Small Sources 56: This is a list of 213 people who purchased Indian Meal from the DeVesci Estate in the Civil Parish of Abbeyleix, Queen’s County (now Co. Laois) in July 1801. The background was that there were significant food shortages in Ireland during this year. Food prices had risen dramatically during the previous months, mainly due to the demand for food for the British Army which was then at war with France. This shortage caused great difficulties for all, but particularly for the poor. To relieve this distress, the Government banned the export of foodstuffs, and waived all duties on imported meal and flour. Corn meal, or Indian meal, was imported in large quantities from America, and was used as a substitute for wheat flour in the making of bread. This strategy was effective and Indian meal became widely available, as this example shows.
This list is from an account of purchases of Indian Meal among the DeVesci Papers in the National Library of Ireland (NLI Ms. 34,421). It shows the amount purchased per person, which ranges from 1 to 4 stone of meal, and the amount paid (see illustration below). The extensive DeVesci estate papers detail the properties and transactions of the family in several parts of Ireland. The estate was managed from Abbeyleix, where the family resided in Abbeyleix House (see picture above). Although residences for those on the list are not given, the people listed are all logically residents of the local area, and many are workers on the estate. Among several interesting aspects of the list is that 98, or 46%, are women, including 16 widows. Information on women is far less available in historic documents, as men tend to be listed as property owners, and as head of households. This document provides information on the names of women in this period. The most popular being Mary (19), Biddy or Bridget (9), Betty (6) and Catherine (4). A previous blog lists 87 women in Kilkenny and the names here generally match these.
There are also some interesting and unusual family names within the list: Haycock, Batterer, Oxbergh, Keravan and Larresy are all rare names, particularly in this county. Other names which are nationally rare, but mainly found in this county or region include Perkinson (a variant of Parkinson), and Loughman. There are also the names Vousdill and Oxbergh, for which there are no Irish references that I can find. Suggestions of Irish occurrences of these names would be welcome. Among the locally common names are Fitzpatrick, Bergin, Delany, Dooly, Phelan, Lalor (or Lawlor), Tierney and Tynan. Some common abbreviations of first names are used, such as Jno. = John; Jas. = James; Edwd. = Edward; Thos. = Thomas; Patt = Patrick; Wm. = William; Richd. = Richard. Bartle is a short name for Bartholomew. Some distinctive Irish names also occur such as Kyran (usually Kieran) and Darby (Dermot).
The images of the document above and below were created by Ancestor Network in the National Library of Ireland and are reproduced here through their courtesy. Ancestor Network will offer 1 free hour of research by a professional researcher to conduct further research on these individuals, or on other tenants of this estate. We can also obtain images of the original documents. Click here and quote ‘LaoisSSxx’ in the subject line.
Buggy, Widow (Bugg in 1 entry)
Byrne, Bartle Islan
Carter, Mrs. Rathmon?
Connor, Widow (Conner in 1)
Flinn, Mrs. (usually Flynn)
Harlford or Hartford, Kitty
Harlford, ” Edwd.
Hiland, Ned (usually Hyland)
Hiland, Patt ”
Holehan, Thos. (usually Holohan)
Kelly, Kyran for Mr. Dobbs
Kelly, Ned Foster
Kervan, Jno. (Kerevan in 1)
Stern ?, Mrs.
Toban, Laurence or Larry
Vousdill ? Mary
Wild, Mr. Thos.
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apers on Irish families, and is available from here.