Many parishes in Ireland have no church registers before 1800 and, therefore, it may not be possible to link with any degree of certainty family connections back through the 17th and 18th centuries.
There are a number of sources referred to as census substitutes, that can be searched for the 18th century and earlier which might list a name and address of an ancestor, for example:
- Flax Growers’ Lists 1796 (list of farmers who grew flax, the raw material of the linen industry)
- Religious Census 1766
- Protestant Householders Lists 1740
- Hearth Money Rolls 1663 (tax raised for every hearth or fireplace in a house)
These sources (where they exist) list heads of household only. As no information is provided on family members within each household or relationships between householders it is not possible to confirm the nature of linkages between named people in these sources. However, these sources are very useful in confirming the presence of a family name in a particular area and in providing some insight into the frequency and distribution of surnames.