Saturday, 10 February 2018

James Mahon, a £10 freeholder

As discussed last week, James Mahon, potentially my GGGG-grandfather,  participated at a Special Vestry in Malahide, Co. Dublin, in 1823. The vestry sought to introduce tithes, a form of taxation payable to the (Protestant) Church of Ireland. I'm hoping to find out more about this James Mahon, but surviving records are thin on the ground.

The tithe records for the neighbouring parish of Kinsealy show James Mahon had over ten acres of land in the townland of Drynam (aka Drinan), paying one pound, seventeen shillings and eleven pence in tithes. Dynam shared a border with the townland of Yellow Walls, in Malahide, where my Mahon family lived. But was it the same James Mahon, or another sharing his name?

Tithes, 1824, Townland of Drynam, County of Dublin

This question was answered by a newspaper article, published in 1830, which confirmed the James Mahon, with land in Drynam, lived in Yellow Walls. The article contained a list of men registering their freehold interest in properties valued at more than £10. 

Excerpt: Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, 26 June 1830, p. 1

Why did they register their properties? - you might ask yourself. I did.

Following Catholic Emancipation in 1829, Irish Catholics were granted the right to sit in Parliament. However, a more restrictive county franchise was immediately introduced, whereby voters in subsequent elections were required to have a freehold interest in property worth at least £10. This was a five-fold increase on the previous 40 shilling (£2) franchise, and five times the requirement still applying in the rest of the United Kingdom. Few Irish Catholics met the new voting qualification, thus ensuring no real change to the status quo. Still, the freehold interest of those who did meet the requirements had to be registered, and a list of the registered freeholders published.[1] 

So, James Mahon made the newspaper when he registered his £10 holding in Drynam. John Gaffney, one of James Mahon’s colleagues at the Special Vestry, also registered his property in Malahide. This might explain why they both, being Catholic, were deemed eligible to participate in the Special Vestry in the first place, which settles last week's query over their participation there. 

But, as usual in genealogy research, when one question is answered, several more always take its place- 

Until now, everything I've found indicated the Mahons of Yellow Walls were tenants at will, meaning they were subject to eviction at any time, without notice. Now, we see James Mahon owned this land outright. What a surprise! But, it’s puzzling. As far as I was aware, the Drynam estate belonged to the Cruise (de Cruys) family for many generations, i.e. from around the time of the Norman invasion in the twelfth century.  How on earth did James Mahon get his hands on some of it?

And, if he did at some point own the land, what happened to it? There's no indication in the probate records of it being passed down to the next generation. By 1845, James Mahon, the same man, or maybe a descendant, can be seen leasing land in Drynam, at £4 an acre, from Robert Cruise, Esq.

House Book, 22 Aug 1845, Townland of Drinan, Barony of Coolock

It's getting curiouser and curiouser! Except, there's nowhere to go for more answers.

[1] 10 George IV. Cap 8, An Act to amend certain Acts of the Parliament of Ireland, relative to the election of members..., 1829, in William Finnelly, The Law and Practice of Elections in England, Scotland, and Ireland… (London,1830), accessed Google Books.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Interesting! But, don't give up! Hopefully, the answer is out there somewhere...

  2. Thanks Dana, I believe it is, working on the that now.

  3. Shady Brits! Hope you find the answer soon.


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