Tenison Groves, record agent

PRONI T808 The Groves' Mss

PRONI has 27 boxes of material around 20,000 copies of genealogical working papers and abstracts of miscellaneous documents, c.1650-1920, compiled and copied by Tenison Groves, a professional genealogist and antiquarian who worked at the Public Record Office of Ireland in Dublin from around 1900 until after the Four Courts Fire of 1922. The genealogical material has been arranged roughly by surname in small volumes, some of which relate to one name only, some to a group of related families, others to several surnames starting with the same letter. The arrangement of the material is variable, alphabetization has not been adhered to, not all variant spellings have been noted, place names are difficult to trace. The great importance of this archive is that it contains extracts from documents which were destroyed in the Irish Civil War in 1922. It is particularly rich in will abstracts which appear in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland index to pre-1858 wills and extracts from legal proceedings, principally during the 17th and 18th centuries, which contain genealogical material and relate mainly to the gentry and merchant families, though there is a surprising amount relating to minor 19th century families including many extracts from the censuses of 1821-51. A further collection of Tenison Groves' papers is in the National Archives, Dublin, and there is considerable overlap between the two collections.

Who was Tenison Groves?

Tenison Groves (c.1863-1938) was the son of Rev Dr Henry Charles Grove (1822-1903) by his wife Kate Little (daughter of Tenison Little of Cork) and grandson of the Rev Edward Kelly Groves (entered TCD 2 Jan 1790 aged 13 years son of James Groves, Gentleman, born Dublin). The Rev Edward Kelly Groves born c.1776 was a member of the Irish Record Commission and co-compiler of Lewis's Topographical Dictionary.

Tenison Groves was born in the parish of Mullavilly in Co Armagh where his father was curate and baptised 13 January 1863. 

In the 1911 census he was residing with his sisters Eleanor and Kate Groves in Mount Merrion Avenue, Dublin. He gave his age as 47 years and occupation Civil Engineer & Research Agent. 


Groves worked initially in Derry as an assistant surveyor but afterwards took up documentary research. He was a prodigious worker and researcher in the Record Office in Dublin transcribing many valuable sources before their destruction in 1922. The Groves collection is the best single source in PRONI for abstracts of pre-1858 wills. In addition to wills, the Groves collection includes muster rolls, militia lists, protestant householders' survey, 1766 religious returns, gravestone inscriptions, numerous abstracts from the Registry of Deeds, and extracts from court cases. 

In later years he devoted much of his time to the ancient manuscript collection in Armagh Library. Tenison Groves died 21st October 1938 at Kildarton Rectory, Armagh. Groves deserves recognition for his outstanding contribution to Irish genealogy and Ireland's archival history.


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