Thomas Barry in Kilkenny, Ireland

Like everything else this year the Celtic Connections Conference went virtual.  That gave me the opportunity to attend, as the dates of the live event would have conflicted with several local things I would have been involved with.  There were several presentation dealing with Griffiths Valuation.  Although I’d used it several times in the past, I learned a great deal more about it in the conference.  

Griffiths Valuation

The Griffiths Valuation was a property tax based on what income could be produced annually from the land.   It was carried out from 1847 to 1864 starting in the south of Ireland and moving north.  Every area of land and building were measured and the person leasing the property was named.  Irish census began in 1821 and occurred every 10 years, however the majority of the census records were either destroyed by the 1922 fire at Four Courts or were pulped for making paper in WWI.  The only fully existing census records are from 1901 and 1911.  Some fragments of earlier census exist and can be found on the National Archives of Ireland website. Because of the loss of early census records the Griffith Valuation and the Revision books are now used by genealogists as census substitutes.

Thomas Barry, 2nd Great Grandfather

My 2nd great grandfather was Thomas Barry.  My Dad had built extensive family trees for both his side of the family and my Mom’s family.  As the only child I obtained all the records after their deaths.  Dad’s information said that Thomas Barry and his wife Mary (Aide) Barry lived in the Village of Ballyhale, County Kilkenny, Ireland.  I found baptismal records for Edward, my great grandfather, born in 1840 and for his sister, Mary, born 1843.  The Roman Catholic church there did not have any records that had survived for Thomas and Mary’s wedding or either of their baptisms.

After learning that FindMyPast listed the exact date that the Griffiths Valuation was printed, and that it took 3 months to compile and print, I decided to look and see if Thomas Barry, was listed there.  Griffiths Valuation for Kilkenny was published in April 1850.  I really didn’t expect to find him listed there, as the 1855 census for Evans, Erie County, New York state indicated the family had been residence there for 5 years.

The children’s baptismal records indicated the townland where the family lived at that time.  Edward’s baptismal record is shown in figure 1. Starting at the left it has Feby 11 Ned Tom Barry Mary Aide and on the 2nd line Martin Millea Cath Millea and Moanroe.  Mary’s baptismal record in 1843 also listed Moanroe.

Figure 1. Edward Barry’s baptismal record 11 Feb 1840 Ballyhale Catholic Parish, Kilkenny

I looked for Thomas Barry in Griffiths Valuation in Moanroe Commons, Kilkenny.  To my surprise I found that Thomas Barry leased land in Moanroe Commons along with Anastasia Barry.  I had no idea who Anastasia Barry was, as far as anyone in the family.  I knew she had to be a widow, as the only women in Griffiths Valuation were either widows on their husband’s land or the landowner, and she was clearly not the owner here.  But where did Thomas live?  I broadened my search to nearby townlands and found that he had a house in Knocktopher Manor which was next door to Moanroe Commons.  The Griffiths Valuation for Knocktopher Manor is in figure 2.  Anastasia had a house next door to Thomas, and the land they shared in Moanroe Commons backed into the location of their houses.  Figure 2 is a composite of the top of the page of Griffiths Valuation which shows the column heading and the listings for Knocktopher Manor which was at the bottom of the page. 

Figure 2. Griffith Valuation for Knocktopher Manor, Knocktopher, Kilkenny.

The numbers and letter in the first column indicate the location on the map, and the small a and b indicates house.  Column 2 has the name os the occupants.  Parentheses surrounding Thomas’ and Anastasia’s names  indicate that each of them is responsible for the tax on the house and land.  The immediate lessor is Thomas Norman, Esq. who seems to lease a good bit of land here.  He may not be the actual owner and was subletting the land, but more research is needed to determine that. Column 3 has house, office and land.  An office is not what we’d think of today.  It could be a barn, or a stable. Content of the land is in acres, roods and perches.  A rood is 1/4 of an acre, and there are 40 perches in a rood.  The net value would be how much income could be expected from that land in a year.  The net value of the buildings would mainly be for the house.  They had to pay tax of 1£ 2 shilling on the house. I learned from Fiona Fitzsimmons Celtic Connections presentation that a house with a tax about this amount would be made of cob walls.  Cob was made from mud and straw and usually white-washed to help keep out the weather.  When the house was abandoned, and no one was any longer living there, heating it and caring for it, the house would just melt into the landscape.  Using the numbers in column 1 we can look on the map and find the location. The map for Knocktopher Manor and Moanroe Commons is shown in figure 3.  I’ve circled 6a and b in Knocktopher Manor where Thomas and Anastasia Barry lived.  The land they had in Moanroe Commons is 11, so it basically is their back yard.

Figure 3. Map showing Moanroe Commons and Knocktopher.

What’s more Thomas’ next door neighbor was Martin Millea.  His house is at 5a, shown both in figures 2 and 3.  It just happened that Martin Millea was one of the sponsors on Edward’s baptismal records, shown in figure 1!  This had to be my Thomas Barry!!  That would leave just about a 6-month window from when they left Ireland and arrived in the US. I planned to add several months on either side when I started digging in ship arrival records, just in case. My latest hypothesis was that this was my Thomas Barry and Anastasia was his mother.  This totally threw out two earlier hypotheses I had.  One was based on a Barry DNA match whose family was in Thomastown, and had a Thomas baptized in 1812 with parents Js Barry and Ellen Shea.  That hypothesis had been based on this Thomas’ baptismal record that showed James Comerford as the sponsor, and he had been a witness at the wedding of Mary Barry, who was a daughter in the family there.  Thomastown RC is the next RC parish to Ballyhale RC and only a few miles away, so it seemed a reasonable hypothesis.  The other hypothesis was based on an Aide cousin to Thomas’ wife, Mary, whose naturalization papers said he’d arrived in the US via Buffalo, NY in 1846.  Buffalo is only a short distance from Evans, NY and since families, neighbors and friends often traveled from Ireland to US, this also seemed a reasonable hypothesis.

Anastasia Barry

So who is Anastasia Barry? There’s no mention of her in any of the family notes or tree that my Dad had done. But then again he never says anything about Thomas’ parents. Dad likely got his family information from his father, Frank, who would have gotten it from Edward. My Dad was only 5 when his grandfather Edward died. It’s unlikely his grandfather told him any family information. Edward, born in 1840 and in the US at least by 1855, may not have known his grandparents at all. That would mainly depend on when the family left Ireland and Edward’s age at the time.

I searched FindMyPast baptismal records for Ballyhale Catholic parish using Barry surname and An* as the mother’s forename and found two records; Margaret born in 1825 and Nellie born in 1831. The earliest surviving baptismal records for Ballyhale Catholic parish are in 1823 according to John Grenham’s website. Thomas likely was born before that time. Those two baptismal records list John Barry as the father and Anastasia Riley as the mother. Potentially these are Thomas’ parents and Margaret and Nellie are his sisters.

Revision Books

Every few years after the Griffiths Valuation a revision was done.  Since this was a record for collecting tax, it was necessary to update the person living there that would be required to pay the tax.  The Revision books started just after Griffith Valuation and continued to the 1980s.  These Revision books are housed in the Valuation Office in Dublin.  Some have been digitized, but not all, and none of them are online at this time.  I emailed the Valuation Office asking about this location where Thomas Barry was in Knocktopher Manor.  I fully expected a reply telling me how to apply for the information and the cost.  However, the next day I received an email with 2 pages from the Revision books.   Thomas took over the lease from Anastasia in the 1860-62 timeframe.  That likely indicates that she died, but Civil records for death did not start until 1878. Thomas is replaced by Eliza Barry in 1882, and Eliza is replaced by Richard Moore in 1883.  Figure 4 shows the Revision book for 1876-1883.

Figure 4. Revision book for 1876-1883 showing Thomas Barry in Knocktopher.

Checking the civil death records Thomas died 31 Oct 1881 as reported by his son, John.  Elizabeth Barry, widow of Thomas Barry, farmer, died 8 May 1882 again reported by son John.  This is not my Thomas Barry, as I know he was in NY in June 1855.  I’d heard many times how unusual the surname Barry was in Kilkenny.  So it had never occurred to me that there could be two Thomas Barry’s in the same area of Kilkenny!  

Validation Books

Now what to do?  Prior to Griffiths Valuation there had been Field Books which described the land, quality of the soil etc but also listed the name of the person on that land.  There had also been House Books which listed the houses on the land and what had already been surveyed in preparation for the later valuation.  FindMyPast had Field books from 1848 and House books for 1845 and 1848.  Thomas Barry who lived in Knocktopher Manor and died in 1881 was found with his house in Knocktopher Manor in 1845 and 1848.  But looking at the House books also for Moanroe Commons, since the children’s baptismal records said that was where my Thomas Barry lived, I couldn’t find him in 1848, but there he was in 1845!  In the 1845 House Book both my Thomas Barry in Moanroe Commons and the Thomas Barry who had a house in Knocktopher Manor were listed!  This appears to tell me that my Thomas Barry who was there in 1845 and not in 1848 left Ireland for the US after 1845 and before 1848.  Maybe they did travel with the Aide cousins, and maybe he was baptized in 1812 in Thomastown.  Lots more research needs to be done.  But now I do have an earliest date for his arrival in the US when I start searching passenger records.

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