Wednesday 2 November 2011

Reports from Commissioners on Municipal Corporations in Ireland, 1833, Borough of Lisburne.



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The Borough of Lisburne, or Lisnegarvie, is situate in the parish of Lisburne, or Blaris, and barony of Upper Massareene, and county of Antrim.

1. The ancient limits of this borough are very nearly co-extensive with those established by the Boundary Act, William IV., as its boundaries in respect to the election of Members to serve in Parliament. A small portion of the county of Down has been included by that Act within the limits.

2. By patent dated the 3rd January, 1627, granted to the Viscount Conwey and Kilultagh, King Charles I. created the manor of Kilultagh, within which manor the borough is situate, and gave power to the patentee to hold Courts Leet, &c.

A Charter dated 27th October, 1661, granted the right of returning two Members to the Parliament of Ireland to "the inhabitants and their successors."

3. A municipality not having been created by this charter, the borough has only existed for Parliamentary purposes. All the inhabitants originally, and in later times the great body of them, subject to the restrictions from time to time prevailing, first under the popery laws and afterwards under the several statutes George III. regulating potwalloping boroughs, in this country, have exercised the right of voting at elections for the return of Members to serve in Parliament. Since the Act of Union the Borough has returned one Member to the Imperial Parliament.

The constituency is now composed of £5 (Irish currency) inhabitant householders under Act George III., and £10 (British currency) householders under the Reform Act, William IV.

The number of voters registered up to December, 1834, was stated to us to be 91.

The charter directs the sheriff of Antrim to send his precept to the seneschal of the manor of Kilultagh.

The seneschal has always acted accordingly as the returning officer of the borough.

He is nominated by the Marquis of Hertford, the proprietor of the manor.

4. The seneschal holds a Manor Court within the borough, on Wednesdays, from three weeks to three weeks. His jurisdiction in his Court of Record, according to the course of the common law proceeding by attachment of goods, extends to £20 of the former currency of Ireland.

The form of affidavit of debt used in this court states that the cause of action arose and that the defendant resides within the manor and jurisdiction of the court, as required by the 36 George III. c. 39.

Records of all proceedings in the court are filed, and must be signed by attorneys of the superior courts. Costs are taxed by the seneschal, and recovered under his warrant. The officers of the court are a marshal and five bailiffs, who have fees on the proceedings.

The costs on attachment of goods amount to 19s 1d.

The costs to final execution,

£ s d
When defendant does not appear 2 16 10
When def. appears and gives bail 3 6 3
The usual Civil Bill jurisdiction given to Manor Courts by the statutes Geo. III. and Geo. IV. is also exercised. The costs upon a decree amount to   0 7 8

Court Leet.

5. The seneschal holds a Court Leet twice in every year, at periods subsequent to the winter and the summer assizes respectively, and a leet grand jury is sworn at each.

6. These grand juries exercise the jurisdiction of presenting nuisances, and appointing applotters, constables, and appraisers. They also present money to be levied on the manor.

The proceedings of the winter leet are usually confined to matters connected with the town; those of the summer leet are for the whole manor.

The manor is divided into seventeen constablewicks, and a petty constable is appointed by the leet grand jury for each. The leet grand jury is composed of landholders, who are summoned by the respective constables from each constablewick.

7. In presenting money, the grand jury either direct that it shall be levied "off the manor" at large, or confine it to some particular denomination, or denominations, as "the town of Lisburne."

The objects of their Presentments are various, as for salaries, for the repair of bye-roads, and for other works.

The amounts presented are moderate, the works useful, and no complaint exists of any mismanagement of the funds; but the legality of the proceedings for the levying of money for the repair of roads, for salaries, etc, seems very questionable.

An Act of 1705 appears to have sanctioned the presentments of the seneschal's court; but the levying of money by the presentments of the grand juries was by that early statute confined within strict limits, and, under the subsequent Acts upon the subject, the power appears to have been vested exclusively in the grand juries at the assises; we refer to the Acts George III. and the several statutes cited in and repealed by those Acts, as well as to the more modern enactments of William IV. and the statutes therein referred to.

An Act of 1719 enabled the seneschal and jury of the leet, within manors or liberties, to appoint watch-houses, and the districts which should contribute to the building, repairing, and keeping of them, and keeping the watch therein, and to provide watch-bills, staves, and halberts for arming the watch, and necessary fire and candles; to be paid for by the manors or liberties; and the Act directed that the money raised should be paid to the persons by such presentment appointed overseers of the work, to be laid out for such uses only, and to be accounted for, on oath, at the next Court Leet.

We have found the following enactments relative to the constables, appraisers, and applotters appointed by leet juries:--

An Act of 1749 recognises the appointment of petty constables at leets:

The statute relative to pawnbrokers, Geo. III., recognises appraisers as theretofore regularly elected and sworn in certain districts, or jurisdictions, and having established usage and custom, which are not to be thereby altered or abridged, save as to the appraisement and sale of forfeited pledges pursuant to that Act. The duty of the appraisers in the manor of Kilultagh is said to be the valuing of damage done by cattle trespassing on land; an Act of 1797 provided for the appointment of arbitrators for this purpose: that Act was superseded by a similar Act of 1800, and, in that, a clause saving the rights of manors was introduced; but now, under an Act of 1826 amending the former, the appointment of appraisers for the purpose in each parish is vested in the magistrate at quarter whether the appraisers of the manor courts, are now the legal appraisers in this respect.

The applotters appointed by the leet jury are said to applot the proportion of the county cess on the manor, but that appeal's not in conformity with the Act. George III.

The amount of the levy of the summer leet of 1833 on the manor was £166 6s 10d.

8. The salaries presented by the leet jury for these Officers are as follows:--

£ s d
Treasurer to grand jury 20 0 0
Secretary to ditto 10 0 0
Town crier 4 0 0
Ditto to purchase of coat 1 5 0
Keeping streets clear of beggars 10 0 0
Keeping streets clear of pigs 3 0 0
Ringing market bell 2 0 0
Winding church clock of town 3 0 0
Keeping town clocks in repair 8 8 0
Winding market-house clock 3 0 0
Taking care of the measures 2 2 0
Taking care of chain at quay 1 1 0
Taking care of the butter market 5 0 5
To purchase coat 1 5 0
Taking care of pump 0 10 0
Taking care of court-house 2 0 0
Taking care of market-house 2 0 0
Taking care of meat market 4 0 0
For summoning the leet jury 1 0 0

The several constables of the manor are paid by a poundage on collecting the cess, both for the county and the manor.

9. The neighbouring magistrates hold Petty Sessions in the town on every Tuesday.

The seneschal is not a justice of the peace, and the want of a local magistrate is much felt. Many offences of a minor character are allowed to remain unpunished owing to the inconvenience attending the prosecution, arising from the distance, at which the nearest magistrates reside. Some of the inhabitants are even willing to pay an annual stipend to a resident magistrate.

10. There is a marshalsea or manor gaol in the borough, under the custody of the marshal of the Manor Court. Since the passing of an Act George IV. it has been disused as a place of confinement for the person, and is now made use of as a place of custody for goods attached until bailed.

11. The municipal affairs of the borough are principally managed by the leet grand jury and their officers, as already mentioned.

12. There is no local police belonging peculiarly to the town; the duty is performed by the county constabulary. The provisions of the Acts of Parliament for lighting, watching &c., have not been introduced here.


13. Several charitable bequests have been made for the use of the poor of the town, which, are placed under the control of the rector and curates of the parish of Blaris, in which the town is situate; they are chiefly disbursed by a voluntary association called the "Lisburne Philanthropic Society."

John Leigh, who died in 1720, bequeathed a sum of £200, which has long been appropriated for the benefit of the poor of the town; but the terms of his will are not now known. This money has been lent out upon the bond of Nicholas Delacherois Crommelin, dated 10th December, 1817, passed to the Rev. Snowden Cupples, rector of the parish, payable with interest at 5 per cent. Judgment was entered on the bond in Easter Term, 1825, in the Court of King's Bench.

James, Bishop of Down and Connor, by his will dated 16th July, 1774, bequeathed to the use of the poor of the parish of the Lisburne £100, to be paid to the churchwardens.

Thomas Morris, by his will, bequeathed to the poor of the parish of Lisburne the sum of £100, to be, by the rector and churchwardens, lent out for legal interest, upon good security; and the annual interest to be distributed on the Sunday before Christmas day in every year, and to be paid to only 12 of the poorest housekeepers to be found in the parish.

The principal of these two sums was invested in new 4 per cent. Government stock, on the 15th May, 1826, in the name of S. Cupples, for the Lisburne poor.

John Moore Johnston gave, by his will (12th March, 1804), a bequest, under which a sum of £83 6s 8d principal, and £5 3s 4d for interest then due, for the poor of the parish of Lisburne, was invested in 5 per cent. Government stock in the names of S. Cupples and Rowley Hall. This will contained a further bequest of £10 for the parish.

General Heron, by his will, 12th March, 1807, bequeathed to the Rev. S. Cupples, rector of Lisburne, and his successors, rectors of the said parish, £100, in trust for the poor of the parish, which he desired to be lent out at interest, on good security, and the interest to be distributed annually among the poor of the said parish in such manner as the said S. C. and his successors should think proper. On the 24th January, 1820, a sum of £90 was invested in Government 6 per cent. stock, in the names of S. Cupples and R. Hall. S. Cupples holds Edward Heron's promissory note for £25, with 6 per cent, interest, dated the 1st April, 1820.

The Rev. John Carleton, by his will, 8th June, 1818, bequeathed to the Lord Bishop of Down and Connor, and to the rector, curate, and churchwardens of the parish of Lisburne, all for the time being, and their successors, £2,000, in trust, to be lent at interest; the interest to be distributed annually, by the said trustees or their order, upon St. Thomas's day in every year, amongst the poor householders of the parish of Lisburne who are not common beggars.

This legacy was disposed of as follows:-- Sums amounting to £1,734 16s were expended in the purchase of certain chief rents, amounting annually to £90s 4s. These chief rents were conveyed, by Hugh Owens and others, trustees to the will of Adam Hunter, to William Trail and Rowley Hall, by deed bearing date the 27th April, 1820, an abstract of which is contained in the papers sent with this Report. The balance of the legacy was invested in Government stock.

There are also other funds invested in the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for the use of the poor here, viz.:-- 1. Shanks's charity, producing £41 11s 2d yearly, but subject to deduction of £1 0s 9d commission. 2. Delacherois' bequest, producing £16 3s 11d yearly, but subject to a like deduction of 8s 1d. 3. Archdeacon Trail's bequest of £50, producing £1 15s yearly. There is also a donation of £50 from Dr. Stewart, but it had not been invested at the time of our inquiry.

The ministers and churchwardens exercise a discretion in appropriating the interest and produce of the several funds for the use of the poor, both in the town and in the country parts of the parish. They grant a portion annually to the Philanthropic Society, and themselves distribute the remainder. They keep books, which set forth their receipts and the distribution made, and their books are open to public inspection.

14. The Philanthropic Society was established about 20 years ago, for the relief of the poor inhabitants. They publish their accounts annually. For five years ending 1832 the average annual income was £443

Charitable Society.

15. In the year 1780 the inhabitants of the town and parish of Lisburne, having by voluntary contribution raised a sum of money for the support of their poor, and being desirous that a body corporate should be formed for carrying their humane design into execution under proper regulations, the Earl of Hertford, the Bishop of Down and Connor, the seneschal of the town, its representatives in Parliament, the rector, curate, and churchwardens of the parish, and the minister of the congregation of Protestant Dissenters in the town, all for the time being, and four persons named in the Act, and all contributors of three guineas a year to the charity, were incorporated under the name of "The President and Assistants of the Lisburne Charitable Society," with similar objects and under similar provisions as the charitable corporation started in Belfast in 1773, and of the class of corporations of the poor intended to have been established throughout Ireland by the Act of 1772, George III.

There is some trace of this corporation having been in operation in a short time after its creation, but its meetings have for many years been suspended, and the inhabitants now view it as obsolete; at the same time it is considered extremely desirable to have the provisions of the statute brought into operation.

Constituted as the corporation is, we see no difficulty in calling it into activity.

16. King Charles I., by letters patent bearing date 3rd January, 1627, granted to Henry Viscount Conway and Kilultagh to hold two fairs at Lisnegarvey, one on the 10th of July, and the other upon the 24th of September, and for two days after each, rent free; and also to have a weekly market on each Tuesday; together with all toll, customs, &c., to such fairs and markets belonging.

The schedule of the tolls and customs now in use consists of the following items:--

For every horse, mare, &c., when sold    4
For every cow, heifer, &c., when sold    4
For every sheep, lamb, goat, or pig    1

The printed schedule states these tolls as "claimed by the seneschal of the manors of Killultagh and Derrivolgie, on the fair days being held in said town and borough."

Tolls and Customs.

17. Tolls and customs continue to be levied at two annual fairs in the name of the lord of the manor, the Marquis of Hertford, although their collection cannot be resorted to as an object of revenue, the profit derived from them not exceeding 40s in the year. The collection is attended with much difficulty, and gives occasion to very objectionable practices. For some time half the usual toll only was demanded, but it was taken upon cattle as they were brought into the fair; this having been found illegal, the entire toll is now demanded after sale; but then, if a difference arises as to whether there has or has not been a sale, it is determined by bringing the parties before the seneschal, who swears them as to the fact, and he not only assumes this power, but also the right of ordering the cattle to be impounded until the custom be paid.

18. The lord of the manor appoints the weighmaster; his fees are quite at variance with the provisions of the statutes upon the subject; he does not, however, enforce the compulsory provisions of the Act, leaving all persons the option of weighing at his scales or at any other. The amount of the charges is much complained of, but no resistance has occurred in any instance.

His charges are as follows:--

Each sack, if 2 cwt. or over    2
"  ", if 1 cwt. or under    1
Hay, by the cart    2
Straw, ditto    2
Butter, by the crock    1
Potatoes, each sack    1

The weighmaster stated that he had obtained a weighing machine for hay and straw, and considered that it entitled him to charge beyond the legal fee. No charge is made for "standing," or exposing goods for sale in the market; and when the articles are not weighed no charge is made.

The market days are Tuesdays and Saturdays. A linen market has been established, at which no charge of any kind is made upon the goods exposed for sale.

19. The population of Lisburne, according to the enumeration of 1821, was 4,684; in 1831, 5,218; but this was exclusive of the part of the Parliamentary borough lying in the county of Down; the whole, by the last census, was returned as containing 5,745 inhabitants.

The particulars are stated as follows:—
Males 2,425
Females 2,791
Total       5,218
Families employed in agriculture 129
"  "  in trade, manuf., or hdcrft. 575
"  "  not in these two classes 431
Total       1,135
Houses inhabited 804
"  "  uninhabited 49
"  "  building 10
Total       863

The addition from the county of Down, added by the Boundary Act, is estimated to contain about 40 homes.

(Next Week: Curry's Glen.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 2 November 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917 and into 1918. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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