From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
The municipal government is vested in a mayor, twelve aldermen, and twenty-four burgesses, assisted by a recorder, town-clerk, and chamberlain; and the inferior officers of the corporation are a sword-bearer, mace-bearer, four town-serjeants, two sheriffs' bailiffs, &c. The mayor and sheriffs are elected by the common council on the 2nd of Feb., the former from among the aldermen, and the latter from the burgesses, from whom also the aldermen are chosen; the burgesses are appointed from the freemen and inhabitants. The sheriffs exercise jurisdiction both over the entire county and the liberties of the city; and the town-clerk is generally clerk of the peace for the county. The freedom is inherited by the sons of aldermen and burgesses, and is obtained by marriage with their daughters, by apprenticeship to a freeman, and by gift of the corporation.
The city returned two representatives to the Irish parliament till the Union, since which it has sent one to the imperial parliament. The right of voting was formerly vested in the burgesses and freemen, in number about 450; but by the late enactments, under which a new electoral boundary, minutely described in the Appendix, has been established, the former non-resident electors, except within a distance of seven miles, have been disfranchised, and the privilege extended to the £10 householders: the number of registered voters on the 1st of April, 1835, was 724, of whom 504 were £10 householders, and the remainder freemen.
The mayor, recorder, and all aldermen who have filled the mayoralty, are justices of the peace within the liberties, which comprise the city and a circuit of three Irish miles measured from its centre; and they also exercise jurisdiction by sufferance over the townland of Culmore. The mayor and recorder, or the mayor alone, hold a court of record every Monday, for pleas to any amount; the process is either by attachment against the goods, or arrest of the person. The court of general sessions for the city is held four times a year: there is a court of petty sessions weekly, held before the mayor, or any of the civic magistrates. The mayor also holds weekly a court of conscience, for the recovery of ordinary debts not exceeding £20 late currency or servants' wages to the amount of £6, and from which there is no appeal.
The city is in the north-west circuit, and the assizes are held here twice a year: it is also one of the four towns within the county at which the general quarter sessions are held, and where the assistant barrister presides in April and October.
The corporation hall in the centre of the Diamond, and on the site of the original town-house built by the Irish Society in 1622, was erected by the corporation in 1692, and till 1825, when it was rebuilt by the corporation, was called the market-house, or exchange: the south front, in which is the principal entrance, is circular. The upper story contains a common-council room, an assembly-room, and an ante-chamber. On the ground floor, which was formerly open for the sale of meal and potatoes, but was closed in 1825, is a news-room established by the corporation in that year. The courthouse, completed in 1817 at an expense of £30,479. 15., including the purchase of the site and furniture, is a handsome building of white sandstone, chiefly from the neighbourhood of Dungiven, ornamented with Portland stone, and erected from a design by Mr. John Bowden: it measures 126 feet by 66, and exhibits a facade, judiciously broken by a tetrastyle portico of the enriched Ionic order, modelled from that of the temple of Erectheus at Athens; over the pediment are the royal arms; and the wings are surmounted by statues of Justice and Peace sculptured in Portland stone by the late Edward Smith.
The principal apartments are the crown and record courts, the mayor's public and private offices, the offices of the recorder, treasurer, and clerks of the crown and peace, the judges' room, and the grand jury room: in addition to the assizes, sessions, and mayor's court, the county and other meetings are held in it. The gaol, situated in Bishop-street, beyond the gate, was erected between the years 1819 and 1824, by Messrs. Henry, Mullins, and McMahon, at an expense of £33,718, late currency: the front, which is partly coated with cement and partly built of Dungiven stone, extends 242 feet; and the depth of the entire building, including the yards, is 400 feet. It is built on the radiating plan; the governor's house, which includes the chapel and committee-room, is surrounded by a panoptic gallery; and the entire gaol contains 179 single cells, 26 work and day rooms, and 20 airing-yards: apart from the main building is an hospital, containing separate wards for both sexes. The regulations are excellent: in 1835 the system of classification was abandoned, and the silent system introduced; the prisoners are constantly employed at various trades, and receive one-third of their earnings.
County Londonderry | City of Londonderry | Londonderry City History | Londonderry Topography | Londonderry Trading | Londonderry Government | Diocese of Derry | Londonderry Churches | Londonderry Cathedral | Londonderry Schools | Londonderry Hospitals | Londonderry City Antiquities
From a sad, comfortless childhood Giles Truelove developed into a reclusive and uncommunicative man whose sole passion was books. For so long they were the only meaning to his existence. But when fate eventually intervened to have the outside world intrude upon his life, he began to discover emotions that he never knew he had.
A story for the genuine booklover, penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St. John Featherstonehaugh.
FREE download 23rd - 27th May
Join our mailing list to receive updates on new content on Library, our latest ebooks, and more.
You won't be inundated with emails! — we'll just keep you posted periodically — about once a monthish — on what's happening with the library.