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Petty session courts

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PETTY SESSIONS COURTS Local petty sessions were held in regional market towns throughout Ireland and these dealt mainly with minor crimes. They are often a good source of names for the family historian. At a petty sessions held in Limavady in 1877 twenty two local men were halued before the courts for bringing their carts into town without proper labelling and identification. 12 Oct. 1877 Derry Journal Limavady petty sessionsPetty Sessions were held on Tuesday before Mr. Henry TYLER (Chairman), Mr. S. M. ALEXANDER and Mr. Hugh LANE. Constable Patrick WARD charged Robert BOYD with having a horse and cart in Limavady on the 1 Oct. without having his name and residence attached to the cart, as required by the Act. The bench inflicted a fine of 6d and costs. Like penalties, for similar offenses, were also imposed on Robert PERRY Robert DYSART Drumalief John CHERRY, Lomond George DOUGLASS Ardinarriff John Alexander JACKSON Andrew DUNN Ballykelly Edward REILLY Henry M‘FADDEN William M‘LAU…

Crime & Punishment in the 18th century

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CRIME & PUNISHMENT IN THE EIGHTEEENTH CENTURY There is something exciting about reading through old newspapers - one gets a sense of a place and time long since gone - and also occassionally one comes across something that simply takes your breath away. This is especially the case when one reads through old court proceedings or sentences given at the local assizes. Times were much stricter. People were executed by hanging for commiting burglary, robbery, horse-stealing and other similar offences. In 1779 one William Blacker was convicted in Co Tyrone of burning down the house of James Heathers near Moy and was hanged and beheaded at Omagh for his crimes (LD Journal 9 April 1779). The following year in Sligo Robert Bunton and Michael Rorke were both found guilty of the murder of James McGaurian and both were hanged and quartered (LD Journal 23 March 1780). A Mrs O'Neill was found guilty of an unspecfied offence at the Lifford Assizes August 1774 but was with child and would not …

Ten most common surnames in Ireland 1890

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Ten Most Common Surnames in Ireland 1890

1    Murphy 62,600
2    Kelly 55,900
3    Sullivan 43,600
4    Walsh 41,700
5    Smith 33,700
6    O’Brien 33,400
7    Byrne 33,300
8    Ryan 32,000
9    Connor 31,200   
10  O’Neill 29,100

Estimated population of Ireland 1890: 4.7 million.

Source: Matheson, Special Report on Surnames in Ireland.

Common surnames provide a real challenge for the genealogist since the names can be so prevalent in certain areas that it is hard to separate not only individuals but familes as well. In the period after civil registration birth certificates provide the most genealogical information providing the name of both parents; marriage certificates give only the name of the father of the spouses and death certificates only give the name of the informant for the deceased (although this was often a relation and occassionally registrars did specify relationship to the deceased).