Derry Corporation minutes


Corporation minute books are useful for those who can trace their ancestry to the city and also give a useful insight into the running of an early embryonic council. The minutes are a gold mine for the local historian and shine a light into the development of the city over a 220 year period.

Each minute book begins with the date of the meeting of the Common Council and a list of those members in attendance, the aldermen and burgesses of the city.  In the late 17th and 18th centuries, the city’s business life consisted of merchants and craftsmen such as butchers and bakers, tailors and shoemakers, smiths and saddlers, joiners and coopers. The minutes contain the names of many merchants and craftsmen who were granted freemen status. The jurisdiction and liberties of Lononderry city extended 3 miles in every direction (including the River Foyle east bank). Liberties meant the freedom to exercise one's craft or trade. No one could could carry out bisiness in the liberties unless he was a freeman. 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, in a city dominated by merchants, shopkeepers and craftemen, only Freemen of the City were entitles to conduct business, own property and recieve protection within the walled city. By the mid-eighteenth century the Freemen were semi-heriditary and was a closely controlled group consisting of those entitled by birth, apprenticeship, marriage, by buying or those granted it by a favour (some of of those made freemen in this period did not reside in the city).

Examples from the records 1794-1832 (the dates given are the date of the council meetings). These are only selective extracts to give an example of what the minutes contain.


21 April 1794 - Ordered that the Rev John Story son in law to Alexander Young, James Stirling son in law to John Knox, John Barclay son in law to Samuel Curry, Esq, William Coningham son to Dickson Coningham, Esq, each and every one of them be admiited freeman and excused spoon and bucket. 

24 April 1785 - Maurice  Knox & Alexander Knox sons of George Knox late of Prehen, Robert son to late Mossom Boyd, Conolly McCausland Kennedy, Wm Kennedy, George Kennedy, Thomas Skipton Kennedy sons of the Mayor (George C Kennedy), Valentine Mumbee son in law to Alexander Young, Richard Young & Thomas Young sons to Alex Young. Robert Coningham son to John Coninghame, Squire Lecky son to the late Alderman Squire Lecky, David Ross son of David Ross, David, Robert & James Ferguson son to late Andrew Ferguson, Wm Hogg Leckey, Conolly McCausland Lecky, Alexander Thomas Lecky & Marcus Edmund Lecky sons of Alderman Wm Lecky; William Alexander Lecky, James Cottingham Lecky, Alexander Lecky & Henry Lecky sons of Alexander Lecky & David Walker sons of William Walker all made freemen.

30 Dec 1797 - vote to replace an alderman. 18 men voted for Wm Alexander and 17 for David Ross (followed by a long list of freemen). 

2 Nov 1801 - Wm Maxwell, Rev Peter Maxwell & Richard Maxwell sons of Colonel Maxwell of Birdstown to become freemen. 


27 May 1794 - charities granted by the corporation - a list of 115 named individuals, mostly widows

5 Sept 1795 - charity grants from the council - 107 names mostly widows


30 Dec 1797 - The freedom of the city was also granted to Londonderry Cavalry naming about twenty men (including John Kinkead).

12 Oct 1805 - Sergeants of the Londonderry Infantry admitted freemen (including Alexander McCunn)


23 August 1803 - Ordered that the city be lighted with 180 lamps and that the mayor regulate the placing of the same and times of lighting.

2 Nov 1803 - odered that Daniel McDaid be paid £20 for his trouble in attending the lighting of the lamps, last year including a balance of £7 which he is to paid. 


24 April 1785 - Squire Lecky son to the late Alderman Squire Lecky & Wm Hogg Leckey, Conolly McCausland Lecky, Alexander Thomas Lecky & Marcus Edmund Lecky sons of Alderman Wm Lecky; William Alexander Lecky, James Cottingham Lecky, Alexander Lecky & Henry Lecky sons of Alexander Lecky all made freemen.

31 July 1805 - 'the late Marcus Edmund Lecky'

15 Feb 1807 - Ordered that James & Alexander Major sons of Alexander Major & Thomas Lecky son of Alderman Thomas Lecky become freemen

13 Feb 1809 - a statement from Thomas Lecky and Alexander Lecky 3 Feb 1803 renouncing their family lease given to their ancestor Alexander Lecky in 1696 by the Irish Society.

2 Oct 1817 - freeman - Holland Lecky son of Everall Lecky

4 July 1826 - Charles Lecky & Squire Lecky sons of the late Alderman Thomas Lecky admitted freeman

7 April 1831 (page 297) William Lecky Brown son of John Borwn of Cumber and grandson of the late Alderman Lecky freeman


18 September 1795 - Christopher William Lynam of Magilligan made freeman

18 June 1812 - ordered that Samuel Hunter from Newtown Limavady be appointed coroner for this county. 

8 Dec 1812 - Samuel Livingstone, miller of Walworth (Ballykelly) freeman

18 Sept 1818 - Edmond Smith of Nn Limavady freeman 

12 Aug 1830 - Robert Thompson of N'Limavady, shoemaker admitted freeman


23 Jan 1824 - Ordered that Frederick Lyndsay, Esq, Adam Murray, Andrew Murray & James Murray sons of the late Major Thomas Murray & grandsons of Colonel Murray, Defender of Derry at the siege proposed as freemen at the last council be admitted freemen (note - Major Thomas Murray mentioned was great grandson of Col Adam Murray of the siege).


17 Jan 1825 (page 188) Bonds due by the corporaton 1 Feb 1825 (over 100 names)

16 Jan 1827 (pages 235-237) List of Bond Payers 2 Feb 1827 (over 100 names)

8 Aug 1826 - Wm Moore son of Joseph Moore of Bondsglen proposed freeman

2 Feb 1831 - corporation bond account 2 Feb 1831 (a typed document)


4 July 1826 (page 219) ordered that James McQuigg an aged bell-ringer who is now aged 75 years and incapacitated to work be granted a pension of £8 per annum


2 Nov 1825 (page 198) letter signed by 168 tradesmen & citizens of the city complaining to the corporation (great source of names).


7 April 1831 (between pages 295 and 296) a detailed typed page of Corporation accounts - lots of names and salaries of Corporation employees. John Dysart the mayor had an annual salary of £300.

2 Feb 1832 (printed accounts as above). P Skipton for one year's rent of the Bridge - £3800 


7 April 1831 (page297) freemen - Wm Lecky Brown son of John Brown of Cumber and grandson of the late Alderman Lecky and Thomas Richardson Brown, George Brown & John Brown sons of the said John Brown made freemen


10 April 1829 - Gardiner Harvey great-grandson of the late Chamberlain Harvey upon this day admitted on paying stamp duty and fees. John Sherlock Patterson grandson of the late James Patterson. Conolly Dysart & Thomas Dysart sons of Alderman Dysart made freemen.

The corporation minutes can be viewed and searched in the link below:


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