Westmeath Register of Trees

From 1698 to 1791, there were seventeen acts of parliament encouraging tree planting to attempt to reverse the process of de-forestation. Beginning in 1765, a tenant with a lease of at least twelve years could own the trees s/he planted. On the expiry of the lease, the trees were valued by a jury, and had to be offered for sale to the landlord at that price. If s/he refused to buy them, the tenant could cut and sell the trees.

Tenants swore affidavits before a justice of the peace that they had planted a certain number of trees. The details were registered. Virtually all of the affidavits and many of the registers were lodged in the Public Record Office of Ireland and lost in the fire of 1922. Fifteen registers are known to have survived: twelve in the National Archives, one (for Derry) in the PRONI, the Meath register in Meath County Library, and now, the Westmeath register.

Westmeath register of trees, gives species and number of trees planted by named tenants in townlands around the county.[1] To view a pdf copy of the original register please click here. We have also compiled an index to this register, which you can download by clicking here.

It is noteworthy that there can be a variation in the spelling of townlands within the actual register as well as a variation with how they are spelled today.   There are also townlands mentioned that do not appear to be recorded elsewhere. Transcription errors may have occurred due to legibility.

The ten most recorded trees are :

  1. Larch (446,713)
  2. Scotch Fir (319,854)
  3. Ash (171,190)
  4. Beech (109,161)
  5. Spruce Fir (78,359)
  6. Spruce (72,489)
  7. Oak (50,707)
  8. Sycamore (31,505)
  9. Larch Deal (24,988)
  10. Alder (24,913)

The least recorded tree species is Juniper, with only 1 listed in the county, and that was in the townland of Kilinure (Kilkenny West)

[1] Morris, Martin, Archivist Catalogue, Small Collections, p. 110.

This article was published on: 15th August, 2022
Filed under: Archives, Library blog
Tags: , , , , , , ,