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Tithe-Payers in the Parishes of Badoney, Cappagh & Drumragh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland 1699

PRONI (T542, T542/1)
Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Robert Forrest, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

The tithe system earmarked one-tenth of the produce of the land for the maintenance of the clergy of the established Church of Ireland. Until 1823 tithes could be paid in money or in kind (the Tithe Composition Act of that year stipulated that henceforth all tithes were to be paid in money). It was unpopular in Ulster because the Church of Ireland was a minority religion and both Presbyterians and Catholics resented paying the tithe to an alien church.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries an increasing number of tithe transactions were arranged by ‘modus decimandi.’ This substituted monetary payments for tithe in kind and 'established modes of valuing tithe, in some places by the acre, in others by the quantity of produce'. (A Layman of the Church of England, Address to the Protestant clergy of Ireland, Dublin 1787). In 1751 in the parishes of Ardstraw, Urney and Camus fixed sums for tithe payments included 9d for a milch cow, 1d for a sheep 1d, 1d for a garden and 6d for a turf stack.

In accepting this system, the clergyman had to satisfy himself with less than the tenth to which he was legally entitled, as a due allowance had to be made for the harvest and collection of the tithe crops, a service which was not legally the onus of the parishioner. For many tithe owners, resulting disagreements and difficulties with parishioners forced the sale of their tithe to a middle-man known as a tithe farmer or a tithe-proctor. The proctor would generally be a substantial farmer familiar with the tithe system and had an intimate knowledge of the local people and parish.

It was the tithe proctor who initially evaluated and ultimately collected tithe for the beneficial clergyman or tithe-owner. The clergyman received a fixed sum and the excess was retained by the proctor who was therefore motivated to exact every last penny. Inevitably the proctor was unpopular in local areas and particularly when he arrived to conduct the contentious annual valuation. The tithe proctor was the most visible agent of the tithe system. The proctor appeared in early summer to view the crops and estimate the likely yield. Just before the harvest he returned to bargain with the grower. Disputes between tithe proctors and tithe-payers were referred to the owner of the tithe for adjudication. The Tithe composition act (1823) legislated for the extinction of the tithe-proctor.

The imposition of the tithe is considered by historians to be an important catalyst for both agrarian unrest and emigration at various times in the eighteenth century. In 1718 Edmund Kaine, agent on the Barrett Lennard estate, noted that ‘one hundred families had passed through his town in the past week heading for New England’, adding that those departing ‘complain most the hardship of the tithes makes them all go, which is true, for the clergy is unreasonable’ (MIC170/2). In addition to the annual tithe burden farmers had to pay rent county-cess (rates) and hearth money adding further to the financial stress.

Tithe lists are rare before the nineteenth century. One useful source uncovered in PRONI (T542) contains a list of tithe payers in three parishes in Co Tyrone in 1699. The origin of the source is the archive of Archbishop King (now in Trinity College, Dublin) referenced in the Genealogical Office GO MS536. The source is described as ‘Morgan’s account of the parishes of Drumragh, Cappagh and Badoney, Co Tyrone’. It was written at Omagh by the Reverend Robert Morgan on the 22nd June 1699 and addressed to the Rt. Rev William (King), Bishop of Derry.

The tithes lists are limited to three parishes that Morgan knew well having been curate in Cappagh 1686, Drumragh 1691-1693 and Badoney 1694-1699. In his correspondence to his bishop Morgan writes that ‘poverty is so weighty a burden’. The attached names of the ‘masters of families’ may have been an attempt by Morgan to regulate the system of tithe payments in order to increase income and to hold accountable local farmers for the payment that was legally due to the church. Morgan indicates that in June 1699 he was ready to set the tithes ‘unless you otherwise command.’

The correspondence consists of five pages (the first page being a cover sheet).


Omagh June 22nd 1699

My Lord,

In obedience to your command I have sent here enclosed the names of the masters of ffamilies of those parochies wherein I am concerned, generally they are poor, as their particulare returnes will make evident, which how soon they come to my hands your Lo(rdship) may have or a true copy upon desires for relying upon your Lo(rd’s) favour and words, for the continuance of the Sequestration to me as formerly, I have ordered all of them to be viewed and intend to set them tithes, unless you otherwise command, and if so, I shall be in duty obleiged obey.

When last in Derry your Lorship ordered me to cause Dean Walleis to examine the Sequestration I have, after some scruples in reference to Dean Morris power to grant it, wherein he was satisfied of by Mr Henderson and others, he declared it to be legall, but that it would be better to have a new one, which I could not take out, for want or money to pay the fees of the Court and yet continue in the same state, therefore, if your Ldship pleases to confirme it to me by a line for the satisfaction of the people, it will be a singular favour being the only mean I know to relive my present necessity. I designed to have attended you att Derry, as to this affaire and to receive your further instructions but cannot without great strits, poverty is so weighty a burthen: but hoping for your L’ship’s present releiffe and future support, intreating the helpe of your prayers, I am and shall continue My Lord

Your most obedient and humble servant

Robert Morgan


The names of the masters of families in Baddowny parish, 1699 (T542/1)

(P indicates those listed as Presbyterian)

Lough Lachlan

Adam Keddy

Patrick McNicoll

Robert Campbell

Patrick McNichol yo(unger)

William Fuller

John Cambell

Donald Campbell

Arthur Campbell

Donald Wright

Walter Clerk

Archibald Campbell

Duncan McNicholl

Duncan McKelby

ffinlay McKelby

Donald McKelby

Robert McNicoll

John McNicoll

Malcom Mcffarland

Donald Mcffarland

Andrew Hamilton

John Moore

James Hair

William Anderson (P)

Hance Hamilton (P)

Andrew Kerr (P)

Nathaniell Kerr (P)

James Huiston (P)

Daniell Taillore

George Laughlan

Capt Claude Hamilton

Hugh O'Crigan papist

Issobell Moore his wife protestant

There are ten or twelve papists latly come in who's names I know not


The number of communicants at Whitsentide last

Capt Claud Hamilton

Issabell Hamilton his wiffe

Issobel Moor

John Campbell

Duncan McKelby

Patrick McNicoll

Jean McNicoll

John David


Masters of families in Caspy (sic) parish are (1699)

Andrew McCausland

Samuel Anderson

John Keers

John Stewart

William McCausland

Alexander Drummond



Patrick Buchanan

William Donachy

John Borelands

Henry Conningham

Wm Fullerton

Widow Man

James Gillespy

Hugh Rinkin

Wm Moor

Wm Giban

John Mcffarland

Wm Nicoll

Alexr Graha(m)

James Hamilton

John Mcffarland

John Pirien

Andrew Peterson

James Peterson

Robert Harvy

Andrew Craig



Hugh O'Gueen


Several of these have but two kine(?) & some are acher of corne sowen, some none



Masters of families in Drumra parish 1699 (T542/1)

Capt Henry Mervine

Capt Auley Mervine

Wm Moor

John McCausland

Thomas McCausland

Richard Brush

Wm Hamiltone

Wm Mais

Wm Lambert

John Moor

Odbard Griffith

Patrick ffleming

John Mcffarland

James Crawford

Thomas Wilson

Patrick Montgomery

John Stockwell

ffrancis Hoghhead

Andrew Dun



John Baird

Thomas Thomsone

David Younf

Richard Wileram

John Robertsone

Henry Stewart

Alex'r Hunter

William Buchannan

Hugh Kennedy

Wm Rogers

Patrick Rogers

Wm Anderson

Unuphra Denny

Widow Charleton

Gawine Didgeon

Thomas Bell

Wm Thomsone

Widow Young

James Coulter

Georg Baxter

Patrick Barber

Robert Stewart

David Aitcheson

John Jardine

John Jardine you(nger)

Thomas Barber

Wm McGrue

Andrew Glendinning

John White (name stroked out)

John Litle

ffrancis Litle

Andrew Meckledowny

John White

Andrew Glendinning

James Fleming

Robert McCausland

Ninean Dunwoody

Andrew Tod

John Osbrough

Adam Syminiton

John Foster

James Hamilton

John Craige

Wm Boydace

James Coffy

Robert Smith

Thomas Carter

Robert Weld

Robert Kyles

All under the line in the first column are Presbyterians


Those who communicate att Easter last were

Wm Hamiltone

Robert Douglass

Elizabeth Hamilton

Christian Brieve

Helen Stockwell

and upon WhitSunday

Capt Henry Mervine

Wm Hamilton

Elizabeth Mervine

Lucy Mervine &

Elisabeth Hamilton



The 1699 tithes-list is a most useful genealogical source although limited to only three parishes. Containing the names of some 130 heads of households this is effectively a list of strong farmers in these parishes at the end of the seventeenth century and opens pathways for further research into the named individuals through land records such as estate papers and the registry of deeds. It is also a useful source for tracing surnames in these parishes. The absence of Catholic families in the list perhaps reflects the aftermath of the Williamite land redistribution and the imposition of penal laws that precluded Catholics from holding long leases. The lists provide a useful means of identifying protestant heads of households in three contiguous parishes in Co. Tyrone some nineteen years before the first significant wave of Scots-Irish migration to the New England in 1718.