|Consecutive years of rate books|
are bound together into larger volumes.
The principal behind valuation records has always been to assess the value of land and buildings for the purpose of taxation. Each year any alteration in a property is recorded. Revisions documented include such things as the names of occupiers (most often tenants) and immediate lessors (landlord, middleman, or owner), differences in the quality of the property, increases in acreage leased (for farm land), as well as any modification in overall assessed value.
|The key for rate book revisions: on the left 1864-1872; on the right 1871-1884.|
Notice that the difference in ink colours is not always so distinct.
Kilsallaghan, County Dublin, Rate Books.
Ideally you will already know the townland in the county in which the person for whom you are searching resided; however, if you have a good amount of time and a great deal of patience you can also browse through the valuation books.
|The ink colour key for the revisions dating from 1893-1902.|
Kilsallaghan, County Dublin, Rate Books.
Members of the Fitzpatrick family lived in Warblestown House before it was occupied by Kettle family members, but their respective histories with the house are deeply connected. Splendidly, to this day, the house is still owned and occupied by Kettle descendants, an unbroken chain of provenance.
If you are familiar with Griffith's Valuation, and travel back in time to the valuation records of May 1847 — available online — you will find one James Mahon as the tenant of Warblestown, renting the house, offices and land, comprising 37 acres, zero roods, and 27 perches1, from his landlord Colonel Burton, and paying a total of £39 and 14 shillings rent per annum. Although I do not know what became of James Mahon, he left Warblestown house sometime between 1847 and 1861.
The earliest valuation record I was able to find for my Fitzpatrick ancestors indicates that in 1861 my 2nd great-grandfather Joseph Fitzpatrick held the tenancy of the house and land around it. Joseph and his wife Mary Kettle married 14 September 1857, and I believe Warblestown may have been the only home in which they ever lived together, so he may have held the tenancy earlier; however, there is no extant record to prove it.
During one terrible Autumn in 1864, their eldest daughter Mary died on 27 November aged only five years. Only eight days later, on 5 December, their 4th born son Nicholas, twin of my great-grandfather Thomas, also died. Nicholas was barely twenty-one months old. Mary and Nicholas both died of 'Cynanche Trachealis', what we now know as the croup.2
Tragedy stuck the Fitzpatrick family again, on 23 April 1871, the day of second born daughter Alice's 10th birthday, Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick died at Warblestown House. Mary was only 39 years old, and her youngest child Teresa was just two months shy of her 1st birthday.3 On that day, as the eldest surviving daughter, Alice stepped into her mother's role, caring for her younger siblings.
After the death of his wife Mary, it appears that Joseph and his children did their best to persevere. The family stayed on at Warblestown. In fact, on 29 September 1872, the lease on the house and property was renewed for a term of 32 years.
In 1876, only five years after their mother's death, the Fitzpatrick children suffered yet another horrific loss. On the night of 22 December, just three days before Christmas, their father Joseph Fitzpatrick froze to death on a road in north County Dublin. He was 47 years old.
There was a coroner’s inquest because of the manner of Joseph's death, an inquest which offered the following conclusion: 'Certified cause of death: Exposure to cold whilst under the influence of liquor some hours.' It was judged that because he was inebriated, Joseph decided to leave his horse and carriage outside a public house in Swords and walk home to Warblestown house. The following day Joseph's body was found by the side of a road in a state of undress commonly associated with a person suffering hypothermia.4
Joseph Fitzpatrick died intestate — that is, without leaving a will. Mary’s brother Patrick J. Kettle applied for letters of administration over the estate. In 1877, Patrick was granted administration over the matters of the estate; the grant cited his having taken guardianship of the Fitzpatrick children, the youngest of whom was then only 3 years of age.5
|Advertisement that appeared in|
The Freeman's Journal,
announcing the 1877 auction of the
Fitzpatrick property and effects.
It appears as though the auction may not have gone forward, because the death of their father was not the end of the legal relationship the Fitzpatrick children had with the property.
Despite the fact that his father left no will, court records find that in 1879, 1892, 1894 and 1895, John Fitzpatrick — eldest son of Joseph Fitzpatrick and Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick — was legally recognized as ‘the person rated or liable to be rated of being concerned in the management of the hereditament’.6 Use of the word ‘hereditament’ signals that the house was part of an inheritance.
The 'hereditament' as it applies to John Fitzpatrick, was an ‘incorporeal hereditament’, that is, an inheritance of the right to lease the property. Although the tenancy was initially offered for sale, it appears John may have exercised his right to it, rather than have it sold. Thus the Fitzpatrick children likely stayed on at Warblestown House after the death of their father. Also, marriage registration records show that Alice Fitzpatrick, the second born daughter of Joseph Fitzpatrick and Mary Kettle was married from the house in August of 1886.7
Although first born son John Fitzpatrick was still legally connected to the property until at least 1895, the Irish Land Commission Return of Judicial Rents of November and December of 1888 (published 1889; see entry #108 in the image below) revealed an odd finding. It shows William F. Burton as the owner of Warblestown House, and has Andrew J. Kettle named as the tenant rather than John Fitzpatrick. This likely means A.J. Kettle was paying the rent on the tenancy, not that he was living there.
|Irish Land Commission Return of Judicial Rents of November and December 1888.|
Click on image to view larger version.
The court records of 1879, 1892, 1894 and 1895 that I mentioned earlier are principally concerned with John Fitzpatrick not taking care of business with respect to Warblestown. John had failed to pay the taxes on the property, and wasn’t properly maintaining the property, leaving him liable in the Petty Sessions Court. It appears Andrew J. Kettle may have stepped in because John was unable to successfully manage the farm lands in order to support his siblings and pay the rent on the property.
John Fitzpatrick died 10 June 1899 at the age of only 41. Unlike his father before him, John left a will. The will was probated in 1902, with Andrew J. Kettle named as the sole beneficiary.8
The Warblestown property again emerged in the property records in 1901 when it is shown that the property was bought by Laurence J. Kettle (eldest son of Andrew J. Kettle). The Return of Advances under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, Section 33, 1901-1902 shows that Laurence J. Kettle bought the property — 30 acres, 3 roods, 38 perches — on 18 April 1901 for £980. This seems curious, since other evidence shows that in 1901, at 23 years of age, Laurence was out of Ireland on an apprenticeship (he was an electrical engineer). Laurence did not return to live in Dublin until 1906, lodging — at 5 shillings a week — in Clonmore House on Naul Road, another house owned by his father.
As I mentioned, it seems somewhat curious that, given his circumstances, Laurence would have bought the house, but according to the aforementioned return apparently he did buy it.
Considering the fact that A.J. Kettle was the lone beneficiary of John Fitzpatrick’s will, and in light of the 1888 Land Commission return, I surmised that it was A.J. Kettle who had bought the house. When I searched in the revision books I found that A.J. Kettle was named as the owner of the house, as illustrated below. Laurence Kettle is not named in the revision books.
|1899: John Fitzpatrick named as occupier; Reps. of Joseph Fitzpatrick is crossed out.|
1901: Andrew J. Kettle named as occupier.
1907: Andrew J. Kettle is named as owner, thus the phrase 'In fee',
having bought the property under the Land Acts.
The 1911 census shows the continued ownership of Warblestown house by members of the Kettle family, and as I mentioned at the outset of this piece, the house is still owned and occupied by Kettle descendants. Combining the history of the Fitzpatrick family with that of the Kettle family, records show that Warblestown House has been in our family for more than 150 years.
1. Irish land was measured in units of statute acres, roods and perches, and they relate to one another as follows: one statute acre measures 4840 square yards and is equivalent to 4 roods, thus one rood measures 1210 square yards (4840 ÷ 4 = 1210). One rood is equivalent to 40 perches, so one perch measures 30 square yards (1210 ÷ 40 = 30). With land divided in this manner it was easier to rent/sell small parcels of land. See www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation.
2. Per civil registration records of death: Mary Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Fitzpatrick, GRO, Dublin.
3. Per civil registration record of death Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick, GRO, Dublin.
4. Per civil registration record of death: Joseph Fitzpatrick, GRO, Dublin.
5. Joseph Fitzpatrick: Calendar of Wills and Administrations, National Archives of Ireland, 1877. Online access.
6. Irish Petty Sessions Court Records, via FindMyPast.ie.
7. Per civil registration record of marriage: Alice Fitzpatrick Ward, GRO, Dublin.
8. John Fitzpatrick: Calendar of Wills and Administrations, National Archives of Ireland, 1899. Online access. As well, other legal records tie Andrew J. Kettle and John Fitzpatrick. Irish Court Petty Sessions records cite both men as surety (i.e. ‘a person who takes responsibility for another person’s performance of an undertaking’) for repairs to the property of Patrick J. Kettle, in the two years prior to Patrick’s death in 1894.
Resources for further research:
Unfortunately, the valuation revision books for the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland are not available online; however for those searching for family members in counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone, the valuation revision books for the years between 1864 and 1933, inclusive, are available for free searching on the PRONI website. The drawback here is that you cannot search by family name, but instead must search by townland or county and parish.