Statistical Survey of Meath, 1802


Cat No.:   IET0065:

Published in 1802, the Statistical Survey of the County of Meath is aptly subtitled by its author, Robert Thompson of Oatland: 'with observations of the means of improvement, drawn up for the consideration and under the direction of the Dublin Society'

The publication of the Statistical Survey of the County Meath traces its origins to the 1740s, but is was not until the inauguration of the Dublin Society - later the Royal Dublin Society - that plans to publish a statistical survey for each county came to fruition. By 1832 The Society had published survey for twenty-three of the thirty-two counties, although ultimately seven counties would not be surveyed.

The Statistical Survey for the County Meath is one of the earliest surveys published by the Society and like its companion surveys aimed primarily to determine the 'actual state, capabilities and defects of agriculture, manufactures and rural economy'. The Statistical Surveys were conducted under the central direction of the Dublin Society and its successor, the result of which is a uniform quality and presentation of material on pre-Famine Ireland.

Although primarily concerned with the state of agriculture and the rural economy as a whole, the importance of the Statistical Surveys transcend this narrow aim. In recording statistical data on the state and conduct of agriculture, most authors detailed the myriad aspects of Irish rural society that formed part of the rural economy and in these respects the Statistical Survey of the County of Meath is no exception.

Containing more than four hundred pages, the Meath survey is divided into seventeen chapters introduced by a chapter on thee geographical and climatic conditions prevalent in each of Meath's baronies. In common with the other published surveys, five chapters are given over to the nature of agricultural production in Meath. These chapters range in scope from the types of livestock - cattle to bees and rabbits - and the nature of pasture, arable, tillage and bog land as well as that to the husbandry of wooded plantations. The remaining chapters record the other aspects of the society, economy and legislature that together could be described as the rural economy of county Meath in 1802 and it is perhaps these aspects that are especially interesting.

Robert Thompson details and describes Meath's housing stock ranging from the landed estates to labourer's cottages; records the size of farms, 'character of farmers', nature of rents, tenure, tithes and the general state of education in the county. He also records in some considerable detail the different forms of agricultural labour present in Meath and provides a template of the accounts that each labouring family might be expected to produce. This shows how an agricultural labourer earned his livelihood, be it in wages, food, fuel, land, etc., and as such the Survey as a whole details some of the minutia of Meath's pre-Famine rural society. Compared to most other counties, the list of the means for improving Meath's agricultural economy was a short one. The author identified the chief hurdle to improvement as the lack of capital to small farmers and the drain on the county's financial wealth by the many absentee landlords owning land in the count.

The Statistical Survey of the County of Meath is presented here in CDRom format and as such is full searchable and will make an invaluable addition to those interested in the pre-Famine conditions of rural county Meath. 

No. of CDs is:  1 ;   Format is:  PDF ;   Searchable?:  YES;

FastFind:  No;  ISBN No.:   unavailable;