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Grand Jury archives in Kildare

Kildare Grand Jury
A local authority service is custodian to a broad variety of archival series, including a significant number of predecessor bodies of the present government system. Some of these bodies encompass the earliest extant materials in a local authority archive, and include grand juries, poor law unions, rural district councils, boards of health and public assistance, as well as Town Commissioners, Town Councils and Urban District Councils.
The Grand Jury system
The Grand Juries were set up across the country from ca. 17th century, and were an early form of local government. Grand Jurors, who were appointed by the Sheriff, were most of the time, well-known local landowners.
They were initially concerned with the administration of justice. However, their role gradually expanded to include the provision of roads, and bridges, and the maintenance of dispensaries, county infirmaries, lunatic asylums, courthouses and goals.
The Grand Jury was empowered to levy a tax in the country (local Cess: tax or rate) and met at Spring and Summer assizes where presentments (works) were passed.
Corrupt practices among grand juries were widespread in the 19th century and the office of the county surveyor in 1817 brought back some degree of control into the order of making presentments.
The County Council superseded Grand Juries in 1898, thereby introducing democratically elected county and city representatives for the first time.
Here is a transcription of the initial page of the 1809 Presentment Book:
  1. John Wolfe, Esq.                                                         13. John Green, Esq.
  2. John Aylmer, Esq.                                                       14. Thomas Kelly, Esq.
  3. Sir Fenton Aylmer, Esq.                                               15. Francis Fitzgerald, Esq.
  4. Wogan Browne, Esq.                                                   16. Benjamin Braddel, Esq.
  5. Michael Aylmer, Esq.                                                   17. Wheeler Barrington, Esq.
  6. Dominick Wm. O’Reilly, Esq.                                       18. George Chapman, Esq.                   
  7. Christopher Baggot, Esq.                                             19. John Bergin, Esq.
  8. John Fish, Esq.                                                           20. John Hill Farrange, Esq.
  9. Joshua Rice, Esq.                                                        21. William Sherlock, Esq.
  10. Samuel Mills, Esq.                                                        22. Francis Eardly, Esq.
  11. Thomas Graydon, Esq.                                                 23. John Simmonds, Esq.
  12. John Cassidy, Esq.


Printed by BRETT SMITH, No. 38, Mary-Street.
What do we have in Kildare Local Authority Archive?
The main surviving series from the Grand Juries are presentment books, treasurers query books and surveyor query books. We are very lucky in Kildare Local Authority Archive to have examples of each.
Most grand jury’s abstract of presentment books are soft or hard bound. All of them are in printed form with occasional hand-written pages (except KCA/GJ/2) and very fragile. The originals will be produced under the archivist’s supervision, when possible.
Abstract of Presentment:   Reference Code: KCA/GJ/
1.                                          Summer 1809
2.                                          1810 – 1826 (outsized volume – entirely hand-written)
3.                                          Summer 1838
4.                                          Spring 1852
5.                                          Spring 1855
6.                                          Summer 1855
7.                                          Spring 1857
8.                                          Summer 1857
9.                                          Spring 1858
10.                                      Spring 1860
11.                                      Summer 1860
12.                                      Summer 1861
13.                                      Spring 1862
14.                                      Spring 1864
15.                                      Spring 1866
16.                                      Spring and Summer 1867
17.                                      Spring and Summer 1869
18.                                      Summer 1870
19.                                      Spring 1881
20.                                      Spring 1883
21.                                      Spring 1893
22.                                      Summer 1893           
23.                                      Summer 1893
Treasurer’s Query Books:
24.                                      Spring 1858
25.                                      Spring 1860
26.                                      Summer 1860
27.                                      Summer 1861
28.                                      Spring 1864
 County Surveyor Query Books:
Printed schedules of public works, containing itinerary, travelling notes and calculations of the County Surveyor, Mr. Edmund River. Also containing printed Abstract of Presentments heavily annotated with comments by the surveyor.
29.                                      Summer 1891
30.                                      Summer 1892
31.                                      Spring 1893 (Not annotated)
 Details and Access to the collection:
Extent: 2 boxes
Level of description: Fond
Finding aid: List
Access: by appointment only and application form. Access governed by the Rules and Procedures governing access. Copies of the originals may be produced when necessary.

An article by Regional Archivist, Cecile Chemin, on the Grand Jury system and on the archives that survived from the period in County Kildare.


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