In order to read the Schedules of Clare Presentments detailed below it is necessary to be a member
The present system of County Councils in Ireland came into operation in 1899, prior to that the county administration was carried out by the Grand Jury who were responsible for construction and maintenance of the county roads and buildings under the 'presentment' system. This system required that an application for such public works, be made first to the magistrate and cess (rate) payers assembled at the presentment sessions. All approved presentments were placed before the succeeding assizes as a "query" and if the work or a given portion of it had been carried out in the meantime and certified by the county surveyor, it was marked "allowed" by the foreman of the grand jury and payment made by the county treasurer. Those unapproved were marked "undischarged query" in the grand warrant for that assizes and succeeding assizes until such time as the work was certified as completed.
The system became very complicated, as can be gleaned from Arthur Young's description of its operation in 1769:
Any person wishing to make or mend a road has it measured by two persons, who swear to the measurements before a justice of the peace. It is described as leading from one market town to another . . . , that it will be a public good, and that it will require such a sum, per perch of 21 feet, to make or repair the same; a certificate to this purpose (of which printed forms are sold) with the blanks filled up, is signed by the measurer and also by two persons called overseers, one of whom is usually the person applying for the road; the other, the labourer he intends to employ as an overseer of the work, which overseer swears also before the justice the truth of the valuation.
[The above information is adapted from Irish Stone Bridges, O'Keefe & Simmington, 1991]
The 1807 presentments were drawn to my attention by Declan Barron in the Rootsweb internet genealogy forum. It appears to have been digitised by Google (see the final page of the document) from Oxford Library, where it was filed as part of the Accounts of the East India Tea Company.
It is of particular importance because it is a pre-famine source for information on placenames, families and infrastructure and only a small number of such records survived the fire in the Four Courts in 1922,
The original text was set using the letter “f” in place of “s” as was the practise of the time, but this seriously impairs the searchability of the document.
Under the Imperial measurement system a perch is equal to about 16.5 feet and 320 perches = 1 mile.
This document has been edited and prepared for the internet by the present author.
Donal De Barra,