From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
The charter granted to the burgesses by William Le Mareschal was confirmed, with all its privileges, by Edward III., in the 1st year of his reign; and in the 51st of the same reign the sovereign, portreeve, and commonalty of Kilkenny were by a roll enjoined not to interfere with the freedom of the market of Irishtown, the inhabitants of which obtained from Edward IV. a confirmation of the grant of their market, and the privilege of choosing a portreeve annually, independently of Kilkenny. Edward VI. confirmed all the ancient privileges of the burgesses of Kilkenny, as enjoyed by them during the reign of Henry VIII., and granted them the dissolved priory of St. John, with all its possessions, at a fee-farm rent of £16. 6. 4. Elizabeth, in 1574, confirmed the several rights of both boroughs, but, to obviate the disputes that arose from having two corporations in the same town, constituted them one body corporate under the designation of "The Sovereign, Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Town of Kilkenny." James I., in 1608, made the towns of Kilkenny and Irishtown, with the parishes of St. Mary, St. John, St. Canice, and St. Patrick, a free borough, and in the following year granted additional privileges, erected the borough into a free city, under the designation of the mayor and citizens of the city of Kilkenny, and constituted the city and its liberties a distinct county, to be called the county of the city of Kilkenny. Charles I., in 1639, granted to the mayor and citizens the monasteries of the Black and Grey friars, with several rectories and other possessions; and James II. gave the citizens a new charter, which never came into operation, the city being governed by the charter of James I.
Under this charter the corporation consists of a mayor, two sheriffs, 18 aldermen, 36 common-councilmen, and an indefinite number of freemen, assisted by a recorder, treasurer, two coroners, a town-clerk, four sergeants-at-mace, and other officers. The mayor, who is also custos rotulorum, escheator, clerk of the market, and master of the assay, is chosen annually from the aldermen by the aldermen and councilmen, on the next Monday after the 24th of June, and has power to appoint a deputy, during illness or necessary absence, chosen from such of the aldermen as have served the office of mayor. The sheriffs are elected annually from the common-councilmen by the aldermen and councilmen, on the same day as the mayor. The aldermen are chosen for life from the common-councilmen by the mayor and aldermen; and the common-councilmen are chosen from the freemen by the aldermen and councilmen, who also appoint the recorder, and the treasurer and town-clerk are appointed by the corporation. There is also a corporation of the staple.
The freedom of the city is obtained by birth, marriage, servitude, and favour of the corporation. The burgesses of Irishtown still continue to elect their portreeve annually under the direction of the Bishop of Ossory; he is clerk of the market, and presides in his court held weekly for the recovery of debts under 40s., but has no magisterial jurisdiction. Each borough returned two members to the Irish parliament; Kilkenny first in 1374, and Irishtown at a much earlier period; both continued to do so till the Union, when Irishtown was disfranchised, and the £15,000 awarded in compensation was paid to the Board of First Fruits, to be applied to the uses of that fund. Since that period the city has sent only one member to the Imperial parliament. The right of election, previously in the freemen of the city and 40s. freeholders of the county of the city, was, by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 88, vested in the resident freemen and £10 householders, and in £20 and £10 leaseholders for the respective terms of 14 and 20 years; the 40s. freeholders retain the privilege only for life. The number of registered voters at the close of 1836 was 808. No alteration has taken place in the electoral boundary of the borough, which is co-extensive with the county of the city: the sheriffs are the returning officers.
The mayor, recorder, and all the aldermen who have served the office of mayor, are justices of the peace, and under their charter hold quarterly courts of session, with criminal jurisdiction within the county of the city; and a court of record, called the Tholsel, for the determination of actions to any amount exceeding £20, every Tuesday and Friday. Assizes for the county of the city, and for the county at large, are held here twice in the year; and quarter sessions for the county of Kilkenny are held in rotation with the towns of Castlecomer, Thomastown, and Urlingford. A peace preservation force is stationed in the city, the expense of maintaining which, for 1835, amounted to £712. 15. 10. The court-house, called Grace's Old Castle, contains courts both for the city and for the county at large, and is a spacious and handsome modern building, occupying part of the site of the ancient castle of the family of Grace, of whom William Grace, or Le Gras, its first founder, was seneschal of Leinster and governor of Kilkenny. The city gaol is a badly constructed edifice, containing seven cells, but not adapted to the classification of prisoners. The county gaol is a spacious modern building of stone, a little to the west of the city: it contains 48 cells, is well arranged for classification, and has a tread-mill and a well-conducted school.
Kilkenny, City of | Kilkenny History | Kilkenny Topography | Kilkenny Manufactures | Kilkenny Charter | See of Ossory | Kilkenny Parishes | Kilkenny Schools | Kilkenny Hospitals | Kilkenny Residences | Kilkenny Churches | Kilkenny, County of
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