate included 148 lots with townlands in the parishes of Aghanloo, Drumachose, Balteagh, Bovevagh and Dungiven in the barony of Keenaght; the parishes of Aghadowey, Desertoghill and Errigal in the barony of Coleraine; and lands in and around the town of Coleraine. This geographical spread reflects the fact that the Waterford estate [accumulated by the Beresfords] included native freeholds, crown freeholds in the baronies of Coleraine and Keenaght plus, what had been, the Haberdashers’ estate around Limavady. The Waterford Estate was sold under the Landed Estates Court.
I have databased the estates sold between 1850-1874 giving the date of the sale, the individual lots offered for sale [usually a townland or part of a townland], the parish and barony in which the estate was situated and the PRONI Ref. No. where the details of the rentals, maps, etc. can be found. Note that estates sold after 1858 were sold by the Landed Estates Court. There is a column in the database that identifies whether the sale was under the Encumbered Estates Court [EEC] or the Landed Estates Court [LEC]. Clearly sales under the Landed Estates Court continued after the 1870s and you can search for these using the PRONI eCatalogue.
An index to Encumbered Estates Court sales, covering the years 1850-59, is also available in PRONI on microfilm MIC80/2.
Copyright 2010 W. Macafee.