Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland
curated-collections-iconCurated Collection

Deeds, Wills and Memorials

In partnership with Tailte Éireann, Registry of Deeds

About this Collection

‘A Magnificent Collection Preserved in its Entirety’

The Registry of Deeds was established by an act of the Irish Parliament in 1707 titled: ‘An Act for the Publick Registering of all Deeds, Conveyances and Wills that shall be made of any Honors, Manors, Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments’. The Registry’s primary function was to record the existence of deeds affecting a property. The system of property registration, born in the context of the Penal Laws in Ireland, was intended to prevent forgeries and fraudulent gifts of land, particularly by Roman Catholics, or papists, as referred to in the act.

The Registry of Deeds operates today as part of the Registration Services of Tailte Éireann, an independent Government agency under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Tailte Éireann was formed on 1 March 2023 by the merger of the Property Registration Authority (PRA), the Valuation Office and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI).

In the past, whether by fire, by flood or through negligence, the loss of the most important public records of Ireland has been tragic. But happily at the Registry of Deeds, we have a magnificent collection of documents, which during the [315] years of its existence, has been preserved in its entirety.

P. B. Phair, ‘Guide to the Registry of Deeds’, Analecta Hibernica, 23 (1966), 268.
The Registry of Deeds Records

On 29th March 1708 at five o’clock in the afternoon, the first deed was registered at the Registry of Deeds. Though registration was not compulsory, 589,100 deeds had been registered by the end of 1832, increasing to over 2.1 million deeds by 1929.

As deeds were returned to the lodging party after registration, the Memorial, a synopsis of the original deed, is the fullest statement of a property transaction that the Registry of Deeds can provide. A Memorial includes the names of the parties, description of the land or property effected, witnesses to the deed, original signatures, and frequently, the value of the transaction and recital of earlier transactions relating to the same property.

Other records created by the Registry of Deeds include Transcript Books, containing full transcripts of the memorials, finding aids such as Abstract Books, Names Indexes and Lands Indexes, and less well-known records such as Anonymous Business Partnership records (1786–1860), Satisfactions (1708–1832), and Civil Bill Decree Book (1816–83).

As well as providing a comprehensive account of property transactions throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Ireland, the Registry of Deeds records are a significant, and underutilised, source for social, economic, local and family history research in Ireland.

For researchers interested in learning more, Dr Patrick Walsh’s Introduction to the Memorials and Transcription Books at the Registry of Deeds provides an excellent starting point for further investigation.

Collection Name: Deeds, Wills and Memorials

Stories from this Curated Collection