Limerick Chamber of Commerce, 1807-1946

Repository: Limerick City Archives

Identity Statement

TitleLimerick Chamber of Commerce, 1807-1946
Archive ReferenceIE LA P1
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1807-1946
Extent Medium60 items


Creator(s): Limerick Chamber of Commerce

  • Administrative History ↴

    Merchants in Limerick first began to hold regular meetings in the last years of the eighteenth century. In 1805 Limerick Merchants constructed the Commercial Buildings at Rutland Street, and constituted themselves as the Commercial Building Company. On 7 May 1807 the Chamber of Commerce was officially founded when at a meeting of merchants, it was resolved that ‘it appears to this meeting that it would be serviceable to the trade of this city to establish a Committee of Merchants or a Chamber of Commerce' (P1/1). On 2nd June 1815, the Chamber was incorporated by a Royal Charter by King George III, under the title of ‘the Chamber of Commerce of Limerick' and the Chamber moved to its present premises at 96 O'Connell Street, in 1833. In order to become a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a merchant had to be nominated by an existing member and elected by receiving a vote from a minimum of fifteen other members. Once elected a merchant had to agree to pay the Chamber an annual import and export rate on all goods imported and exported through Limerick (P1/34-39). In order to qualify to vote at general meetings of the Chamber, a member had to have contributed a minimum of 40 shillings per annum. Hence the Chamber kept records of imports and exports of goods through Limerick Harbour and ballot books showing the election of members (P1/30-31). Members of the Chamber met annually to elect a management committee. The 1815 Charter required that this management committee be made up of nine directors, at least three of which, had not served as directors the previous year. Five directors constituted a quorum and to qualify as a director, a merchant had to earn a minimum of £1,500 per annum. The Directors were responsible for management of funds, disposal of property, and ordinary affairs of the Chamber. Also the directors regularly established sub-committees to investigate specific concerns. The sub-committees generally consisted of President, the Vice-President and secretary of the Chamber, and members with technical knowledge of the business at hand. Additionally, general meetings of all members could be called if twelve members submitted a signed request to the president of the Chamber, outlining the matter that they wanted to discuss. The function of the Chamber, from its inception was the ‘promotion, regulation and protection of trade and all its branches' in Limerick City. To achieve this aim, the Chamber engaged in a wide range of activities at local and national level. These activities include the drawing up of regulations relating to industries such as butter, corn, and leather, and the employing of various inspectors to examine the quality of goods before approving same for purchase by its members. From 1808 to 1822, the Chamber also leased the right to tolls on potatoes and corn from Limerick Corporation for a rent of £1,500 a year. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Chamber played a key role in the development of Limerick Harbour and also assumed control over pilotage in the River Shannon and made payments to individuals who salvaged vessels and marked hazards in the Estuary. The Chamber of Commerce also sought to influence national affairs relating to commerce. It submitted petitions to Parliament and engaged in correspondence with politicians on subjects such as railways, postal rates, and improvement of local infrastructure, foreign tariffs, and development of export trade. Limerick Chamber of Commerce collection will be of interest to those researching the economic development of Limerick City, the improvement of infrastructure such as railways, post routes, and roads in Ireland, the impact of foreign tariffs and laws passed in Britain on Ireland, and the role of individual merchants, specific companies and industries, and the Chamber itself in local, national, and international affairs.
  • Archival History ↴

    Limerick Chamber of Commerce
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Limerick Chamber of Commerce ↴

    Minute Books (1807-1946) contains minutes of directors meetings, general meetings and sub-committees of the Chamber (P1/1-20). These minute books are useful sources for researching the activities and functions of the Chamber of Commerce, and its internal organization. P1/20 includes abstracts of general meetings held between 1815 and 1870.

    Correspondence (1820-1936) includes outgoing letter book (1820-1833), and in-coming letter books (1823-1936), including a copy of letter received from Daniel O’Connell M.P.

    Ballot Books (1830-1949) relating to the election of members to the Chamber of Commerce.

    Returns of Goods (1807-1854) including records of Corn Returns, and returns of ships cargos being imported and exported through Limerick, which were kept to calculate the contribution due by members to the Chamber each year.

    Financial Records (1808-1886) including member’s payments accounts, income and expenditure books, cashbooks, and general ledgers. These records demonstrate how the Chamber managed payments contributed by its members through import and export rates, and how the Chamber financed the promotion of many branches of trade in Limerick. For example P1/53 shows the role of the Chamber in the promotion of linen trade and includes accounts for the purchase of linen wheels, and the resale of wheels to poor weavers who made weekly repayments to the Chamber.

    Chamber of Commerce Library (c 1830-1860)

    Limerick Arbitration Society Minute Book (1840) which was established by the Chamber of Council to settle disputes mainly between members. Includes the rules of the organization and the records of two disputes settled by Limerick Arbitration.

    National Assurance Company (1856-1866) includes a registrar of marine policies issued mainly to Limerick Merchants by the National Assurance Company. Also includes correspondene relating to the company and to the Chamber of Commerce which was received by William Carroll, assurance agent and secretary to the Chamber of Commerce.

    Poole Gabbett Letter book (1828-1831) relating to imports to Limerick Harbour

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    Minute Books
    Returns of Goods
    Financial Records
    Chamber of Commerce Library
    Limerick Arbitration Society Minute Book
    National Assurance Company (1856-1866)
    Poole Gabbett Letter book (1828-1831)

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Permission from archivist required
Creation Dates1807-1946
Extent Medium60 items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Copies InformationAvailable in Digital Format

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteLimerick City Archives Archivist
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.