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Unfortunately things were not quite as simple as that - each form of land-division had its own particular purpose, and came into existence fairly independently of other forms of land-division. In the 1830s the different forms of land-division were brought together into a unified system; but the system was not fully hierarchical. For example, 16 Parishes (0.7%) included Townlands in more than one Province; and 122 Parishes (5%) included Townlands in more than one County. 3 Baronies (0.9%) included Townlands in more than one Province; and 13 Baronies (4%) included Townlands in more than one County.
Only in the following sense was there anything like a hierarchy: the Townland (as defined in the 1830s) was the smallest rural subdivision of most other administrative land-divisions recognised in the 19th century; not only of a Parish, Barony, County or Province, but also of an Electoral Division (ED), Dispensary District (DD), District Electoral Division (DED), Poor Law Union (PLU), Registrar's District (RD) or Superintendent Registrar's District (SRD).
Townlands had existed long before their boundaries were defined in the 19th century. Some estate maps of earlier centuries show Townlands, though deeds and other text documents (maddeningly) usually refrain from defining the location and extent of any denomination. It seems likely that in earlier ages Townlands were not necessarily co-terminous with Parishes, judging by the way Parish boundaries often seem to divide similarly-named Townlands.
Researchers need to be aware of the location and extent of Townlands, so that efficient strategies can be formulated for searching in documents and on site.