Catholic qualification rolls, 1700–1845
Throughout the eighteenth century, restrictions enacted by the Penal Laws were relaxed for those Catholics who took the Oath of Allegiance to the King and renounced their religion for that of the established Church of Ireland. In the majority of cases, this was not a sincere renunciation of the Catholic religion as it was the only legal means whereby a Catholic could obtain basic civil rights.
In 1774, an Act was passed to permit the King’s subjects, of any religion, to take an oath at the local assizes (courts) “to testify to their loyalty and allegiance to him, to promote peace and industry in the kingdom”.
These names were then registered in the Catholic Qualification Rolls according to surname, first name, address, and date of qualification. Occupation is sometimes also supplied. The rolls cover the period from 1700–1845, with most entries after 1800 dealing with naturalised citizens. Over 50,000 people are listed.
The Rolls can be searched on our Genealogy website by name, date, county, residence and diocese. The county, residence and diocese entries are not consistent; sometimes all three appear; sometimes only one.