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Thursday, 8 May 2014

National Archives of Ireland: latest catalogue updates

The National Archives has added the Chief Secretary’s Office: Convict Department, convict petitions and memorials to its online catalogue.

Dating from 1909–1922, and under the reference code CSO/CD/1, this series of more than 1,000 files contains convicts’ petitions or memorials appealing for remission of sentences or discharge from penal servitude made to the Lord Lieutenant or Chief Secretary, with by the prisoner or on their behalf. Most of the catalogue entries provide name and townland of the prisoner, as well as the nature of their activity. Here are a few examples:
  • John Crowley of Crossmahon, Bandon, Co Cork. August 1921. Non attendance as juror. Cork Winter Assizes. (CSO/CD/1/2)
  • William Cathcart of 13 Ventry Street, Belfast. May-June 1921. Loitering at the Queen's Road Belfast with intent to commit felony and being a rogue and vagabond, June 1917. (CSO/CD/1/262)
  • Michael King of Aughoose, Kilcommon, Erris, Co Mayo. Belmullet Petty Sessions; being in possession of illicit utensils for distilling, 21 March 1921. (CSO/CD/1/456)
The majority of the files relate to the period between 1918 and 1922, but some files include earlier petitions. They include cases from Courts of Assizes and Quarter Session Courts around Ireland, as well as some other smaller courts such as Petty Sessions, Parish Courts and Field General Courts Martial.

The cases include minor offences such as non-attendance of jurors; possession of illicit spirits; family cases including child neglect and assaulting the wife; and criminal cases such as larceny; receiving stolen goods, assault, murder and infanticide. There are also some files for political convictions, including Whiteboy offences; rioting; and breaching curfew regulations in Belfast in 1921.

There are also daily reports on the condition of hunger strikers from prison governors to the chairman of General Prisons Board, 1922.

If you find an entry of interest, a personal visit to the NAI is required to study the file.