Grand Jury Presentments (1807-1900)



from 'Irish Grand Jury Presentments' by Dr. James Ryan

(used with the author's permission - see full article at The In-Depth Genealogist

Grand Juries were the forerunners of the modern County Councils. They were a panel of major landowners in each county formed to make decisions on legal and other matters. They were originally responsible only for the justice system, but this was gradually expanded to commissioning of local public works, i.e. building of roads and bridges, and maintenance of public buildings (infirmaries, courthouses, jails etc). It funded these works by means of a county tax on land, known as a cess or ‘rates’. Catholics could not legally serve on grand juries until 1793, and even after this date the jury lists were still predominantly protestant. They met in spring and summer, just after the regular Assizes (local court) sessions. In these sessions, they would hear ‘presentments’, i.e. proposals for grants for the construction or maintenance of roads and bridges etc.

The family history relevance is that the proposals include the names of proposed contractors. On occasion, they may also specify the work to be done by reference to the property of individuals. For example, ‘to build a bridge over the river Lingane at Maurice Shea’s house’ or ‘to repair .. the mail coach road.. between Timothy Duggan’s ditch and Thomas Butler’s gate, all in the townland of Ballydrihid’ (Both from Limerick GJP 1831)

The records state the names of the lead contractors, and a short specification of the work. Some examples from the Limerick Grand Jury of 1831 are;

KINGSTON, Earl; MONTGOMERY, Thomas; O'CALLAGHAN, Daniel; DONOHOE, John: to build a bridge of one arch over the river Barabee, on the road from Hospital to Clogheen, between the townlands of Skeheenarinky & Barabee

LISMORE, Lord; TAYLOR, Edwin; GRUBB, Samuel; MURPHY, Martin: to build a bridge between Michael KENNELLY'S house and his land at Kilballyboy - road from Clogheen to Dungarvan

So, who were these people? The lead persons are local ‘gentlemen’ who may also have been Grand Jurors. The others are likely to be tradesmen with specialist skills in bridge-building.

 

Spring 1807 

Spring 1808  

Spring 1810   Summer 1810  
       
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 Spring 1814 

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 Summer 1825    Spring 1826      Summer 1826  
       
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 Spring 1832    Summer 1832    Spring 1834    Summer 1834  
       
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 Spring 1842   Summer 1842    Spring 1843    Summer 1843   
       
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 Spring 1848    Summer 1848    Spring 1849    Summer 1849  
       
 Spring 1850    Summer 1850    Spring 1851  Summer 1851
       
 Spring 1852  Summer 1852    Spring 1853   Summer 1853
       
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 Spring 1860    Summer 1860  Spring 1861   Summer 1861   
       
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 Spring 1867    Summer 1867   Spring 1868  Summer 1868  
       
 Spring 1869  Summer 1869   Spring 1870     Summer 1870 
       
 Spring 1871   Summer 1871     Spring 1872  Summer 1872  
       
 Spring 1873  Summer 1873  Spring 1874  Summer 1874
       
 Schedule 1875  Spring 1875  Summer 1875   Spring 1876 
       
 Summer 1876  Spring 1877  Summer 1877  Spring 1878
       
 Summer 1878    Spring 1879  Summer 1879  Spring 1880
       
 Summer 1880  Spring 1881  Summer 1881  Spring 1882
       
 Summer 1882  Spring 1883  Summer 1883  Spring 1884
       
 Summer 1884  Spring 1885  Summer 1885  Spring 1886
       
 Summer 1886  Spring 1887  Summer 1887  Spring 1888
       
 Summer 1888  Spring 1889  Summer 1889  Spring 1890
       
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 Summer 1892  Spring 1893  Summer 1893  Spring 1894
       
 Summer 1894  Spring 1895  Summer 1895  Spring 1896
       
 Summer 1896  Spring 1897   Assizes 1899 (a)  Assizes 1899 (b)
       
Assizes 1900       

Last update:18/04/2017

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