Thurles 1656 Featured On ‘Down Survey’ Website

The Down Survey of Ireland was taken between the years 1656-1658, and was the first ever detailed land survey, on a national scale, taken anywhere in the world. This survey sought to measure all the land of Ireland to be forfeited by Irish Catholic in order to facilitate its redistribution to Merchant Adventurers and English soldiers.

The survey was called the “Down Survey” by Petty, because the results were set down in maps; ‘admeasurement down,’ was the term used and is referred to by that name in Petty’s own last Will and Testament.

Down Survey

The Barony of Eligurty ( Eliogurty ) As Described By William Petty’s Survey

We accompt to be a third part meadow ground and arable lands but much spent by tillage, another part there of woody, heathy pasture, Turbarries, pastureable bogg and mountaine and the other third part to be deep unprofitable curraghs or shrubby bogg, much of the said unprofitable lands being mixed with meadows, arable and pasture lands. In this halfe baronye are seaven castles and three stone houses all wanting repaire, besides the castles and stone houses which within Thurles are returned by themselves. There are likewise the castle and stumpts hereafter mentioned out of all repaire. In this halfe barony runneth the river of Shewer and severall other rivoletts and brookes. The said river of Shewer springeth out of the mountaine called Baneduffe on the East side, and from thence runneth southwards nyne or ten myles to Noddstowne in the Barony of Middlethird. There are upon this river two stone bridges vizt: The one in Thurles and the other in Hollycrosse; on the North side of the said mountaine of Baneduff springeth the river Feorr and runneth from thence foure or five miles eastwards of this barony until it meets the Barony of Upper Ossory in the County of Kilkenny.

This Down Survey Project has now brought together for the first time in over 300 years, all surviving maps, same being digitised and made available as a truly valuable public on-line computer resource and lovers of history can access this new website by simply clicking HERE

The armies of the English Commonwealth, commanded then by Oliver Cromwell, had emerged victorious and began immediately to undertake an ambitious project of social engineering, underpinned by a massive transfer of this landownership from Irish Catholics to English Protestants. To allow this to happen, the land had to be accurately surveyed and mapped, a task overseen by the surgeon-general of the English army, William Petty, (1623-1687,).

Copies of these maps have survived in dozens of libraries and archives throughout Ireland, Britain as well as in the National Library of France.  This is thanks partially to several of the manuscript and other works in the collection of Mr. James Weale, latter who died in 1838, being purchased through the enlightened and liberal intervention of Sir Robert Peel, latter who entered politics in 1809, at the young age of 21, as MP for the Irish Rotten Pocket Borough of Cashel, here in County Tipperary and visited by Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011.

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet ( 5th February 1788 – 2nd July 1850 ) was a British Conservative statesman, who later went on to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from ( 10th December 1834 to 8th April 1835 ) and also from ( 30th August 1841 to 29th June 1846 ).

While he was Home Secretary, Robert Peel helped create the modern concept of our modern day police force, leading to officers being known as “Bobbies” (In England) and “Peelers” (In Ireland). This was also the same Prime Minister Robert Peel who was to appoint a brilliant young man of unimpeachable integrity, named Charles Edward Trevelyan, to oversee relief operations during the Great Famine period in Ireland. The latter would become the single most important British administrator during the Great Famine years, here in Ireland.


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