Among the weightier volumes in our library are editions of Burke's Peerage and Burke's Landed Gentry, not to mention Burke's Irish Family Records, Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, and so on. Running to hundreds if not 1,000+ pages, these books detail the genealogies of aristocratic and gentry families in Britain and Ireland.

The founder of this series of books was John Burke (1786–1848) whose family owned an estate at Parsonstown (now Birr), Co. Offaly. He moved to London and in 1826 produced the first volume in his series. Numerous editions followed and companion volumes were added. You can find out more about him and his son, Sir John Bernard Burke, through the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Burkes gentry 2 LR

Although not many of us will have ancestors appearing in these volumes, nonetheless the nobility impinged on the lives of our forebears in many ways. This is especially true for people with ancestors who were tenant farmers on an estate owned by an aristocratic or gentry family.

A perusal of the various editions of Burke's may help us identify the owner of the estate at a moment in time. This can be useful in helping to provide context for the lives of our ancestors and in answering specific questions on the significance of a particular document from a landed estate collection.