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Details of Thomas Sheridan’s Farm and Farmhouse in Ballyprecas, Co. Wexford

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The assisted emigration certificate for the John Sheridan who emigrated to Australia in September 1841, states that he was a native of Newtownbarry (modern Bunclody), Co. Wexford. It also states that his parents were Thomas and Catherine Sheridan, and that they were farmers.

As a farmer, Thomas must obviously have held land. As it turns out, there is only one Thomas Sheridan holding land in the parish in the 1840s that I can find. That is in the townland of Ballyprecas, located in the civil parish of St. Mary’s, Newtownbarry, and Catholic parish of Bunclody.

https://www.townlands.ie/wexford/scarawalsh/saint-marys-newtownbarry/newtownbarry/ballyprecas/

There are a total of four records showing Thomas Sheridan in Ballyprecas in 1844, 1845 and 1846. Three of these records can be seen by following this link

http://census.nationalarchives.ie/search/vob/results.jsp?surname=sheridan&firstname=&year_from=&year_to=&dd_dd=&dd_mm=&dd_yyyy=&book=&county=&barony=&parish=newtownbarry&townland=&last_name_other_or_lessor=&first_name_other_or_lessor=&search=Search

However, the most significant Valuation Office record, from 1845, is omitted from the results given by the above link by some error, but can be seen at

http://census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/vob/IRE_CENSUS_1821-51_007246834_00356.pdf

This document shows full details for the farmhouse. The valuation was performed on the 9th of September, 1845. The data shown include the dimensions of all the buildings, their material, and condition. Something I have never seen before is that the farm outhouses were built of better quality materials than the farmhouse itself. Also notice that there was a deduction for the use of mud mortar – presumably instead of the usual lime mortar. The final initial valuation was 4-5-10.5 in £–s-d. The use of £-s-d was abandoned 50 years ago this February (that is February, 1971), when the currency was decimalized. The valuation was the expected amount that it would take to rent that piece of land, or building, for a year. This value of the buildings, 4-5-10.5, indicates a substantial farmhouse, that of a prosperous farmer. It is far removed from the dwelling of a poor laborer or artisan. For example, it is more than 17 times the value attributed to the cabin Owen Sheridan held in Tombrackwood.

But that is not all. There is also the key detail that at some point after this valuation was performed, Thomas Sheridan was replaced as the occupier by Mathew Brennan. This is a key detail as Thomas was not present in Ballyprecas when Griffith’s Valuation for the parish was printed in 1853. Usually this would indicate that Thomas died between 1846 and 1853, but emigration or eviction are also possibilities. In any case, this information allows us to say that the farm Mathew Brennan has in Griffiths is the same farm that Thomas Sheridan previously held. Also we should note the name - Brennan – Mathew Sheridan of the Mill in Newtownbarry was married to Mary Ann Brennan.

Griffith’s Valuation is available on Ancestry, but a free Irish site is superior, as it provides access to not just the valuation itself, but also the maps which accompanied the valuation. The site is http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/

Below is a screen capture of the Griffiths Valuation entry for Mathew Brennan in the townland of Ballyprecas. You can see that it has map reference No. 8, and has a total area of 76-1-20 A-R-P, in four lots. The valuation of the house is now a lot less than previously, 2-0-0 £-s-d, due to multiple reductions in price during the period of the Great Famine and afterwards. You can also see that the landlord is indeed a member of the Maxwell family (Lords Farnham), so there is hope that the Farnham estate papers held at the NLI may have relevant information in the rental books contained in the collection

Of more immediate interest to some of you is that fact that the lot or map reference number in Griffiths allows us to determine the precise location of Thomas Sheridan’s farm. Shown next is a screen copy of the map attached to the valuation, from the AskAboutIreland website. You can clearly see his farm, No 8, and the location of the farmhouse on lot 8.A. After the historic map, which dates from maps originally generated in the 1840s, I have included a modern satellite view, centered on the same location. As can be seen, there is modern farmhouse in precisely the same location! The farm is bordered by the river Clody, which forms the boundary between counties Carlow and Wexford at that point, and also gives its name to Bunclody. The Clody also provided the water for the watermill where Michael Sheridan worked in Bunclody.

[Image too large to upload] [Image too large to upload]

One other thing is that one can use streetview feature in Google maps to see the view from the road running by the original Sheridan farm. The following link brings you to directly outside the entrance driveway down to where Thomas Sheridans farmhouse was located, and where a modern farmhouse still stands. The farmhouse itself is out of sight as the land slopes down to the Clody, which is running through a valley. You can rotate the view, and move up and down the road. Note the sheep that can be seen in the fields on what was the Sheridan farm. I noticed a comment somewhere that the John Sheridan who emigrated to Australia was a shepherd.

https://www.google.com/maps/@52.6404497,-6.6683964,3a,75y,306.58h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1siB7KXPd21dwNF4IJ4wz82w!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo2.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DiB7KXPd21dwNF4IJ4wz82w%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D320.72656%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i16384!8i8192

Finally, I should point out that all of this assumes that the Thomas Sheridan in the 1844-1846 Valuation Office records is the same Thomas mentioned in the 1841 assisted emigration certificate for John Sheridan. It is possible that he may not be.

About the author: Wexflyer
From Wexford

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Comments

@peepso_user_3214(normansheridan)
Amazing what you can find Wexflyer. I believe the Thomas Sheridan that you describe emigrated to the USA, Pennsylvania.
@peepso_user_170(Jo-Sheridan)
Looks like home 😁