Land Registry Collection

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleLand Registry Collection
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/LR1
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1870-1935
Extent Mediumc 50,000 items


Creator(s): Land Registry, Land Acts administrator

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Land Purchase Acts, as they are known, acknowledged the grievances of tenants on landed estates which had erupted during the Land War of 1879-1881. The government interpreted this wave of agrarian discontent, organised by the Land League, as a direct challenge to the power of the landlords. The Land Purchase Acts which followed introduced the idea of owner-occupancy and provided tenants with the financial means required to purchase their holdings. Prior to the Lands Acts, which effectively dismantled the old system of landlordism, tenants in Ireland were not considered to have any proprietorial rights over the land they had, in many cases, been farming for generations. The 1841 Census had recorded that two-thirds of families in Ireland (66.1%) were chiefly employed in agriculture. As tenants on landed estates, however, they were considered to be simply paying the landlord rent for the use of the soil over a specified period. The landlord could, at will, eject the tenant and not be liable to reimburse him for any improvements he may have made to the property. William Gladstone s Land Act of 1870 went some way towards protecting the tenantry. In future, the tenant was to receive compensation for all improvements he had made to the land should he be evicted. The 1870 Act also acknowledged the principle that the state should assist tenants to purchase their holdings with the aid of public funds. The tenant could obtain a loan from the state which he would repay in annual instalments over a fixed number of years. It became clear, however, during the 1870s that not many Irish tenants would be able to take advantage of this: the late 1870s saw an economic depression which reduced farm incomes and increased the incidence of evictions for the non-repayment of rent. From 1879-1882, over 11,000 evictions took place. This period is also known as the Land War, a wave of agrarian agitation and violence which was one of the most important events in nineteenth century Ireland. The principal outcome of the Land War was the Land Law (Ireland) Act of 1881, the second step in the direction of tenant purchase of land. It established the tenants right to the three Fs fixity of tenure, a fair rent and freedom of sale. The 1881 Act also established the Irish Land Commission. Not only did the commission have the power to determine a fair rent for land occupied by the tenant, it also was empowered to advance to tenant s three-quarters of the money required for the purchase of their holding. This loan was to be repaid at a rate of 5% over 35 years. However, it was not until the passing of the Land Purchase Act of 1903, otherwise known as the Wyndham Act (George Wyndham being Chief Secretary in Ireland at the time), that the sale of land by landlords began to develop on a significant scale. This Act established a body known as the Estates Commissioners within the Land Commission to administer land purchase in Ireland. When the Northern Ireland Government was established in 1921, the Land Purchase Commission (NI) was set up to administer land purchase. The Land Act (NI), 1925, vested all un-purchased agricultural or pastoral tenanted land in the new Commission. It continued until 1935 when its residuary functions were referred to the Ministry of Finance.
  • Archival History ↴

    Official Transfer
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Land Registry, Land Acts administrator ↴

    The Land Registry Collection, which contains an estimated 50,000 items, is one of the largest held in PRONI. The Papers relate to the changes in the ownership and occupancy of land in Ireland brought about by several Land Acts which were passed from the Landlord and Tennant (Ireland) Act, 1870, to the Northern Ireland Act, 1925, and the Northern Ireland Land Purchase (Winding Up) Act, 1935. The papers created by the administration of these Acts form the Land Registry archive.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    Approximately one-fifth of the papers in this achieve were created by the pre-1903 Land Acts. These documents usually have an LJ identification mark on them. About one-third, which bears the letters EC , were created under the 1903-1909 Land Acts. The rest, about 50% of the entire collection, have an NI record number, indicating that they were created under the 1925 Act.

    Classification Scheme

    1. The first part of the reference number of each document is LR/1. The number of the Land Commission box in which it has been stored is also part of the reference number given by PRONI. Thus LR/1/1 is the first box in the collection, LR/1/2 the second box and so on.

    2. Where a box contains the papers of more than one estate, a further sub-division is necessary: LR/1/1/1 is, therefore, the first estate in box 1, LR/1/1/2 the second estate in box 1. LR/1/2 the first estate in box 2, etc.

    3. The next part of the reference will be A , B or C . A relates to administrative documents. This category contains material such as correspondence and memoranda which accumulated in the course of the sale of property in question. The classification scheme will indicate that each type of administrative record maybe identified by a number. For example, Inspectors reports are always numbered A7, estate maps as A9. The most varied section is A19, containing items of a miscellaneous nature. B contains title deeds. C relates to testamentary papers.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI guidelines.
Conditions Governing ReproductionThe collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI's rules and regulations.
Creation Dates1870-1935
Extent Mediumc 50,000 items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A descriptive list is available to search online at: Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteNatalie Milne
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997. UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT)
Date of Descriptions41699