The Irish 'Census' of 1659
If you have come to a dead end with your 19th century research - start here! Find out where your family is located in the 1600’s.
Oh, yes, and don’t forget that your name was sometimes spelled differently than the way you spell it today.
Surviving the great events of the 17th century are rare annals in which our families are found. I recommend that you become familiar with them. It will pay you to know where your family was, or where it might have been at that time. We will outline some of these Annals here. They will help you make a very educated guess as to where your family is found in these turbulent times.
Rev. Geoffrey Keating. Brother Michael O'Clery
These two men, compiled two of the greatest histories ever written on Ireland. Geoffrey Keating was born in Co. Tipperary around 1569. He would go to study in Europe and return to Ireland in 1610. He is the author of Keatings 'History of Ireland'.
Old Gaelic Works
Brother Michael O'Clery was born in Kilbarron Castle in County Donegal. O'Clery would also travel to Europe and return to Ireland. He was the primary author of the 'Annals of Ireland' by the Four Masters. Both O'Clery and Keating would complete their histories by 1636. Both works were written only in the Gaelic language. The two histories are very different however, in form and style.
As the 17th century began, these two histories did not exist. By the close of the century the old Gaelic way of life had been crushed. A few thoughtful men saw what was coming. In a final desperate attempt to record their heritage, they recorded it in these great histories. Something must have been in the air. Fergal O'Gara, lord of Moy O'Gara, sponsored the work of the Four Masters. The O'Gara would soon thereafter be stripped of his hereditary lands in County Donegal. His fate was not unique among the Irish.
The census of 1659 would also survive. It helped record the transfer of land ownership from the Irish to the new settlers from Scotland and England.
The North of Ireland
Another book we will consider here is 'The Conquest of Ireland"... An Historical and Genealogical Account of the Plantation in Ulster, by the Rev. George Hill. It records just how the Irish lost their lands, and what specific individuals assumed the ownership in the 17th century. Both the census of 1659; and the work by Hill give family researchers specific names and locations of families in that time period.
Also of note in the 17th century is the military defeat and exile of the 'wild geese' of Ireland. Many would end up in Europe. 'King James's Irish Army list' attempts to list every member in the ranks of the defeated Irish army, along with family history notes of any sort available.
17th Century Annals are remarkable:
1609 - Conquest of Ireland, an historical and genealogical account.
1634 - Keatings History of Ireland completed in Gaelic.
1636 - Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters, completed in Gaelic.
1659 - 'The 1659 Census of Ireland'.
1689 - King James's Irish Army List, records the 'Wild Geese'.The Wild Geese, Exiled Irish Army 1689