The Minute Book of the Coroporation of Ardee
A.D. 1661 onwards
published in The Journal of the Co. Louth Archaeological & Historical Society’
Vol. III. No. 4, pp. 357-62, Nov. 1915
Joseph T. Dolan.
The following is a transcript of the oldest remaining records of Ardee. Ardee was evidently a place of importance and presumably of population in the centuries of Irish independence. Its name is used by the annalists to identify a battle site – three miles distant – Clonkeen, where Muirceartach fell in A.D. 942 at the hands of the Danes. And there must have been a religious community here in charge of the Shrine of St. Patrick, which Malachy of Meath
carried off to his kingdom: in 985.
The fact that it was the scene of two decisive battles by which Ulster resisted the efforts of the King of Munster and the King of Connacht successively to establish his suzerainty over it as Ard Ri during the struggles of the Ri co fressabra also seems to suggest that it was a frontier stronghold.
Ardee was made the centre of his feudal lordship by Roger de Pipard – the first Norman knight who received this territory from John of England, when he come as Lord of Ireland on his father’s appointment in 1185.
It is very possible that a Corporation on the English model was set up almost immediately for his colony, since we read of the privilege of a Corporation being granted to the burgesses of Kells by De Lacy before A.D. 1200. At any rate it must have been established within the next century. The earliest reference to it is in the year 1303, when an Inquisition was held with regard to a grant of land made by the Commonalty of Ardee to the Carmelite Monastery
of the town.-(see Louth Archaeological Journal, 1909).
But though there are enrolments of the many royal charters which the town received during the following three centuries, no documents of the Corporation itself have survived older than the Minute Book of 1661. .
In the Report of the Municipal Corporation Commission 1835, there is a lengthy account of the Commissioners’ enquiry into the existence of records of Ardee Corporation. Mr. William Parkinson Ruxton, of Ardee, for many years Portrieve and at that time Recorder of the Corporation, who had been one of the Members for the Borough in the Irish Parliament, stated (Appendix, Ardee Corporation Report, 1835, p. 654, note) “King James II’s party took possession of some of the Corporation documents, and they never were returned.”
This may account for the loss of any earlier records than this Minute Book. The occasion referred to would be that of the occupation of Ardee by the Irish army during the autumn and winter of 1689-90 – James himself having spent part of October and November in the town before returning to Dublin for the winter. It is remarkable that the Minutes of the Corporation of the old inhabitants restored by James II do not remain. There is a lacuna between the years 1687 and September, 1690, when the Cromwellian party regained power. The first volume of the Minutes ends with 20th September, 1687, and a couple of blank pages follow. The second volume begins with 27th September, 1690.
No reference is made to the interval or to any interruption of continuity in the proceedings of the Corporation during it.
Mr. Ruxton also told the Commission that all, the papers of the Corporation, had been ordered into the Court of King’s Bench in a lawsuit between an ancestor of his and Attorney-General Tisdall over an election for Portrieve in 1768, in which the two families were contending for the control of the Borough, and that some of the documents had been left there and were quite illegible when he examined them in 1793-4.
There was also evidence given of an attempt on the part of the Ruxton family influence in the Corporation to make some of the records illegible by storing them in a damp place. This had reference to the minutes containing entries of admission of freemen, and the purpose was to disfranchise the adherents of the opposing party at an election by destroying the evidence of their enrolment as freemen and therefore of their right to vote.
The Corporation documents that remain were recovered from the Court by the Town Clerk after this Tisdall-Ruxton lawsuit some time before 1790 as Mr. Ruxton told, and they continued in the hands of the successive Town Clerks-three generations of the Barlow family-till the dissolution of the Corporation under the Act of Parliament of 1841.
At the 1833 Commission the Town Clerk and the Corporation refused to submit them to the enquiry evidently, as their examination showed, from fear of investigation into the disposal of the Corporation lands, which the predominant families held on very favourable terms;
The new authority, the Town. Commissioners, who replaced the Corporation under the 1841 Act, got possession of the records from the old Town Clerk after trial in the High Court. Henceforth they were left in the custody of the Solicitor to the Commissioners, until Mr. Edward Caraher, the late Solicitor, sent them bad to Ardee, and the Town Commissioners entrusted them to me for safe keeping
They consist of four Minute Books, Liber I, 1661-1687 ; Liber II, 1690-1724 Liber III, 1724-1768 ; Liber IV, 1769-1841 ; two Borough Court Books, 1746-1771 and 1771-1774; the original Parchment Charter of Queen Anne, 1713; the Pater of George III, 1819; copies in Latin and English of the Charter of James II; number of leases of lands and house property from 1723 onwards, a quantity ( miscellaneous papers and briefs for lawsuits (all of the eighteenth century), and few maps, including one interesting map of the town and the Corporation lands, 1677
This first Minute Book is 131/2 inches long by 9 inches wide. It has merely soft white parchment cover which wraps around it. Many of the leaves are bad frayed, in some cases parts have worn or fallen off them, and sentences can on be completed by help of a complete and easily read copy made apparently in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, which is the property of the Ruxton family
The penmanship of the original Minute Book is very clear and the spelling uniform. There is much diversity in the use of capitals. I have tried to reproduce faithfully the spelling and the placing of capital letters in this transcript, but have probably failed at times to observe the archaisms.
JOSEPH T. DOLAN.
[There are four leaves (eight pages) of oaths-five written – three blank- before the first page the Minutes. They are very frayed and only partly legible and as they occur in a later book I not attempt to transcribe them here. The first page of the Minutes is marked 3 but apparently pages of oaths were 1 and 2, and there does not seem to be any page of Minutes missing. The figures in parenthesis ( ) are the pages of the original. ]
(3) 28 Sep., 1661-1
At which day and time William Armitage and [Wm. Pepper] havinge not served their full tyme as portreeves, are by General Consent of Burgesses and Freemen to serve port reeves for this Burough for one whole year more from the feast of St. Michaell the Archangel next God permit them life.
At which day and tyme Gilbert Jones was admitted a free member of this Corporn. and Sworne by the portreeves.
John Allen, then admitted a free member paying 15s. fine. Sworn the 9th day of October, 1661.
Robert Beaton then admitted upon the like fine.
George ffenton then also admitted paying five shillings fine.
James Wooley then also admitted paying 15s. fine.
Att a gen’all assembly, held at Atherdee, for the Burough of Atherdee, the third day of October, 1661, Before William Armitage and William Pepper, Esqrs., Portreeves of the said Burough.
At which day and tyme Edwd. Nichollson was admitted a free member of this Corporacon paying six shillings and eight pence fine, and was then sworne.
George ffenton being formerly chosen —– paid five shillings fine.
(4) then admitted and sworne and ……….fees , being formerly admitted free was then………payinge fifteene shill. fine and smale fees.
Robt. Bradshoe, Tayler, was then admitted and sworne paying fivei shillings
fine and small fees. . . ;’
James Wooley was then alsoe sworne upon his former fine and fees,
James Wooley and Joseph Sanderqon sworne Sergts. att. Mace for the next
enseuing year. . . I
Thomas Smiles, Clothier, admitted and sworne the same day paying six shill.
eight pence fine, and small fees. .
Samuel Banks, Jonathan Ball, Thomas Crosbey and John Tyres for the Comons appoynted a Comittee for settling a table of fees and the Portreeves to bee added
to the sayd Comittee. . . .
Capn. John Ruxton, Capn John Chambers, John Dowdall chosen for the Bench and . . . of them one of the Burgesses to be one and. A returne (?) to be made on
Tuesday next being Quarter Sessions day.
Robt. Beaton, Thomas Green, Henry Rogers, Geo. Cosslet added to the former Comittee and to consider of a way. to raise money for contingent charges and
paymt. of Sallerys and that the said comittee or Major part of Comittee doe agree upon to bee binding to the whole Corporn. to meet at the Castle by One of
the Clock to ……..
……………. . [One line illegible.]
(5) Gilbert Jones chosen Toun Clerk.
. . . for to consider how the money…………
Ordered that no Burgesse or Freeman of this ——– any House or Houses to any forriner without first— Present Portr., so that due consideration may be taken . . . they or any of them Sett such House or Houses of twenty shillings sterling to be Levyed toties quoties of the person or persons offendinge contrary to the true intent of this Act.
At a Genll Assembly held the 16th day of January, 1661, Before Armitage and Willm. Pepper, Portrs.
Then agreed by Genll. Consent of Assembly that all and every Burgesse that shall make default of appearance at any. Genll. Assembly shall forfeite to the use of the Corpor. the sume of five shill, and the Freeman and Comoner the sume of two shill and six pence toties quoties as they shall make default.
Ordered that the Quarter Assemblys for the future be held the daye followinge and every Burgesse and Freeman to take notice thereof, – that is to say, upon the 16th day of [April) the 16th Day of July, the 16th day of October and 16th day of January yearly, except it be on a Sunday.
Ordered that Alder. John Dowuall, Mr. Samuel Banks, Robt. Lee and Heny Rogers bee and are hereby desired to view and preambulate the Fences belonginge to this Town and parish, and to make a return to the Corportn. of the Insufflciencies thereof and who ought to repaire the same, and the Portreeves or any of them and is hereby Impowered to Impose Fines upon the offenders as he or they shall see cause. .
(6) by genll. consent of this assembly……son and persons whoe keepe any swyne being above a quarter ould doe……. and……within one we eke after the date hereof and them. And if any person or persons shall be found ….. . shall pay six pence sterl. for every swyne to the use of……. Corpor. besides the trespasse (?)
Ordered by Genll. Consent of this assembly that noe brother do disclose the secrets, of this Corpm. upon payne of disffranchismt.
Ordered by Genl. Consent of this Assembly that Proclamation be made that all Inmates depart this Corpor. by May Day next and that all and every such person and persons that shall be found entertainers of Innemates after that day shall pay for and to the use of this Corpor. the sume of ten shill. by the month.
Ordered and agreed upon by Genll, Consent of this present Assembly and by the authority thereof that the Portr. for the tyme being or one of them, John Ruxton, Esqr., John Fowke, Esqr., John Chambers, Esqr., Brian Heron, John Thomas, Richd. Cooley, Samuel Banks. Jonathan Ball, Robt. Beaton, Thomas Green,
Thomas Crosbey and Henry Rogers be and are hereby nominated and chosen to be a Comittee in the nature of a Common Council who are hereby impowered to meete
together as often as they shall see cause in the intervalls of assembly att such tymes and att such convenient place as they shall think fit within this town and there to consider of such things which mayor shall tend to the honor, worship, benefitt, and wellfare of this Corporation in the govnemt thereof, and what they the said Comittee or any seaven of them that is to say 3 Burgesses 3 Comoners and one of the Portreeves for the tyme being to bee always one, shall thinke fit to benefit of this Corpn.
adjudged to bee as good and…………..the same were done in full and fore used conce made or ordered wise nothwithstandinge.
Bartholamewe Doyle then sworne one of the Ordered and agreed by genll. consent of this Assembly that no person and persons residenters within this Town, not being members of this Corporation shall pay Censershipp of the Port reeves for the time being or Common Council.
Agreed att a Comoll councill held the 27th Day of Febr., 1661, that the sum of forty pounds should bee borrowed by the Portrceves untill such tyme as it can, bee conveniently appl the sd. sum to bee repayd within 12 months . . . Burgesses and Freemen of the Corporation if any other way more convenient cannot bee found to pay them before that time.
It. the sayd moneys if ray sed to bee towards the deffrayinge of sevall charges part whereof doth apper (?) before us and the remainder to bee, forthwith expended. A particular of the sayd charges foll.- for seate for the portr. and Burgesses foure pounds, for the towne seale one pounde seventeene shill. and six pence, for Charges at ye assizes, June 1661, three pounds ten shill., ffor charges at the assizes, March 1661, three pounds sixteene shill., for the County Gaole nine shill nine pence, ffor the prisoners thirteene shill., for Councells fees against Corporall Baker one pounde, for moneys replotted by order of the judge of assize foure pounds eight shill. eight pence, ffor July Assizes, 1662, three pounds eight shill., for A fine at the assyzes one shill., for two Maces twelve pounds, for clerks sallery for 12 months ending . .
(8) At a Genll.Assembly, held the 9th day of September; 1662, Before Willm. Armitage and William Pepper, Esqrs. Portreeves
Upon which day and tyme John Fowkes and Brian Heron, Esqr., were …….Portreeves for this next ensueinge yeare to begin from the day of St. Michaell the ,
Archangell next-God Permit them life.
John Relliough was admitted a free member of this Corporation paying 15s. fine and Small Fees & Sworn 29th September, 1662. ,,I •
John Flower then admitted free paying six shillings eight pence fine and Small
Fees. Sworn 29th Sepr., 1662.
At an assembly heald the 29th day of September, 1662, before Wm. Armitage and Wm. Pepper, Esqr., Portreeve.
At which day and time John Fowkes and Brian Heron, ,Esqrs., were sworn Portreeves for the next ensueing year according to antient custom.
Jas Wooley and Wm. Tumor then sworne Sergts.at Mace. At which day and tyme George Coshlett, Esqr.,upon his humble request was disfranchyed, he the said
Coshlett disclaimng any privilledge or benefitt, which as a Burgesse or Freeman of the said corporation might any way belong to him his former oath by him
(9) At an Assembly held ……John ffowkes … the Towne and Borough.
At which day and tyme Thomas Burton, Esqr.,. was appointed Recorder and then ordered that the sum of ten pounds be forthwith applotted and collected for this
year’s Sallery from Michelmas Day last past.
Order’d that no person or persons whatsoever for the future shall be admitted a free member of this Corporation without the consent of the Comittee or common
councell the portreeves or one of them to be at the said Coman councell.
An assembly heald the 17th clay of June, 1663, Before Brian Heron, Portreeve. At which day and tyme Willm Armitage, Esqr., was ellected Deputy portreeve in
the absence of John Fowkes, Esqr. .
The same day Bartholamewe Doyle was ellected Deputy Clarke of the Borough durante lite in the absence of Gilbert Jones, Esqr.
An Assembly held the 3rd Day of Septr., 1663, before John Fowks, Brian Reran,
Esqr., Portreeves. .
John Pepper was the same day chosen free member and Burgess of this Corporation.
Samuel Banks and Jonathan Ball the same day sworn Burgesses.
The same day Henry Towniley and. Jonathan Balle were ellected Portreeves for this next ensueinge yeare to begin from the feast of St. Michaell the Archangell next if God permit them life,
The same day Willm. Armitage, Samuel Banks, Thomas Crosby und John Tyres, were appointed to cal…… . .a comittee and appoint collectors for the sayd yeare.
(10). An Assembly held the 29th day of Sepr., 1663, before John Fowks and Brian Heron, Portreeves.
[Memorand] that the day and yeare aforesaid Henry Towniley and Jonathan Ball Esqrs., by and with the assent and consent of the Portreeves and said Burgesses
and freemen of the sayd Borough ther Assembled did receive their Solemn Oath of Portreev’s of the said Borough to serve accordingly in the same for the space
of one whole yeare next ensueinge who accordingly assum’d the seate and staffe of Office.
Memorand that the said day and yeare Arthur Ward upon petitn. by him preferred in this Behalf was by the Assent and Consent of the Portreeves last with the Burgesses and Freemen of the said Burough ellected Register of the sd. Burough and pursuant to the said ellection by like Grant and consent in full Assembly received Solemnly the Oaths of Freeman and Regr. in the said Burough.
Order’d the day and yeare aforesaid that Bartholamewe Doyle, Gent., receive in Compensation of his service and Trouble by him sustained in discharging the office of Regr in this said Burough such proportion of the sallery granted to the Regr. for this last precedent year as shall bee assertained upon Wednesday come seavennight next being the 17th of October next ensueinge by the said Portreeves agreeable to the tyme wherein hee hath serv’d as Register within this Borough.
Wm. Turner and James Wooley swornSergt. at Mace.
Registre . . .? propositori pred adiurnavit present Congrigation sine die.
(There is a second portion which I do not have a copy of.)