Friday 14 February 2020

NAI catalogues 1834's papers from CSORP collection

The National Archives of Ireland quietly released some 5520 items last month from the Chief Secretaries Office Registered Papers (CSORP) collection for the year 1834.

So far, these files are searchable only through the NAI's main online catalogue rather than the dedicated CSORP database, which spans 1818-1833. See list of CSORP additions here.

The Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers (CSORP) consist of official government material relating to all aspects of the administration of Ireland, alongside unofficial correspondence from private individuals and organisations across Ireland. The papers cover a wide variety of topics – from matters of national importance to local issues or personal plights.

The registered papers are much more than the ‘official’ records of government - they offer a unique window into Irish society in the nineteenth century.

I've spent a happy hour browsing through some of the files. Here are some examples from the new descriptive lists:

  • A file of fifteen documents (23 pages) concerning the care of a child born out of wedlock to a sub-constable Henry Keys. The child's grandfather, James Crook, Cosbystown, Co. Fermanagh, complains to the Lord Lieutenant that his daughter Anne was ‘Deluded’ by Keys and has given birth to a child; he calls on Keys to augment her fortune and insists he take his child into his own care, as his daughter Anne is intent on emigration. Keys replies, stating his intention to pay Anne Crook the sum of £3 for the maintenance of her child for one year, after which he will take full responsibility provided she give the infant up. CSO/RP/1834/159
  • Letter from John Furlong, Kilmore, County Wexford, to Edward John Littleton, Chief Secretary, seeking to stimulate the benevolence of government on behalf of the crew of the vessels that went to the aid of passengers on board the ‘Water Witch’ steam ship, which was wrecked on the 19th of December [1833]. Also a printed certificate from Capt John Stacey, commander of the ‘Water Witch’, applauding the heroic dedication of the boat owners who acted ‘regardless of their own danger’. Also damp press copy reply from Littleton, Dublin Castle. CSO/RP/1834/151
  • Letter from church wardens, parish of Anna [Annagh], Belturbet, Co. Cavan, to the Chief Secretary regarding the case of an abandoned infant and seeking legal guidance on whether the parish should accept the maintenance of the child; they explain the child was left for the care of James Rogers, a man who admits having intimate relations with the mother (who has since absconded from the neighbourhood) but who objects to taking responsibility on grounds she had other admirers, and the identity of the father is hard to establish.
  • Draft copy letter from the Chief Secretary at Dublin Castle, to M McEnally, Inspector of Anatomy, Dublin, concerning the issue of human remains used in dissection being obtained by illegal means; asking for vigilance and requesting that an immediate report be made to those in authority. CSO/RP/1834/188
  • A file of seven items (12 pages) concerning the case of Mary Kelly, a seller of articles, who was wounded during a serious disturbance between two factions at the fair of Callan in Co. Kilkenny. She was inadvertently hit by a gunshot fired by one of the constables in attendance. CSO/RP/1834/198
  • A file of three items (7 pages) concerning the case of Edward Shea, sub-constable of Mallow, Co. Cork who is accused of being intoxicated whilst on duty. Includes letter from the Chief Constable of Doneraile, reporting on the apprehension of several men charged with attacking the Rector of the parish of Kilshannig; also reporting on the intoxication of Edward Shea, sub-constable of Mallow, who was in a much weakened state on the night of the apprehension; adding that sub-constable has never been guilty of any past misdemeanour and is otherwise ‘excellent’. CSO/RP/1834/223