The archives of the Grand Jury are one of the oldest local authority archival collections. Originating in the 17th century, the main function of the Grand Jury was the administration of justice. In the following centuries they took on more functions such as the provision of roads and public buildings, and the running and maintaining of dispensaries, court, fever hospitals, county infirmary, and the county gaol. They also collected a tax called the county cess. The Valuation Acts of 1826 and 1852 made the valuation more equitable and from 1833 ratepayers were represented at the baronial presentment sessions.
The Grand Jury was made up of prominent local landowners who were appointed by the sheriff and they met twice yearly at the spring and summer assizes for the purpose of passing presentments of proposed and approved works which were effectively financed by the cess payer. The post of the county surveyor was first created in the 19th century and he also reported to the assizes. However, corrupt practices amongst the grand juries were widespread and at the end of the 19th century their powers and duties were transferred to the newly democratically elected county councils, and to a lesser extent to rural district councils under the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898.
Archival History ↴
The archives of the Grand Jury were held by Louth County Council and then transferred to Louth County Library from where they were transferred to Louth County Archives Service in 2001. The Grand Jury's series of query books (GJ/005/) are a useful research resource for genealogists as there is a wealth of names contained within these books as contracts such as the repair of roads and buildings were awarded to local contractors and workmen. The books are also of interest to local historians as they cover the bulk of the nineteenth century (1815, 1823 – 1899) and detail work carried out under the famine relief schemes.
There are also some items regarding the Grand Jury contained within the Filgate Family papers, see PP00001/003/ as the Filgates were members of the Grand Jury.
Some records acquired from Doctor Harold O'Sullivan (GJ/005/0A, GJ/006); and Louth County Archaeological & Historical Society (GJ/007).
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Grand Jury ↴
The collection consists of a series of statutes at large passed in the parliaments held in Ireland from 1310-1798, and public general statutes passed in the “parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” or United Parliament thereafter until 1847 (GJ/001/); a series of ‘The Justice of the Peace for Ireland with a Digest of the Common and Statute Law’ by Leonard MacNally, 1812 (GJ/002/); a series of ‘A Digested Abridgement, and Comparative View of the Statute Law of England and Ireland to the year 1811, inclusive’ by Joseph Gabett, 1812 (GJ/003/); a minute book of the Board of Superintendence of Louth County Gaol, 30 Mar 1837 – 07 Aug 1853 (GJ/004); a series of query books of spring & summer assizes, 1815, 1823 – 1899 (GJ/005/); a photocopy of printed report from the Select Committee on Grand Jury Presentments in Ireland by the House of Commons, 1815 (GJ/006); and a Grand Jury panel for spring assizes, 1899 (GJ/007).
The query book of spring and summer assizes includes a list of contracts for works such as the repair and maintenance of roads, laying pipes, fixing drains, building bridges, and creating new roads and the payments made for same. They also include lists of salaries given to various officers such as those responsible for the gaol, the infirmary, the courthouse, and a contribution towards the Richmond District Lunatic Asylum; lists of rents such as those for the petty sessions houses; lists of coroners’ orders, court orders; list of sub-constables; printing and stationary and law costs; county surveyor’s reports; and estimates of expenditure.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
Further accruals are not expected
The collection is arranged by type into several series or items: statutes (GJ/001/); ‘The Justice of the Peace for Ireland’ publication (GJ/002/); ‘A Digested Abridgement, and Comparative View of the Statute Law of England and Ireland to the year 1811’ (GJ/003/); a minute book of Louth County Gaol (GJ/004); a series of query books of spring & summer assizes (GJ/005/); printed report from the Select Committee on Grand Jury Presentments in Ireland (GJ/006); and a Grand Jury panel for spring assizes (GJ/007). Within each series, items are arranged chronologically.
Conditions of Access & Use
Open Access, by appointment
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Many items may be copied. Bound volumes cannot be photocopied. Copying can be discussed further with the County Archivist.
1310–1899 (predominant 1786–1899)
112 items consisting largely of bound volumes
Material Language Script
Characteristics Tech Req
Generally fair-good condition.
Descriptive list can be found on on-line catalogue available at http://www.louthcoco.ie
Archive Web Link →
Louth County Archives Service
Some digitised documents may occasionally be found on http://www.louthcoco.ie
IE LHA PP00001/003/
IE LHA PP00001/
O’Sullivan, Harold, A History of Local Government in Louth: from earliest times to the present time (IPA, Dublin 2000)
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.