Archives | Cartlann Chill Dara
County Kildare Grand Jury
Kildare County Archives has digitised the surviving Grand Jury Abstracts of Presentments and Query Books which it holds. The contents of these books can be viewed by clicking on the links below. The digitised printed books have had Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software applied to facilitate text searching. The volume covering the years 1810-1826 is handwritten so OCR cannot be applied. Due to the age and condition of the documents the OCR process is not fully accurate. Please also note that spelling of words may vary from modern usage.
The aims of digitising the Grand Jury material are to improve public access, to facilitate research and to serve as an additional preservation copy. The County Archives acknowledges the support of the County Kildare Decade of Commemorations Committee and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-23 initiative which provided funding to conserve the 1810-1826 volume.
The records of the Grand Jury are the earliest local authority archival collection for Co. Kildare. The Grand Jury dates from medieval times when its main function was the administration of justice. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it took on more functions such as the provision of roads and public buildings, and the running and maintaining of dispensaries, courts, fever hospitals, the county infirmary, and the county gaol. The books contain the names of many indiviudals, for example those contracted to carry out works, and deserted children and those paid to look after them.
The Grand Jury collected a tax called the county cess. The Valuation Acts of 1826 and 1852 made the valuation more equitable and from 1833 ratepayers were represented at the baronial presentment sessions (more about the baronies of Co. Kildare can be found here). The Grand Jury was made up of prominent local landowners who were appointed by the sheriff. It met twice yearly at the Spring and Summer Assizes for the purpose of passing presentments of proposed and approved works which were effectively financed by the cess payer. The post of the county surveyor was first created in the nineteenth century, and he also reported to the assizes. However, corrupt practices amongst the grand juries were widespread, and in 1899 their powers and duties were transferred primarily to democratically elected county councils, as well as to rural district councils under the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898.
The surviving records can be viewed via the links below.
Further information on the history, operation and archives of the Grand Juries of Ireland can be found in this publication at: https://virtualtreasury.ie/backend/flipbooking/the-grand-jury-system-in-Ireland-02/